The picturesque beaches of Goa and its vibrant holiday ambience speak of unmatched pomp and splendour to backpackers from all parts of the globe. However, hidden behind the lavish extravagance of an ideal youngster’s holiday is a city rooted in cultural history, guarding fascinating culinary tales. The Mooga Gathi is one such uncharted delicacy from the Goan repertoire of coastal preparations, holding an important position in the belief system and temple culture of Goa’s Hindu community.
The term Mooga comes from the Sanskrit word Mudga which refers to green gram or moong sprouts, the main ingredient of the preparation. The dish, sometimes called by the name of Moogache Gathi, starts by pressure cooking freshly sprouted green gram. A thick paste of grated coconut, coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chillies, tamarind, and peppercorn is prepared simultaneously. The paste and the boiled sprouts are then mixed together in a pan, simmered with shavings of solid jaggery, and finally scattered with tempered mustard seeds, asafoetida, and curry leaves. This authentic Goan delicacy goes best with steamed rice or a plate of hot and fluffy Puris.
With instances of human settlement that can be traced back to the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic periods, Goa’s long and celebrated history is dotted with major influences of Hinduism stemming from its ruling Mauryan, Satavahana, Kabamba and Vijayanagar dynasties. The anglicisation of Goa’s cultural palette, especially with the advent of the Portuguese, has favoured the creation of unique recipes, all the while nurturing and safeguarding ancient culinary practices like the Mooga Gathi, believed to be a direct consequence of Goa’s extensive past under Hindu rulers.
Even today, the Mooga Gathi holds a special importance in Goan customs and ceremonies like Pujas and weddings. Investigations of food sciences also highlight the high nutritional value of sprouts and support the Mooga Gathi’s potential health benefits and precautionary role in combating diabetes, high blood pressure, indigestion, and obesity.