Goa’s food has a charm of its own and the little state’s culinary heritage is best showcased during Christmas – the festival when every Goan family prepares traditional recipes handed down from one generation to another.
Once upon a time, when families were large and people got together for Christmas, the centrepiece of the food table would be the roasted suckling – marinated overnight with masalas and roasted for hours in the oven.
But with the shrinking size of the families, the three-four kg of roasted baby pig has made way for roast turkey and roast chicken, which are smaller in size and faster to cook.
While Goa has a rich heritage of sweets, with bebinca being synonymous with the state, Christmas calls for the preparation of kulkuls, marzipan, pinagr (or pinaac), batica (or baath cake) and perad or guava cheese.
Goa was a Portuguese colony for almost 450 years (from 1510 to 1961) and the cuisine has a distinct Portuguese stamp. It is visible in the liberal use of vinegar (including for marination), the use of Portuguese bread — pav, the intensely flavoured pork vindaloo (made without aloo or potatoes) and the preparation of other curries and stews etc. Rice, coconut, fish, and cashews are used liberally in Goan food, a direct Konkani influence.
Goa is a beautiful amalgam of cultures. And it reflects in its everyday food. Christmas makes it extra special. Here are traditional Goan Christmas foods in pictures: