Posts Tagged ‘goa’

An Ode to Papa

Posted: March 14, 2012 in dribs and drabs
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Papa, my maternal grandfather, lived in Alto Ranoi, Quitla, Aldona. He and my grandmother raised six children in a large house. I believe all his children were born in that house but I cannot be sure. It’s true that some of his grandchildren were born in there. Papa, I’m told, in the days when he was able to work, managed a general store in the village. A store that sold every commodity that a household would ever require. From food to toiletries to even port wine, cashew and coconut feni. Some of you may remember Papa, a very distinguished looking man with a proud face and an even proud mustache. I have memories of sitting in his lap and curling the ends of his mustache. In the house, two portraits of him hung on a wall directly above a rattan settee. Beside the settee was a dark wood (teak or ebony perhaps) showcase in which were kept dainty little glasses for serving port wine out of, good china, elegant carvings of bone and other artefacts that we were allowed to look at through the glass front. I like to tell the story of Papa leading the evening rosary every day after which he took out the little glasses and poured all the prayerful people a shot of port wine. I remember sleeping through the rosary prayers but being wide awake for my shot. I couldn’t have been older than 3 or 4 so what does that tell you about me? Only kidding! I still say the rosary and I rarely partake of the shot.

The house was always bustling with people. Can you imagine? Six grown children, their spouses, their children. Oh my! Picture the celebrations at birthdays, first communions, marriages, baptisms and sadly, funerals. My grandmother would have had nine children in all but three died as babies. They were mourned in that house. By the time my own mother, the youngest of all the children was 27, my grandmother died. She had to be young and I never got to know her. She was mourned in that house too.

Did Papa and his wife have help with all of this? Oh yes they did. Zuzin, an adopted but important person in the family not only assisted with childbirths (a midwife of her own making), she cared for the children, home and farm. I can still picture Zuzin, who incidentally, was appointed my godmother, multitasking in a big way. One minute she was returning from working in the fields, next minute, she was bathing a cousin, then cooking up the afternoon meal, then attending to the yield from the field – setting it out to dry, preserve and so on. What a woman!

What did the house look like? My memory is fading but I remember large rooms with high ceilings. The hall was impressive both in it’s size and décor. The tables with doilies and bowls of artificial fruit or vases of flowers made the room look inviting. When the windows on the one side of the house were flung open in the mornings, the brightness was cheery and welcome. Every Goan house had an altar in one corner of the room towards which we all faced when praying together. This house was no different. The altar, a wooden construction of shelving had brass candlesticks, statues of Mary, Joseph holding Jesus and other saints. There were large gilt framed pictures of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary on the wall above the altar and one of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. Papa was a devoted man and led his family in prayer on a regular basis.

In my very early years, I was fortunate to live in the house with my mother’s sister (Papa’s eldest child), a remarkable woman who became my guardian. So, my very early memories of the house are of learning to walk and talk. Walking in the house was tough on a toddler in training – the entrance to every room seemed to be a step down or a step up. I fell a lot and cried a lot but it sure turned me into a sturdy youngster. I remember the stone wall surround on the other side of which was the road. I was allowed to freely roam the gardens outside, climb the low trees and even the stone wall. Many a times, I had bloodied knees from these attempts but such freedom for a child is defintely to be cherished.

I invite cousins and anyone who remembers the house to send me their memories and I will incorporate them into this blog post. One cousin remembers that Papa grew coffee plants along the boulevard beside the house. During the monsoons, the plants blossomed and the beautiful flowers exuded a sweet fragrance.

So, this is an ode to Papa and his house. May the house and it’s occupants remain strong in our memories. May the new occupiers of this home have just as many rich experiences as did Papa and his family.

Photos: Complements of Eddie DeSouza and my cousin Linda.


Mapusa Market on a Friday

Posted: October 30, 2011 in Uncategorized
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This market is definitely something to experience. Don’t forget to hone your bargaining skills and expect to haggle. It’s totally expected of you, the buyer. Of course, you can choose to ignore this advice and pay the asking price but the experience is bland and hardly adventurous. Bear in mind, it’s not cool to haggle over food prices because they remain fairly competitive. Feel free to haggle over the prices of other merchandise such as clothing, footwear, shawls, carpets, jewellry and so on.

There is absolutely no end to the merchandise available at this market. Here is another sampling of what you can buy. The goods are diverse and you can expect to see anything and everything.

Take your time and when you get hungry, there’s ample food to tickle your palate with.  Feast your eyes on these scrumptious goa sausages (chorizos) which are not exactly like the spanish chorizo but similar.

There are cafes you can hide in if the heat gets to you – they’re usually air-conditioned. Cafe SF Xavier is my favorite because you can not only eat there but browse around the cafe market for curios and gifts to buy your friends back home. Authentic goan artefacts, books and sweets. The kind of sweets your granny made for Christmas. Dodol, Batco, pinag and all those yummies.

Photos: complements of my flickr friends Fred Noronha and Christina Pinto.

Cashew – A Fruit

Posted: January 30, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I’ll bet you didn’t know the cashew is a fruit. Am I right? If you didn’t grow up in cashew country, how would you know? Most people think that the nut itself grows on trees. Few know that it is actually attached to a fruit and that the fruit is utilized as well.

So that is one kind of cashew which is red. My grandmother had a grove and as children, we called it ‘secret grove’ because we weren’t allowed anywhere near the grove. You can guess why right? Snakes, they told us. The fear of snakes kept us from doing all sorts of exploring for excitement or so the elders thought. Still, I’m not sure where the fruit grove is and it can remain a mystery for all I care. What matters is that we all got to enjoy the abundance that the fruit grove produced.

So, it was nothing unusual to see Mae and Santan shucking cashew nuts from their fruit. The fruit all went into a big crock so that feni could be made from it. Wait, I’ll talk about the feni later. First, let’s talk about the nut. The kernel is quite soft and can be split with a knife if you want to leave the nut raw. For roasting, the whole kernel is roasted and the outer covering removed to expose the crispy roasted nut.

cashew in bowl_Daniel Panev_post.jpg

While we enjoyed the roasted nuts as a snack, sometimes the raw ones were ground and used in recipes for both sweets and also in savoury dishes.

Now, I’ve never made feni but I certainly have sipped on this exotic and exhilarating drink. I’m sure at times, I hallucinated on it because I….. never mind. As if I would know what it means to hallucinate – cough, cough! Anyway, all I can say is that feni, also known as Cajel is quite the drink and would put Tequila to shame. Everyone has to try cashew feni at least once. By the way, feni can be made from coconut as well. Cashew feni has an exquisite flavour. All this talk of feni is making me wish I had some. Yeah right! Where would I find feni on the west coast of Canada? Dream on Bardezgirl!

I found this link and apparently they will mail a bottle of this feni for the price of $49.00 plus shipping. Now, I have to figure out whether it’s worth it to me to pay this or whether I should just wait until my next trip to India when i can buy some for a lot cheaper! Hmmmm….

Don’t you just love the sight of these incredible fruit? Incidentally, they possess a high content of oxalic acid in them which, if you eat too much, makes your throat pucker up! So, caution my friends. Eat a small quantity in one sitting or else, just enjoy the fruit or better still, sit in the shade of a banyan tree in your grandmother’s back garden and sip on the exotic alcoholic derivation known as Feni!

Village Chapel

Posted: December 10, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Goa 9

On the little road that led from the junction of the church road and the village road, on the way to Mae’s house, there is a chapel much like this one. A simple little chapel where you could see the cross through a barred off entrance. It wasn’t meant to be like a church where you stepped in, knelt down to pray and where a priest would preside. Instead, it was a little wayside chapel so that you could remember to stop and pray on your way to somewhere else. A ltitle whitewashed chapel. I loved to stop and stare inside it as if expecting something miraculous to happen. What I didn’t realize at that time is that the miracles were all around. In the kindness of the people I saw each day, my grandmother, my family, my friends, the fields, the animals, every single little thing. I hope that the chapel in Bodiem still stands where it used to.

Mapusa Fish Market

Posted: October 13, 2010 in Uncategorized
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goa fish market

It’s my birthday tomorrow and my mother told me that while she waited in anticipation for my arrival, all she could smell was fish, I decided to write a blog about the Mapusa market. Yes, you got it, I was born in Mapusa supposedly not far from the fish market.   I can’t remember if my mother liked fish after that but I certainly do. I could make it my ONLY diet but in this part of the world, fish is not cheap. Also, there are so many environmental and political reasons for not eating this or that fish. I just save it for special times. My family doesn’t care for meat so a special Christmas meal may consist of fish.  Great!

Anyway, back to Mapusa and the fish market. Now, check out the fisherwoman. She looks shrewd doesn’t she. Also, fish must exude some kind of hormone just in the odour because don’t forget these women transport the fish from long distances, carrying the baskets on their head. I tell you the hormones have a direct effect on the fisherwoman’s ability to tear a strip off you if she doesn’t like how you haggle. They either take a liking to you or not. If you are a regular, good thing but if you are a stray who stops by the inspect the fish for it’s freshness, ‘watch out’! You could get a barrage of swear words shouted at you in Konkani. Or else, just a plain  ‘Maka Kallana.’  Guess that shuts a person up. Anyway, my father who did most of the shopping in our family had no problem with these people. He was a regular and probably went to the same women everytime. He didn’t haggle because I think he felt sorry for them and wanted to help their sales. It didn’t make my mother happy when my father came home with way too much fish for just our family to consume. Anyway, none of us kids complained because we loved the fish and the way my mother cooked it.

I loved how Mummy stuffed the bhangde and been looking all over for a recipe. I found this one on GoaNet which looks pretty close to how she made it. I think these days, you can buy the ready made masala paste for the fish but this receipe shows how to make it:

Stuffed Mackerel – Goa Style

Cooking: 20 minutes
6 mackerels, cleaned and deboned (see below), if you like you can skip
deboning the fish
juice from 2 limes
maldon salt
oil for cooking
18 curry leaves
4 onions, peeled and sliced
6 tbsp Goan masala paste (see recipe)
6 tbsp finely chopped corriander
1 large red chilli, seeds removed and diced
To Serve
lemon wedges
slices of shop purchases naan bread (optional)
pilaf rice with chickpeas (see recipe)
or boiled rice

Wash and dry the inside of the fish. Rub salt and lime juice into the flesh
of the mackerels.

Heat a little oil in a saucepan over a moderate-high heat, saute the onion
in the pan until golden brown. Add the curry leaves and masala paste and
cook for a couple of minutes until aromatic. Remove the pan from the heat,
stir in the corriander and chilli. Allow the mixture to cool.

*To Stuff:*
Rub the stuffing mixture on the flesh inside the mackerels. Refigerate for
1-2 hours (to allow the flavours to develop).

*To Cook:*
Preheat a grill. Cover a grill tray with foil and coat it lightly with oil.
Brush the mackerels with oil and place on the grill tray. Cook the fish
under the grill for 5-6 minutes on each side (turning carefully), the fish
should be golden brown and cooked through.
To Serve: Serve with wedge of lemon and accompany with slices of naan bread
(optional) and pilaf or boiled rice.

*To Debone:*
Cut the fish open along the belly, remove its inards, wash and dry it with
kitchen paper or a tea towel. Place it on a board belly side down. Using the
heel of your hand push down on the fish firmly on its backbone. loosening it
from the flesh. Cut the back bone near the head and tail, and carefully pull
it out. Remove the side bones with a sharp knife and pin bone the fish.




Posted: October 9, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Who remembers this? Mae had a tree right at the foot of the property. If you went over to the steps and stood on the highest part of the concrete, you could reach these. Still, who wanted to grab the pokey exterior. We waited until someone else had the nerve to open it, what a surprise.

I saw someone just tear into it once, not even with a knife, just fingers.  I suspect the jackfruit must have been ripe.   The thick and brownish-yellow rind has small protrusions, not sharp but not comfortable either. Inside it are these succulent yellow bulbs embedded in a fibrous pocket. Inside the bulbs are seeds. Now, we’ve probably eaten just about every part of the jackfruit. Some relative made a curry out of the fibrous pockets and the inside of the rind. We definitely devoured the sweet fruit after the seeds had been removed. Mae would dry and then roast the seeds in an open fire. They had a semblance to brazil nuts maybe? Anyone remember? Very nice. I never liked the goey sap that covered my hands when I tried to separate the fruit from the fiber. Some people would oil their hands to get it out. Yum.

JACKFRUITWish that I could say that these pictures were exactly from Mae’s garden but anyone who remembers, will think it is, thanks to who has generously supplied me photos. If anyone remembers anything else about Mae’s house or the fruit trees, feel free to comment.

Tendli Pickle or Tindora

Posted: September 30, 2010 in Uncategorized
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While talking to my cousin in Brampton recently, she reminded me of this wonderful pickle made from tendlis or gherkins, how they are known in the West.  Frankly, I’ve never seen this vegetable in mainstream grocery markets but I suspect that Indian grocery stores worldwide carry them.  I remember the vegetable itself is quite bland but when cooked up with coconut and spices, made for a tasty vegetable.

Mae and Santan both made this delectable pickle from tendlis and I remember going into this darkened pantry off a little room entered from the kitchen.  Straight ahead of the door was this dark cool room, a cold storage of sorts where Mae stored pickles in earthenware jars and large crocks.  She also kept different kinds of jaggery here.  How would I know that right?  Well, I did  get caught coming out of there once with dark stains around my mouth.  Mae scolded me but i doubt I got a whipping.   Mae was always too happy to see her grandchildren to be angry for any length of time.  Again, these pictures of tendlis or the recipe does not belong to me but some special goans on the web who are happy to share.

Tendlis are not to be mistaken for pickling cucumbers because they somewhat resemble each other.  NOT!  In this blog, I intend only to post the pickle recipe but please know that you can prepare many vegetable dishes from tendlis.  So, here is Kristina’s tendli pickle recipe.  Enjoy

Ingredients :

Tendlis (small gherkins) 100
Oil 2 cups
Green chillies 10
Garlic 3 pods
Ginger 3″piece
Vinegar 1 cups
Chilly powder 2 tbsp
Turmeric 1 tbsp
Sugar 2 tbsp

Preparation :

Cut the tendlis into quarters, add salt and hang overnight in a muslin cloth to let the water drain.

Mince the green chillies, garlic and ginger. Heat the oil over fierce heat, add the chillies, garlic and ginger. Fry well being careful not to burn it.

When well fried, add the vinegar, chilly powder, turmeric, tendlis and sugar. Bring to boil stirring continuously, then remove from fire.

Pour into sterilized jars making sure the pickle is covered with oil.