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The Goan Signatures

If you’re on a trip to this former Portuguese territory, you absolutely must try these dishes

Durri Bhalla Published 14.11.21, 02:07 AM

Goan people are happy-go-lucky, they love their food and dancing and singing. Indians as well as foreigners throng to Goa as much for the famous beaches as for their delectable cuisine. Goan cuisine originated from its Konkan roots and then got influenced by the 451 years of Portuguese rule. Earlier, their food was mostly seafood and used coconut, vegetables and local spices. Beef and pork were introduced by the Portuguese. The use of kokum and vinegar is another distinctive feature of Goan cuisine. I have shown here the most popular dishes of Goa without which your trip would be incomplete. They are all pretty authentic and simple to make.



Fish Recheado is the pride of Goan cuisine. Basically it is a spicy hot red masala paste which is stuffed in pomfret or any other fish like mackerel and then coated with flour and fried gently. It’s an amazing appetiser or side dish. One can even use the recheado paste to make stir fry prawns or vegetables.


•Pomfret (or any fish of your choice): 4, medium size

•Turmeric: ½tsp

•Lemon juice: Of 1 lemon

•Flour: 1 cup

•Goan recheado masala: 3-4tbsp

•Oil: 4tbsp

•Salt: To taste

#For the Goan Recheado masala paste

•Kashmiri red chillies: 10, deseeded

•Peppercorns: 4

•Cloves: 6

•Cinnamon: ½-inch stick

•Sugar: 1tsp

•Fresh ginger: 1 inch

•Garlic: 10 cloves

•Vinegar: 2tbsp

•Salt: To taste


•Soak in vinegar chillies, peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, sugar, cumin, ginger, garlic and salt for 20 minutes.

•Then grind to a fine smooth paste and store in an air-tight container. Use as required.

#For the fish

•Slit the fish on either side so as to get deep pockets (you can even get it done by the fishmonger).

•Pat the fish dry and apply turmeric, salt and lime juice and keep aside for 10 minutes.

•Now fill the pockets of each pomfret with the masala paste, making sure it does not spill out.

•Put flour on a plate and coat each fish with it. Dust off excess flour.

•Heat about 4-6tbsp of oil and fry the fish on both sides; 3 minutes each side or till the fish is cooked properly. (You can even grill or bake the fish.)

•Serve the fish with a fresh green salad and French fries or wedges and sliced tomatoes.


Prawns (large, small, medium) are plentiful in Goa. Goan prawn curry is also known as Ambot Tik in Goa. It is a spicy, slightly tangy gravy cooked in coconut masala. A creamy, delicious dish to savour with a steaming bowl of rice.


•Prawns: 18, large or medium size.

#For marinating prawns

•Turmeric: ½tsp

•Salt: ½tsp

•Oil: 2tbsp

#For the masala paste (items below to be blended into smooth, fine paste)

•Onion: 1, chopped

•Tomato: 1, chopped

•Coconut: ½ cup grated

•Ginger paste: 1tbsp

•Garlic paste: 1tbsp

•Tamarind water: 2tbsp

•Cumin powder: 1tsp

•Coriander powder: 2tsp

•Dry red deseeded chillies: 4, soaked in a little water

•Red Kashmiri mirch powder (for colour mainly): 1tsp

•Salt: 1tsp


#For the prawns

•Marinate with turmeric and salt and keep aside for 20 minutes.

•Then saute in oil for a minute till it changes colour.

•Remove and keep aside.

#For the curry

•Heat 3tbsp of oil in a clay pot or any pan and add the blended paste.

•Saute the paste for at least 7 minutes to bring out the flavour of all the ingredients.

•Then add the prawns and mix well.

•Add half to one cup of water and tamarind juice. Cover and cook on simmer for about 10 minutes.

•Check for seasoning and desired consistency of the gravy.

•Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with a bowl of steaming hot rice.


Pork Vindaloo was brought to Goa by the Portuguese. The authentic Pork Vindaloo is not very spicy. It is the use of red Kashmiri chillies which gives the vindaloo a lovely rich red colour.


#For the curry

•Pork/beef/mutton: 1kg

•Onions: 2 large, made into a paste.

•Peppercorns: 5

•Cinnamon: 1 stick

•Cloves: 4

•Salt: To taste

•Sugar: 1½tsp (or to taste)

#For the vindaloo masala paste

•Dry red chillies: 6, deseeded

•Garlic: 7 flakes

•Ginger: 1-inch piece

•Cumin seeds: 2tsp

•Turmeric powder: ½tsp

•Cinnamon stick: 1-inch piece

•Peppercorns: 6

•Cloves: 6

•Vinegar: 4tbsp


#For the masala paste

•In a blender put Kashmiri red chillies and grind to a powder.

•Then add all the other ingredients and blend to a smooth paste with the vinegar.

•Now rub the masala to the pork till all the pieces are coated well.

•Marinate overnight, or for 8 hours.

•After the marination period add the onion paste and mix well.

#For the Vindaloo curry

•Heat a pot and add 2-3tbsp of oil. Add peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon.

•Then add the pork and fry on medium heat for 5 minutes.

•Then add 1 cup water and sugar. Add 1tsp of Kashmiri red chilli powder for the colour.

•Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Then uncover and cook for at least 15 minutes on low flame till the meat is tender and a fiery red colour is seen.

•Check for seasoning. It should be little tangy, slightly sweet and little spicy.

•Serve with rice or pav or a crusty bread.


Cafreal is a scrumptious Goan delicacy that was, again, introduced by the Portuguese. It’s made with green coriander sauce and best had with baked potatoes / rice/ bread. Cafreal has a wonderful green colour and when plated it looks delectable.


•Chicken breasts: 1kg

•Lime juice: 1tbsp

•Turmeric: 1tsp

•Salt: 1tsp

#For the green masala paste

•Coriander leaves: 2 bunches

•Green chillies: 4

•Ginger: 1-inch piece

•Garlic: 6 cloves

•Cumin seeds: 1tsp

•Cloves: 4

•Cinnamon: 1-inch piece

•Cardamoms: 2

•Peppercorns: 1tsp

•Sugar: 1tsp

•Vinegar: 2tbsp


•Make gashes on the chicken pieces and marinate with lime juice, turmeric and salt for 30 minutes.

#For the green masala paste

•Blend coriander leaves, green chillies, ginger, garlic, cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon, cardamoms, peppercorns, sugar and vinegar to a smooth paste.

•Apply the green masala paste on the chicken and keep for 4 hours.

#For the cafreal

• In a pan heat 2-3tbsp of butter. Add the marinated chicken and cook on medium flame for 5 minutes.

•Lower the flame and cook on both sides. Then add ¾ cup water, check the seasoning and let it cook till the chicken is tender and a nice thick gravy is formed.

•Serve with baked potatoes/ French fries/ wedges. A crusty bread also goes well. Goans like it with little rice on the side.


Xacuti is a very popular spicy coconut-based curry of Goa. It is pronounced as ‘chacuti’ and is a delicious curry which has complex flavours. You can make it with chicken also. This recipe is for four servings.


#For the masala

•Oil: 1½tbsp

•Onions: ¼ cup chopped

•Poppy seeds: 1tsp (soaked for ½ hour)

•Black pepper: ¼tsp

•Dry red chillies: 5, deseeded

•Fenugreek seeds (methi dana): A pinch

•Cinnamon: 1-inch piece

•Mustard seeds: ¼tsp

•Green cardamoms: 3

•Cloves: 4

•Mace (javitri): 1 small piece

•Star anise (chakri phool): ½ small

•Coriander seeds: 1tbsp

•Cumin seeds: 1tsp

•Fennel seeds: ½tsp

•Fresh coconut: 1 cup, grated

•Tamarind paste: 1tsp

•Nutmeg powder: A pinch

•Green chillies: 2, chopped

•Garlic cloves: 5

•Ginger: 1-inch piece

•Coriander leaves: ¼ cup chopped

•Water: 1/3 to ½ cup for blending.

#For the vegetable Xacuti

•Oil: 3tbsp

•Onion: 1, finely chopped

•Turmeric: ¼tsp

•Potato: 1, diced into small pieces

•Carrots: ½ cup, diced.

•Capsicum: ½ chopped.

•Green peas: 1/3 cup.

•Green beans: ¼ cup chopped

•Water: 1½ to 2 cups (or as required)

•Salt: To taste

•Coriander leaves: 2-3tbsp chopped


#For the Xacuti masala

•In a pan, heat oil and add the onions and saute till golden.

•Then add whole spices and dry red chillies except for nutmeg and roast on low flame for 1 minute.

•Then add coconut and roast till slightly golden.

•Turn off the flame and add tamarind paste 1tsp. Mix well.

•Then add a pinch of nutmeg. Keep aside to cool.

•Now put all the ingredients in a blender and blend to a smooth paste by adding a little water. Remove and keep aside.

#For the Xacuti

•Heat oil in a clay pot or kadai / pot and add the onions and saute till light brown.

•Now add turmeric and the xacuti masala and saute on medium flame for at least 4 minutes.

•Add the vegetables (you can even add mushrooms if you like). Season with salt to your taste.

•Add 1½ to 2 cups water. Mix well. Cover and simmer on medium flame till the vegetables are cooked.

•If the gravy is too thick, you can add a little hot water. Oil specs will appear once the gravy is cooked.

•Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice, bread or bread rolls.


Goan fish curry is the everyday fish curry that most Goan homes swear by. This curry is their very own and had by the Goans nearly every day. It’s delicious, spicy and very easy to make in less than 30 minutes. Perfect with a bowl of steaming hot rice.


•Rohu: 500g, cut into good size pieces. (You can use any other fish of your liking.)

•Onion: 1, finely chopped

•Tomato: 1, finely chopped

•Tamarind paste: 2tsp

•Coconut milk: 1 cup

•Green chillies: 2, chopped fine

•Oil: 2tbsp

#For the spice paste/masala

•Garlic: 6 cloves, chopped

•Ginger: 1½-inch piece, chopped

•Coriander seeds: 2tsp

•Cumin seeds: 1tsp

•Mustard seeds: ½tsp

•Kashmiri red chilli powder: 1½tsp, or to taste

•Turmeric powder: ½tsp


#For making the spice paste/masala

•In a small pan add whole spices like cumin, coriander and mustard seeds and roast on medium low flame.

•Once the mustard starts to pop turn off the heat.

•In a blender put the ginger, garlic, roasted spices, red chilli powder, turmeric and salt. Blend by adding a little water. Make a smooth paste.

#For making the curry

•Heat oil in a pan.

•Add the onions and green chillies and cook till the onions turn light golden.

•Add the tomatoes and cook till well-blended.

•Add the spice paste and fry till specks of oil appear.

•Add the tamarind paste and mix well.

•Add the fish and coat with masala on medium low flame. Add half a cup of water and cook for 2 minutes.

•Add the coconut milk. Mix well and continue cooking on low flame for 6 minutes or so. Stirring occasionally.

•You should have a nice gravy by now. Not too thick or thin.

•Serve with steaming hot rice.

Tip. You could marinate the fish with a little turmeric and salt and lightly fry beforehand. The people of Bengal prefer this. If you are doing it this way, then don’t add turmeric in the masala paste.

Pictures by the author

Durri Bhalla is a cookery expert and author of Indian Bohra Cuisine and Inner Truth To Good Health And Weight Loss. You can find her at @DurriBhallaKitchen on Instagram, Durri’s Kitchen on Facebook and Durri Bhalla on YouTube

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