Indian food, like the country itself, is known for unity in diversity. A great testimony to this is the Indian ‘thali’. Literally meaning a plate on which food is served, a ‘thali’ in India means a grand and elaborate food affair, which includes a wide variety of dishes, from starters and appetisers to main course and dessert, all served separately in a number of small bowls. It is interesting how the concept of ‘thali’ is visible in different regions across the length and breadth of the country, albeit every ‘thali’ looks and tastes different as it represents the local culture and flavour. A ‘thali’ can be both vegetarian and non-vegetarian depending on the food choices of the local community.
The coastal state of Goa attracts plenty of tourists round the year from different parts of India and abroad. Apart from its pristine beaches and beautiful church architecture, visitors to Goa also savour the delicious Goan cuisine which includes the local Konkan and Malvani flavours. As the state had been under Portuguese rule for a considerable period of time before it was handed over to independent India, one can also find a bit of Portuguese flavour in the Goan cuisine.
When you’re in Goa, you can stay at one of the hotels in South Goa, enjoying the serene beauty of its coastline. Don’t forget to try the Goan food and especially its fish ‘thali’. After all, Goa is known for seafood and no ‘thali’ here is complete without some fish preparations. And for all those who love fish, it will be like heaven on earth. So what all can we expect in a Goan Fish Thali? Let’s find out.
- Boiled/steamed rice
As is true of almost all other coastal states in India, rice is a staple in traditional Goan lunch meals. A ‘thali’ usually includes a healthy portion of hot and freshly cooked local fat rice in boiled or steamed form that goes best with the flavourful local fish or prawn curry.
Kismur is a salad of dried, or sometimes pan-fried, prawns mixed with turmeric, chilli powder and coconut oil which is served with freshly grated coconut and raw onions.
- Kodi (Curry)
The curry is an essential part of every Indian ‘thali’ and it’s eaten with rice or bread. The Goan curry comes in different forms; the most popular among which are the authentic Goan fish curry, vindaloo curry and prawn curry. There is a popular vegetarian curry too, locally called the ‘uman’: it has a tangy taste and is served hot.
Sukhem is a dry fish preparation made with local spices including sambhar powder, jaggery, green chillies, garam masala, desiccated coconut and tamarind pulp. It is cooked till almost all of the water evaporates. It is commonly prepared with small clams or oysters.
The Poee is a soft, slightly husked leavened bread prepared from wheat flour and bran to increase its nutritional value. The fluffiness of these butterfly-shaped breads makes them perfect to go with curries and gravies.
- Rice Bhakri
It is a type of flatbread made of rice flour. It is very popular along the Konkan coast. It goes well with non-vegetarian curries.
- Fried fish
The quintessentially Goan ingredient of the Goan fish ‘thali’ is the ‘rava’ fried kingfish. Another such preparation that is also enjoyed as snack is the Mackerel Rawa Fry.
No Goan meal, or any Indian ‘thali’ for that matter, is complete without pickle. The pickle is usually a preparation of mixed vegetables or lime or mango.
- Sol Kaddi
This is a special coconut milk mixed with kokum juice and garnished with finely-chopped coriander. Another way of preparing it is with just the kokum juice, some chopped garlic and chillies and finely chopped coriander. This awesome drink tastes sour-sweet and tangy and works great as a digestive.
- Banana halwa
This lip-smacking dessert is made from ripe ‘moira’ bananas. It is soft, sweet, delicious and the perfect way to complete your traditional Goan feast.
So now that you have got a fair idea of what to expect in the Goan ‘thali’, you must definitely try it in the restaurants of Goa. As the state’s capital, Panjim offers some of the best out there.