Goan breakfast at Old Quarter
Destinations, Food

The Bangali’s Guide to Goan Food

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.

Onion Fritters, Goan style

Onion Fritters, Goan style


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.

WhatsApp Image 2017-09-19 at 9.57.41 PM

Chicken Cafreal at The Verandah


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.

Mushroom Rawa Fry

Mushroom Rawa Fry at Kokni Kanteen


25 thoughts on “The Bangali’s Guide to Goan Food

  1. you actually made it alphabetically and had food that has got first syllables..wow!!!
    loved it..but as you said funny..it is witty i will say….how come you remember all these and the history behind the formation of these dishes ?…Nice write up..


  2. What an amazing idea summing up a cuisine using all the letters of the alphabet. I actually might try this as well from now on. I learned a lot from your post about Goan cuisine. Thanks.


  3. Priceless!!! Your descriptions of the various food and its effects and ways to prepare it as well as unexpected outcomes — prepare this and get a day off from the boss or prepares your lips for a kiss. Love it!!!!


    • There is a lot for vegetarians! Goan food can be distinctly divided into food cooked in kitchens of the Portuguese and Indian Catholics and that cooked in Saraswat Brahmin families. The latter is predominantly vegetarian. Let’s see…from this list, the ones that are vegetarian are: bhaji (you can have vegetable fritters), cafreal (you can make a vegetarian variant with paneer), caldindo, chamuca, vegetarian kadhi, khatkhate, pao, patoleo, perad, pez, sanna, tonak, varan bhaat, vegetarian versions of vindaloo, xacuti (if made with mushroom). There you go!


  4. I’ve never tried Bangali food (sadly), but gosh does it look amazing! You got me already at pickled shrimp relish, but then violet shaded guava cheese? Sun dried-shrimp with spices? Oh, I hope I get to try some of it some day! I love your moody photos as well.


    • These are Goan foods and yes, they are delicious! We wrote the article from the perspective of Bengali (us!!) eaters 🙂 Goan food has some truly delicious seafood preparations.
      Thanks for stopping by!


  5. The cuisine of India is so vast and varied that it can fill up an encyclopedia. This Bangali guide to Goan food is remarkable. I am sure you may need to come up with such guides for other regional cuisines as well.


  6. What a fun post about the Bengali eaters and Goan food! Sounds mouth watering. I really like the sound and look of the Onion Fritters and Mushroom Rawa Fry at Kokni Kanteen. I am a huge fan of Mushrooms and I would definitely give this ago.


  7. Goan cuisine sounds yummy and I’m surprised to see how many of these I know already (and that I didn’t know were from Goa). We actually had some Vindaloo a few days ago, but it was in England, so I’m not sure how authentic this was. It was very spicy, though. I would love to try a lot of things on this list.


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