Herald: Goan history on a platter
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Goan history on a platter

31 Mar 2015 11:39pm IST

Report by
Dolcy D’Cruz

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31 Mar 2015 11:39pm IST

Report by
Dolcy D’Cruz

Odette Mascarenhas is known for her cookbooks and documenting Goan original recipes from authentic sources. Her latest book, ‘Culinary Heritage of Goa’ has been shortlisted for the ‘Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2015’ for the ‘Best in the World’ in the historical recipes section and the best self published section. She speaks on making it amongst the best in India and finally making Goa shine at the international platform

When you get Odette Mascarenhas talking about Goan food, you are sure to lose track of time. Working with experts in Goan cuisine from across the state and different eras, Odette is an encyclopaedia when it comes to Goan culinary heritage. After winning a special jury award at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards in 2008 for her book, ‘Masci: The Man Behind the Legend’, this year, Odette has been nominated for the ‘Best in the World’ in the historical recipes section for her latest book, ‘Culinary Heritage of Goa’.

“I received an intimation by the Gourmand World Cookbook awards that the book has been shortlisted from 205 countries as it is the best in India in the historical recipes section. The Gourmand World Cookbook awards are like the Olympics in the world of food, and we are proud to represent India for the award and we are competing with countries like Venezuela, Hong Kong, Spain, Canada, Estonia and France. I have my fingers crossed, but if we do win, we have to go on stage with the flag of India to accept the award,” says Odette, who will be making her way to Yangtai China in June for the award function.

The book is published by Joe Mascarenhas, Odette’s husband and the photographs have been clicked by their son, Nolan, which qualifies it for the Best self published book at the Awards. “This book showcases Goan heritage through Nolan’s captivating photography with the knowledge shared by the chefs of the three year-old Goan Culinary Club. My thanks go out to the entrepreneurs who shared their recipes so that Goan recipes could be documented, and to my husband and publisher, Joe, for his constant support,” says Odette, who was a Food and Beverages manager at the Taj group of hotels for 18 years and through her years in the industry she is apt in documentation. 

Odette was inspired by the idea behind the book on February 14, 2013 and within nine months the book was ready for release at the Goa Art and Literature Festival (GALF). “It was the hard work that we put in to make the book so historically accurate and special with people’s recipes and their stories. The book is a cross cultural reference. When I went to receive my award in 2008, I spoke about Goan cuisine and the Chicken Cafreal and Peri Peri and people were surprised to know these dishes came from Goa. These recipes and the history behind them is not documented anywhere,” she explains.

She further adds, “Nolan did a wonderful job of documenting the stories with coloured photographs that one can relate to. I have mentioned the types of brinjals and pineapples that are found in Goa and the 16 varieties of chillies of Goa and the preparations that go certain dishes like the Xacuti and the Shagoti.”

Odette is hoping to educate Goans and to increase their thirst to know more about the cuisine from the right sources. Her future plans include releasing the second edition of ‘Goan Recipes and More’. “I am also planning on writing a book on poetry that focuses on the History of Goa, while interspersing it with recipes of that era,” she concludes.  

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