Goa is well-known for its culinary heritage. However, most culinary institutes focus on broad range cuisine – Indian, Continental, Asian, etc to be able to cover more ground in a shorter span of time.
However, thanks to its unique origins, Goan food is popular across the world, with restaurants dedicated to this cuisine in many major cities. However, authenticity of local food is often the biggest issue in other countries, and with Goans and Indians settled all over, having the right skills to cook traditional food can go a long way in your success as a chef.
For example, Goan food in the UK for years was relegated to a misinterpreted version of vindaloo, a curry house staple that was popular as one of the spiciest dishes on the menu. In reality, vindalho is a tangy, flavourful pork dish left to mature over a couple of days and served best with local bread.
Mastering the skills to preparing authentic Goan food could open up excellent opportunities for business. Epicureans and food lovers are keen to try new food, and the interesting blend of western and Indian ingredients, cooking methods and traditions make Goan food truly unique.
Opportunities also exist to start your own food venture in various parts of the world. Late Floyd Cardoz served items such as pão with Goan chouriço, Goan beet salad, chouriço biryani, Goan crab cakes, fish curry, jeerem meerem stew, vindalho, and even a cocktail he called Flight to Dabolim at his restaurant Paowalla in New York.
Eric McCarthy took back flavours from Goa where he was born to Brooklyn where he serves caldo verde – at his restaurant by the same name, Goan prawn curry and chicken vindalho laced with feni. Even in South Africa – at The Classic India in Johannesburg – and in Kenya – at Acacia in Kisumu – one will find chicken vindalho and Goan fish curry. Countries with high Goan-origin populations, such as the UK, Canada and Australia are likely to have many restaurants serving Goan food.
As these populations take to cooking Goan food at home more routinely, they are always on the lookout for readymade masalas, sausages and treats such as bebinca that can make life in another country easier. Soso’s produces their own Goan sausages in the UK, Goa Sausages sells their eponymous fare in Canada and ships across the US, while Dorellis does the same in Australia.
Learning the necessary skills to cook Goan food from scratch doesn’t have to be tricky. It’s important to gain an in-depth understanding of the state’s culture, a little bit about its language, and also its history to be able to cook and serve Goan food authentically.
Your culinary institute in Goa will most probably give you a basic introduction to cooking Goan food, but if you would like to take this further, it’s advisable to take on a more rigorous class. Demo sessions are available across Goa and you could speak to the chefs about honing your skills.
Rita Shinde hosts comprehensive courses at her workshop in Dabolim, south Goa, while Odette Mascarenhas also has rich knowledge of traditional recipes passed down the ages, shared at her home in Penha de Franca, north Goa.