Tandoori versus sorpotel: Goan cuisine on collision path (Eating Out With IANS)

April 15th, 2011 - 12:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, April 15 (IANS) Goan cuisine is on a path of culinary collision with mainstream dishes from Punjab and other regions of India.

And first time author Fatima da Silva Gracias believes quintessentially Goan food like fish curry rice and sorpotel might not last the battle with tandoori and butter chicken, which are consumed in copious proportions across the country.

“Tourists from across the globe and the new settlers, to some extent, are reshaping Goan food and bringing in new influences on it. While this adds to the richness of our food, at the same time traditional Goan food is losing its authenticity and, according to some, even dying,” Fatima told IANS.

Her book, “Cozinha de Goa - History and Tradition of Goan Food”, follows the trail of Goan cuisine, right from its roots to the present times where it stands at a crossroads, according to optimists, and near a dead-end, as per naysayers.

“Punjabi food is already popular in coastal and urban areas of Goa. Many of our restaurants offer dal fry, aloo gobi, gulab jamuns, tandooris, chicken biryani, tikkas, butter chicken, naan, parathas and rotis…We must make every effort to preserve our interesting cuisine. Only time can tell if the Goan cuisine will be able to survive, thrive and withhold the new onslaught,” she said.

Commenting on the vibrancy of the Goan food palette, Fatima said: “Goan cuisine is a vibrant fusion of varied influences — Arab, Portuguese, Brazilian, French, African, Malaysian, British, Anglo-Indian and naturally Konkan. It has a global touch, particularly the cuisine of Goan Christians. Contacts with outside world brought about a revolution in our food culture by introducing new plants that produced fruits and vegetables never seen or heard before.”

She said Goan cuisine was generally misconstrued as food cooked in the region’s Catholic homes.

“Many are not aware that Goa has another rich and ancient cuisine - the Goan Hindu cuisine, that includes the well-known Saraswat cuisine,” she says in her 250-page book.

Apart from recipes, anecdotes and notes on how Goan cuisine has evolved over the ages, Fatima’s book also lists interesting nuggets such as a menu at a Portuguese-run military hospital, which goes back to 1830.

The inmates could choose from canjee (boiled rice water), chicken stew, beef broth and fried fish.

When asked why she chose to pen a book on cuisine in Goa, she said: “Goa is going through a period of transformation, many of our food customs and traditional recipes are disappearing or changing. I wished also to leave a legacy for my own people — the new generation in my family who will never experience what I have experienced with Goan cuisine”.

(Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at mayabhushan.n@ians.in)

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