LifestyleKeeping Goan Cuisine Alive: Get to Know the Traditional Cooks

Keeping Goan Cuisine Alive: Get to Know the Traditional Cooks

Exploring the Flavors of Goan Cuisine

Intricate and diverse, Goan cuisine has a rich tradition centered around fresh seafood and age-old preservation methods. While traditionally kept within local households, a new wave of chefs and culinary enthusiasts are now sharing this culinary heritage through immersive experiences on their farms and in their kitchens.

Uncovering Culinary Secrets in Camurlim

Walking down a dusty path surrounded by gently swaying coconut trees that offer little respite from the scorching sun, I find myself seeking refuge in an unexpected oasis. Turning a corner, I stumble upon a charming farmhouse with a distinct red-tiled roof and a welcoming open balcony. This unassuming village holds a treasure trove of culinary delights waiting to be explored. Camurlim, located in North Goa near the bustling markets of Anjuna and Mapusa, is where I am set to discover the nuances of Goa’s Hindu Saraswat cuisine. Shubhra Shankhwalker, a talented graphic designer and culinary aficionado, graciously hosts immersive dining experiences for small groups at her catering company, Aai’s, named after the revered title for mother in Marathi and Konkani.

Upon arrival, Shubhra greets me with a refreshing glass of kokum juice as we settle on the balcony, feeling the cool touch of the red oxide floor beneath our feet. Hailing from the Gaud Saraswat Brahmin community, Shubhra sheds light on the misconceptions surrounding Goan Hindu cuisine, emphasizing the inclusion of chicken, mutton, and fish in their culinary repertoire. For her, cooking is not just about following recipes but also selecting premium ingredients and mastering the art of timing in the kitchen. Every element in her pantry is meticulously sourced, from the rock salt procured from the state’s dwindling salt pans to the freshly ground spices crafted with care. Drawing inspiration from her mother-in-law, Shubhra upholds the tradition of preparing everything from scratch, with a keen eye for detail in dealing with fish – a culinary cornerstone in Goan gastronomy.

Embracing the Richness of Goan Seafood

Fish, a staple in Goan cuisine, plays a vital role in shaping the region’s culinary identity. With almost 100 miles of coastline and numerous inland water bodies, Goans have easy access to a bounty of fresh seafood year-round. Shubhra stresses the importance of using only the freshest catch and tailoring dishes to suit the season. Whether sourcing fish from bustling markets or venturing out to fishing jetties in the wee hours of the morning to procure the finest prawns for pickling, the essence of Goan cooking lies in celebrating the natural flavors of the sea. Watching Shubhra expertly clean and cook fish, I absorb invaluable tips like identifying freshness in mackerel by the shimmering rainbow hues on its skin when exposed to light.

Embark on a Culinary Journey

Immerse yourself in the gastronomic wonders of Goan cuisine by learning from passionate cooks like Shubhra Shankhwalker, who are dedicated to preserving and sharing the authentic flavors of the region. Indulge in the vibrant tastes and textures of Goan Saraswat cuisine, where every dish tells a story of tradition and culinary craftsmanship. Join these culinary trailblazers on a voyage through the aromatic alleys of Goan cooking, where history and flavor converge to create a truly memorable dining experience. Experience the heart and soul of Goan cuisine, one bite at a time.

Visit National Geographic Traveler to uncover more about the cooks dedicated to preserving traditional Goan cuisine.


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