It is no secret that the Bangali loves to eat but more often than not we see our brethren meticulously searching for eateries that serve Bangali food in the most non-Bangali of places, say for example, in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh. Far from Bengal and its redolent plains, we found by the Baspa a tiny establishment with a board that announced “এখানে বাঙালি খাবার পাওয়া যায় |” A group of delighted Bengali tourists marched forth towards this miracle while their children, visibly depressed at the prospect of being fed more bhaat dal, tried hard to make their voices heard to their parents who oblivious to the delicious local food they were missing shut them with the ubiquitous chup kor!
To encourage fellow Bangalis to embrace the world of foreign foods, we have devised the complete guide to navigating the menu at a Goan eatery. Enjoy a laugh and a glass of feni while deciding your order!
Ambot-tik: For the one that loves onomatopoeia. Ambot-tik is how your tongue clicks against your palate when you put something tart in your mouth. Balance it with sweetness and let out a sigh before biting into a chunk of seafood.
Balchão: Pickled shrimp relish that’s fiery and finger-licking delicious. Though it might sound like a goon from Uttar Pradesh, it is originally from Macao.
Bebinca: No other babe can compare to bebinca because this 7-layered masterpiece of flour, coconut cream, egg yolks, butter, and sugar is the pinnacle of foodie dreams. Local legends attribute its invention to Sister Bebiana who lived in the Nunnery of Santa Monica and made this dessert to use the discarded egg yolks after the whites had been used to bleach the inmates’ habits. The original bebinca had seven layers symbolising the seven hills of Lisbon and old Goa but now the numbers can be anything from 7-16.
Bhaji: The Bangali’s Goan-style evening fix in a batter-fried no-breadcrumb version. Munched with a side of milky tea and aantlamo.
Cafreal: Its green colour has been the subject of intense scrutiny. The original recipe travelled all the way from Mozambique and called for Piri-Piri peppers and a coal-fired grill but in Goa, the chicken is marinated in a blend of coriander, green chilli, ginger, garlic, and lime for at least four hours and lightly fried before it is brought to your plate.
Cabidela: When you cook rabbit or poultry in its own blood and add water and vinegar to the mix, you get a cabidela but its taken you so long your cab has left and you have missed the party.
Caldinho: This yellowish-green little soup is an elite dish because one coconut is required per plate. So be ready to chuck your wallet in the cauldron for a taste.
Chamuça: A cousin of the singhara that only a few know but all secretly crave to date.
Chouriço: Goa’s answer to frankfurters. These spicy, garlicky pork sausages differ from the Spanish chorizo because of the added vinegar and are smoked or sun-dried before being chopped and dropped in sizzling curries.
Dangar: Not related to the movie but cutlets with a crunchy shell. Often made of seafood.
Feijoada: Stewed carnival of black beans, pork, and beef inside a heavy clay pot. Was named for feijão, the Portuguese word for “beans.”
Feni: Clear or amber, downing a small vial is how you are inducted into all things Goa. Watch out for the fire in your throat (and of course, in your soul).
Kadi/Kadhi: Curry but pronounced with a touch of ethnic adulation.
Kalputi: More regal than yesterday’s puti-maach and contains mackerel, kingfish or pomfret. To cook: Take the fish head, scrape flesh from the fins and tails, and simmer in a vibrant sauce of onion, coconut, and kokum.
Khatkhate: Don’t let the noisy name discourage you from this aromatic and mild vegetarian stew. Triphal or Sichuan pepper is essential for hitting the perfect pitch.
Kismur: Salted and sun-dried shrimp, often mixed with grated coconut and spices. Pack some for your para’r kakimaa or your bideshi bandhobi.
Kokum: The plum that puckers your lips and readies you for a kiss. Also, it’s a royal shade of purple. Add it to your curries for tartness.
Koliwada: The wada you involuntarily make to the Kolis (and to yourself) to return to the Konkan once you have tasted this spicy, deep-fried preparation.
Pao: Bread, not legs. Use it to transfer your curries from plate to mouth.
Patoleo: We have paturi and they have patoleo except that the patoleo is a dessert. Coconut and jaggery are wrapped in turmeric leaves and steamed. Serve it to your boss and get a day off.
Perad: After Maggie Nelson, this is your turn to write a book on a colour. Goa’s guava cheese is a gorgeous shade of violet. Slice with a knife, smear on crackers and let it melt on your tongue as you compose the opening lines.
Poi: Desi pita made with half-maida and half-whole wheat; the perfect carriers to stuff spicy chouriço stir-fry into your mouth during boring lectures.
Pez: Brown rice gruel. In other words, what an ombol-ridden Bangali household needs.
Recheado: From the Portuguese recheado, “stuffed.” This red, hot spice mix is prepaared with vinegar, chillies, jaggery, and numerous other spices and stuffed into pomfrets, mackerels, bangda, and all their near and distant cousins. It is sticky and perfect for licking off your manicured fingers.
Sanna: No, you do not have to take sanyas to partake of the fluffy, fermented fantasy that’s a sanna aka spongy rice cake.
Sorpotel: It’s neither Gujarati nor vegetarian despite its name. There’s enough flavourful pig liver, offal, blood, heart, and fatty pork in this stew to keep your carnivorous cravings satisfied.
Suke: All things dry, delicious, and irresistible.
Tonak: When in Goa, eat as the Goans and swap ghugni with tonak. This delicious curry usually made with red cowpeas and potatoes makes for the perfect breakfast. Remember to substitute luchi cravings with Goan pao!
Uradmethi: When urad and methi bumped into each other in a simmering curry of raw mangoes, red chillies and jaggery, uradmethi was born. More often than not, you will find pieces of fish swimming in the delicious orange sea.
Varan Bhaat: The comfort food of vegan gods and humans alike on the Konkani coast, this simple preparation of pigeon peas and rice cooked with turmeric, jaggery and asafoetida is meant to make one happy.
Vindaloo: The simple dish of meat in garlic and wine, vinha d’alhos, had no option but to evolve once its Portuguese parents sailed away from sunshine coast and fire-loving Indians adopted it with lots of love, and of course, dried red chillies. And they swapped the wine for vinegar because sura is a strict no-no.
Xacuti: Pronounced sha-ku-ti like the Bangali mom yelling at you when you ask her for favours while she is shredding shaak. Though the spelling reminds one of cacti, a xacuti has coconut, poppy seeds, and dried red chillies instead and is as smooth as silk on the tongue.
Xec-xec: Of course it is shek-shek but nobody will mind you shaking your booty in a shack as you stuff your mouth with crab cooked in fragrant coconut milk.
Are we missing a dish? Let us know in the comments.