Given its coastal location, the cuisine of Goa is predominantly seafood-based. While kingfish is quite literally the king fish of the region, the people of Goa also enjoy tuna, shark, mackerel and pomfret, along with mostly all varieties of shellfish.
But what about the region’s vegetarian offerings? Many regions of Goa boast red, rich soil, which is ideal for growing many different fruit and vegetable crops. Due to this, the people of Goa are able to incorporate a variety of hearty vegetarian ingredients into their daily diets.
Pulses and lentils are used as bases or accompaniments to a number of meals, and Goans often enjoy adding beans, red amaranth leaves and okra (or ladies fingers) to dishes. Vegetarian dishes will often include ingredients such as kokum, tamarind and terfalla. Garlic is also used but is limited during Hindu festivals.
Both Catholics and Hindus living in Goa enjoy vegetarian food. Catholic people consume a lot of leafy vegetables, chillies and potatoes, whilst Hindus prefer pulses and lentils, which they use to make dal. Similar to fish and meat-based dishes, coconut is used in abundance in vegetarian cooking, either in pulp-form or sprinkled on top of dishes as a garnish.
Among the Catholic people of Goa, a popular preparation is a dish known as ‘Caldin,’ translating as ‘in a gravy.’ A number of ingredients can be used to make a Caldin, but the most popular variety is a combination of okra and cashew.
Cabbage Foogath is a meal eaten by most Goan people. The dish comprises of cabbage, coconut, ginger and curry leaves, and is often served with rice, roti or dal. Combining the cabbage with coconut produces a sweet-sour taste and makes for an extremely tasty dish.
When heavy rains fall during the monsoon season, fish supply can become scarce and so the people of Goa tuck-in to more vegetarian meals. One of these meals is a red curry known as GoanSorak Curry, which is made using coconut as a base.
During the monsoon, Sorak is often eaten as a main dish, while mushroom cutlets are enjoyed as a hearty snack. These are made by mixing mushrooms with chopped onions, mashed potato and a number of spices, which is then shaped into cutlets and shallow fried.
Mushrooms are also the main ingredient in a dish we’re all familiar with here in the UK: Vindaloo. The region of Goa is famous for its Vindaloo, prepared using spices, vinegar and Kashmiri chillies. Both the meat and vegetarian versions are consumed year-round.
If you are a vegetarian, or just enjoy meat-free fare, you may have visited a ubiquitous curry house in the past only to leave feeling disappointed. That’s because there are many chefs who focus on preparing mouth-watering meat dishes but don’t give meat-free alternatives the same amount of attention. However, if you visit one of London’s fine Indian restaurants, you will not be disappointed: the chefs there have mastered the art of creating authentic dishes bursting with flavour, whether those dishes are meat-based or meat-free. So, what are you waiting for?
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