Perched on the golden shores of south-west India, the colourful state of Goa has been attracting visitors to its vibrant shores for decades. In fact, its appeal stretches back even further, back to the days when European invaders were keen to start a life on its shores, taking advantage of the natural resources of the state and bringing their own foreign ingredients and recipes to blend with the Goan culinary culture.
As a result, Goan cuisine is a unique mix of cultural influences, a sensationally exotic and spicy cuisine that stands out amongst the many delicious culinary traditions that can be found on the sub-continent. The food of this region is notable for its penchant for spicy chillies, succulent seafood and creamy coconut, but Goan cuisine also embraces the non-vegetarian lifestyle, thanks to its roots in Portuguese culture.
Chicken is a popular meat in Goa and there are three speciality dishes in particular that any fan of Indian cuisine simply must try:
- Chicken cafreal
It is said that chicken cafreal is to Goa what tandoori chicken is to the Punjab – something of a signature dish. It is believed that this delicious dish was brought to Goa by the African soldiers, known as ‘kaffirs’, hundreds of years ago. This sumptuous dish is made up of fried chunks of chicken, soaked in a marinade of green chilles, garlic, ginger and spice. A zesty Indian salad makes an excellent accompaniment to the dish, as well as a hunk of freshly baked bread.
- Chicken xacuti
The exotically named chicken xacuti is another speciality dish of Goa and particularly favoured by those who enjoy a spicy mouthful or two. The heat of the dish comes from a selection of hot red or green chillies as well as an assortment of warming spices such as cloves, ginger and nutmeg. A tangy note is achieved with the addition of tamarind. All you need is a squeeze of lemon juice and the dish is ready to serve.
- Chicken coconut curry
It wouldn’t be Indian cuisine without a delicious curry on the menu, and the Goan coconut curry is one of the tastiest to be found in South India. There are an abundance of coconut palms growing on the shores of Goa and the people make full use of the creamy flesh of this ingredient as well as the luscious coconut milk within. A variety of exotic spices such as cumin and coriander play their part in this flavoursome dish, whilst a dollop of tamarind paste and hefty helping of creamed coconut balances out the sweet and sour notes perfectly. This curry can be served with traditional Goan bread or fluffy grains of rice.
The greatest thing about a visit to one of London’s best Indian fine dining restaurants is that you will have the opportunity to try a varied range of specialities from all over the sub-continent. The menus evolve as the seasons pass so you are likely to find something new to try, no matter what time of year you choose to visit. Whether it is a succulent chicken dish you are craving or a vegetarian delicacy, you can rest assured you will have the opportunity to sample the very best of authentic Indian cuisine.