The Portuguese had a lasting influence on Goan catholic cuisine, and delicacies like vindaloo, cafreal, ‘balchao’ and ‘sorpotel’ have achieved cult status. The Portuguese left their mark not only on Goan cuisine but on the Indian culinary map, as they brought with them treasures like chilies, vinegar, tomatoes, potatoes, pineapples, the cashew fruit and varieties of mangoes to name a few from their colonies. They also brought a host of kitchen techniques like baking of bread and distilling of alcohol which has won for Goa the dubious distinction of being the land of ‘paowallahs’ and lovers of a very spirited life.
The Portuguese have gone, but their cuisine has made a mark in Goan’s heart. Many outsiders also long to taste the Goa- Portuguese cuisine like the sorpotel, vindaloo, chorico pav to name a few. It has been a great pleasure to say that one of our most famous Bollywood actor Mr. Dalip Tahil has appreciated the Portuguese cuisine in Goa. After wanting to know a little more about his taste towards Portuguese cuisine , this is what he all had to say, “I am actually here to discover the flavors of Goa and I am very interested in discovering the Goan-Portuguese cuisine that is the ‘sorpotel ‘ which is the cultural food, the core of Goan cooking in many ways”.
To speak about a few Portuguese restaurants in Goa, one of the famous authentic Portuguese restaurant is the ‘Horseshoe’ bar and restaurant along the waterfront at Rua de Ourem in Panjim. Horse Shoe is owned by Vasco Silveira , whose interest and knowledge of the authenticity of Portuguese cuisine comes from his time in Angola. He mentioned some of his signature dishes that he serves at Horse Shoe include, feijoada, chicken piri piri, butter garlic fish and many more. Also the Portuguese liquor called “Ginginha” which he says is made out of grapes and also mentions about the small berry inside the bottle.
Portuguese cuisine has always influenced the Goans over the past many years as the Portuguese were here and the Portuguese cuisine has been planned for the Goan taste but it has also remained as a genuine cuisine and that’s what people are trying to maintain.“ The ingredients are not easily available here and have to be imported, particularly bacalhau and cold meets”, endorses Vasco Silveira. Adding to that he also says, “In recent years there are many outsiders coming to Goa and cooking Goan- Portuguese cuisine, but the genuine Goan-Portuguese food is found very rarely. The names are there but the essence is missing”.
Portuguese cuisine has a taste of its own since people travel to Portugal more often now, they have developed a palate for it. While wanting to know more about Portuguese cuisine, I came across chef Rommel D’souza who owns ‘Peppers’ restaurant in Margao. He came up with this idea to start a Goan restaurant but as the time passed, he realized that running a Goan restaurant is not easy, as today’s generation prefers more of Chinese fast food, hence he has switched from Goan cuisines to multi-cuisine catering to the demands. As Portuguese food has always been loved by most of the people, ‘Peppers’ serve these Portuguese delicacies only on certain days like the weekends so that it goes out well.
Rommel D’souza has always had a liking towards Portuguese cuisine and its influence in Goa. He says, “Portuguese cuisine is a different cuisine all together and it has taken a liking because we were a part of the Portuguese in a certain way and whatever good dishes were introduced by them, are been inherited by our Goans and they are tasty by its self. The ingredients were brought from Portugal and now due to exports, it’s easier finding this ingredient in Goa”.
There are no shortcuts or fast food in Portuguese cuisine, the masalas and vinegar add to the taste. Hence the dishes remain true to the original flavors. The taste of Portugal at these restaurants is, as the saying goes, “truly Portuguesa”.