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Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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Goa although now part of india, was a Portuguese possession—and the gateway to Portugal’s empire in the East—for 450 years. During this long period its culture was an interesting mixture of Latin influences with those of the Hindus and Muslims who represented the indigenous population. This whole mixture was overlaid for a long time by the importance of the East–West trade conducted through Goa, an importance quite disproportionate to the small size of the territory.

All this was reflected in Goan foodways, which presented an interesting blend of Portuguese and Indian cookery. The best-known example is probably vindaloo, originally a pork stew imported from Portugal but ‘Indianized’ by the addition of various spices. However, there are many other hybrid dishes. The local sausages are chouricos. Fish dishes (of which there are many (Goa being essentially a strip of coastline)) include Quisade de peixe. This is another name modelled on the Portuguese, but the fish (probably pomfret, unknown in Portugal) is dressed with an oriental spice paste before being fried. Small coconut cakes are called Bolinhos de coco (after the Portuguese bolo, a cake). Coconut, which is almost ubiquitous in the Goan kitchen, appears again, with cashew, jaggery, and cardamom, in special Goan pancakes, alebele. And all accounts of Goan food mention bebinca, an extraordinary cake made for Christmas, consisting of five or more layers of coconut-milk pancakes, although without attempting to explain what relationship, if any, they have with the bibingka which is one of the rice cakes of the philippines.