Monday, September 3, 2018

Goa walking food tour : Goa on my Plate

When I first started The Foodietrails Blog, it was to get to experience a place and its culture and history, through the food that the people of that place cooked, served and enjoyed. And to me nothing says ‘experience a place’ like walking the streets and eating local cuisine, aka a food walking tour.
For years I had contemplated starting my own food walking tour, and have written blogs on the same to help tourists and travellers get more of a Goan experience on their travels.

And thus, I started my own Food and history walking tour in Goa , called ‘ Goa on my plate.’

Goa, unlike rest of India was never under British Rule, the Portuguese occupied Goa for over 4 centuries and another difference is that unlike rest of India which considers their occupants (Britishers) as unwelcome Rulers, many in Goa consider the Portuguese as ancestors. 

For a lot of Goans this would be common knowledge, but for me it had been utterly fascinating and I was amazed at the twists of fate that had led to the Portuguese rule of Goa from 1510 to 1961. As an outsider who is now an insider, I have a unique outlook to what Goa means to me.

Me in my official Goa on my plate T shirt

The team from Thinkin'Culture outside Mary Immaculate Church , Panjim

I was delighted and honoured to have been able to take a group of ten travellers from Nagpur in a food walking tour of Panjim, seeing some local street graffiti, some historical architectural monuments, and also eat some super local food.

 From physically taking a large group of travellers through the city, showing them places of historical importance (like where the Portuguese landed for the first time in India, or where the famous battles were fought) , to taking into account all the dietary specifications of the people ( most of them ate no egg, even in cakes or desserts). A food walk was an immersive experience not just for the guests , but for me too.

Our meeting point was the Iconic Panjim Church or the ‘Our Lady of Immaculate conception ‘ church. But to my amazement, these guys had never heard or seen the church! They had only known Panjim for the Casinos !

The chapel turned Church has served as an Iconic backdrop for many Bollywood films (eg, Josh), and can be seen on many fridge magnets and keychains, but we went into the strategic location of the church, and the significance of the bell, which came from another historical church , the St Augustine’s church, which now lies in Ruins, but even the ruins have played scenic roles in films like Singham and others. The local touch was my telling them about the live naitevety scenes on the eve of Christmas with goats, Cows , ducks et al and last year the naitevety scene was created out of plastic bottles and plastic wastes.

Other interesting facts that we shared were;
Did you know that Vasco Da Gama had never come to – Vasco da Gama the port city in Goa ?
Did you know that Vasco Da Gama had actually never been to Goa ?
Did you know that Goa was never ordered to be captured by the King of Portugal, King Manuel, he had sent the Governor to capture only Hormuz , Aden and Malacca on his voyage?
 And that when Governor of Portuguese state of India, Afonso de Albuquerque , had captured Goa, and for a short while afterwards, King Manuel had even contemplated giving up the colony of Goa back to the Indian subcontinent ?

participants enjoying the local Goan flavours

Bespoke Food walking tours : Goa on my Plate

selfies with the Nagpur team from Thinkin'Culture

We walked along the some of the most colourful lanes in Goa, the Fontainhas area, and at in Iconic Goan Cafes serving local food inspired by the Portuguese, as well as neighbouring areas of Mangalore. We visited quaint cafes like the 31 January Confeitaria, the iconic Café Central, and the ever busy and almost a century old Café Bhonsle.

We discovered the graffiti work curated by Haneef Quereshi and his team from Street-art, St-art, India. The theme of most of their art work is how Goans perceive tourists and how tourists in turn perceive Goans, and it seemed apt since we were on a journey of discovery ourselves.

We walked down roads with historically significant dates like 18 june Road, and 31 January road, and we walked past places with interesting pasts like the Panjim General post office, and the Adil Shah Palace. And I shared how the Portuguese had indeed sailed in on their Caravelas into the river Mandovi and the summer palace of Adil shah was the first and the most important area captured by the Portuguese. It was here on these very streets that the Portuguese decided to fill the streets with chillies and hot spices that they were carrying as cargo, so that the enemy soldiers could not cross the spice laden streets.

The team from Thinkin'Cuture discovering colourful lanes in Fontainhas

The famed Goan Almi Mushroon, each leaf filled with Mushrooms were for Rs 400, these local wild mushrooms are like the Indian Truffle

Discovering Local wall art in Panjim, with Goa on my Plate
 We ended our walk with the eggless dessert Serradura –translated into Saw dust Pudding because of the crushed Marie biscuits that are sprinkled on top of the condensed milk pudding, giving it a saw-dust like appearance. The Serradura was infact a popular dessert of Macau , which too was a Portuguese colony. And you can see the travel of influence through the food story here. There are many desserts which are famous and prevalent in Goa, and these make use of egg yolks, such as the Bebinca and Pasteis de nata. The use of egg yolks in desserts, have an interesting back story as well.

Since we didn’t have too many non-vegetarians on this leg of the food walk, we went to just one stop for the inimitable street food of Goa, the Ros omelette, which serves up a fresh fluffy omelette doused in spicy chicken Xacuti curry and topped with onions and lime wedges. Chicken and beef cutlets, mutton croquettes, prawn rissois and pork mince pies are other non-vegetarian Goan snacks that I hope to introduce to on other food walks.


Ros omlette , with Goa on my plate

In Forensic medicine we call it Locard’s principle, that when two objects come in contact, there is an exchange. In forensic medicine it is the trace remains of blood and fingerprints, and when people meet it is often an exchange of ideas and when cultures and countries meet there is an exchange in trade, spices, food trends. With the food walk, I hope to be able to educate, entertain and inspire people to experience Goa like they haven’t before. Locard’s principle also suggests that the exchange is never one way, and by taking my love of food from an online to an offline audience, I myself have experienced Goa in a unique way, through the eyes of a traveller.

If you wish to join me on a food walk around panjim email me on :


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