Temple Food in Goa
Hindu temple food varies from region to region, but there are certain common rules: the food is vegetarian, the ingredients are bathed before cooking and there’s usually no onion, garlic or mushrooms.
The meal included (clockwise from the top): usal (beans with rice), potato bhaji (curried potato), naan, a thin flaky cracker, pulao, bharleli vangi (stuffed eggplant), and mango pickles.
Naan in Goa
Check out that naan! Warm and just a little bit charred, it's pretty much perfect.
A flattened ball of paneer (Indian buffalo milk cheese) seeped in clotted cream and flavored with cardamom. Imagine if you could make cheesecake into a pudding—it's kind of like that.
In certain parts of Asia, betel leaves are wrapped around tobacco to create a pretty addictive stimulant. At the sangeet they were folded around candied fruit and shaved coconut as a kind of homemade palate cleanser and breath mint.
Breakfast in Goa
For breakfast, the fried pepper and spicy samosa get your eyes wide open. The sweet green coconut and coriander chutney, bread, and boiled peanuts cool everything down.
Boiled Peanuts in Goa
Some of Goa's common dishes, like these boiled peanuts, are similar to food found in the southern United States. They're boiled in salted water for roughly 20 minutes and are my new favorite football snack.
Goa is famous for its cashews. Here they're roasted with spices.
Fresh Tamarind in Goa
Tamarind trees are common in Goa. While the tangy fruit is used in plenty of recipes, it's great on its own with just a bit of sea salt sprinkled on.
Besan Ladoo in Goa
A roux of chickpea flour or gram flour and ghee is mixed with sugar to make this sweet dessert. It's topped with raisins and has the texture of smooth homemade peanut butter. These were meant for a group, but I'm pretty sure I ate most of them.
Goan Wedding Henna
The bride's henna covers her arms, hands, legs and feet. The elaborate drawings take hours to complete.
Using a Boti to Slice an Onion
Forget kitchen knives—Goan cooks prefer to use a boti for slicing. This tool consists of a curved blade attached to a stool-like wooden block.
A Boti Slicing Through an Onion
The vegetable is rapidly pressed down on the blade. It took just seconds to cut this onion into slices.
Using a Boti to Shred Coconut
A man shreds coconuts outside his home using another type of boti, this one fitted with a grated blade.
The Mehndi Celebration
During the mehndi celebration, the bride's extended family gathers to catch up, dance, and dine on a family-style spread of classic Indian dishes, including: pulao (rice and peas cooked in spiced water with chili and ghee), aloo gobi ki sabzi (a blazing hot cauliflower and potato stir fry), and boondi raita (tender gram flour balls seeped in yogurt).
For wimpy Americans, boondi raita can be a real hero during a spicy Indian meal. Tender gram flour balls are seeped in cool, tart yogurt.
Don't ever pass up the chance to throw back a few servings of pani poori. These paper-thin balls of chickpea dough pastry are filled with a tangy and sweet tamarind water, meant to be eaten in one juicy, flavorful bite.
As we surveyed the buffet, an Indian man pulled me aside and pointed out the chole bhature (chickpeas, stewed with ginger, cardamom, garam masala, and other spices, scooped over fried dough). "That won't be too spicy for you," he said.
Americans have a bit of a reputation.
Kingfish Rawa Fry
This fish fry was scorchingly hot. Thin kingfish fillets are marinated in a chili and turmeric sauce, then coated with semolina before a quick deep fry. I'd eat this every night if I could.
Goan Vegetable Kadai
An assortment of vegetables and beans stir fried with dried spices, then stewed with tomato and water.
Goa's feni industry has plenty of large distilleries, but the cashew (or coconut) spirit is also made throughout the countryside. The Sahakari Spice Farm sells the homemade stuff in small plastic water bottles. It's usually between 85 and 90 proof.
[Photo: Dash Anderson]
Nutmeg Growing in Goa
After the wedding ended, we toured a spice farm that grows many of the staples brought by the Portuguese to Goa. Nutmeg, the little green ball seen here, is also harvested for mace.
Piri Piri Peppers
The tiny piri piri chili pepper was brought by the Portuguese from Africa. They rate as high as 175,000 on the Scoville scale (by comparison, jalapeños top out around 10,000), so you probably shouldn't just bite into them willy-nilly.... but I did anyway. These are hot. Like really really hot. Like getting punched by Ghost Rider hot.
Fortunately, our tour guide took pity on me and revealed an antidote for piri piri pain: fresh starfruit. I was healed immediately and (almost) no one saw me cry.