04 Mar 2023  |   04:44am IST

From Portugal to Goa, exchanging ideas and broadening mindsets

Students and academics from 12 Portuguese cities are in Goa to familiarise themselves with Goan hospitality, cuisine and culture, as part of a broader cultural exchange programme between India and Portugal. They are getting first-hand experience on the way of life in Goa and many are finding it similar to their hometowns
From Portugal to Goa, exchanging ideas and broadening mindsets

Team Café

The visiting delegation of 12 Portuguese students and faculty will get a first-hand experience of classic Goan hospitality through a well-planned itinerary put together by the host, V M Salgaocar Institute of International Hospitality Education (VMSIIHE). Their intensive itinerary in Goa features a packed curriculum including field trips, practi-cum-work sessions and visits to various places in Goa as part of the ‘Collaborative International Training and Education program’ with Turismo de Portugal.

Faculty member Luís Manuel dos Santos Tarenta from Oeste is accompanying the students on their visit to Goa. “The itinerary provided by the institute is very diverse, providing us with a broad understanding of Goan life and culture. The story of Goa and Portugal unites us despite the positive and negative aspects of it. As a result of this history, we see the influence of Portugal in Goa. There are some Portuguese words used in Konkani. We also see many houses from the Portuguese colonial era. The institute’s training is far exceeding our expectations. I hope to be able to replicate many of the recipes I learned and even pass some on to the students in Portugal,” says Luís.

Agonda Beach was one of the favourite places visited by Alexandre Monteiro from Viana do Castelo, Portugal. “The most beautiful thing we saw was that the Goans we met were delighted to meet Portuguese people and were proud of the historical and cultural exchanges between our two countries. It was a huge opportunity for me to become acquainted with the world beyond my country’s borders, to learn a new culture, meet new people, and indulge in a completely different cuisine, in short, to immerse myself in a different reality. I appreciate all of the information that has been provided to us because it will be very useful in the future. I will definitely try recreating lassies and the Chapli Kebab when I go back home,” says Alexandre.

“I had a great time at Godinho’s Bakery. I found the bakery interesting due to its long history. Goa is a very peaceful and pleasant place to live, and it has been the best experience of my life thus far. It’s the polar opposite of what I expected at first. I was anticipating confusion and a lot of noise. There are numerous parallels between Goa and Portugal. First and foremost, I’d like to emphasise how friendly the people are. Secondly, we can see that the dishes in Goa have roots that connect the two cuisines, and the similarities elevate the two cuisines. Thirdly, I notice a lot of churches in Goa, which reminds me of Portugal,” says student Diogo Alexandre from Algarve, Portugal.

“In this exchange programme, I hope to learn a lot about Indian cuisine, take advantage of all the opportunities that have been provided to us, and meet new people while learning about their culture. Makhani Gravy, Calicut Biryani, Chapli Kebab, and Bebinca are the Goan and Indian delicacies that I’d like to try making at home. My overall Goa experience was spectacular and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I made new friends, learned about new cultures, and most importantly, I got to meet the incredible people I’ve met so far on this journey,” he says.

Student from Estoril, Portugal, Diogo Roque Costa says, “Since my arrival in Goa, I’ve felt like every place I’ve visited was unique in its own way. The Dudhsagar waterfalls was also breathtaking, with an adventurous and fun ride to get there, and wildlife you might not see so easily in Portugal. Despite a difference in our religion, I enjoyed visiting the temple because it was a unique experience for me. Eating with our hands and walking barefoot in the temple made me feel more connected to Goa’s culture and people. There are many similarities between Goa and Portugal, from the food to the weather to the people, and it took some time to adjust. However, you eventually grow accustomed to the chaos of traffic, as well as the noise and smell of the streets. The food is rich and complex, and the weather is mostly hot and humid, as opposed to a dry summer in the Algarve. The main similarity between us I would say is in the way the people behave with foreigners. As a Portuguese, there is no better feeling than to welcome someone in my country, and I feel that same energy from the people of Goa, especially when I tell them I’m from Portugal,” says Diogo.

Gustavo Pires, a student from Coimbra, Portugal finds the most memorable experience was visiting one of the traditional temples from Ponda, where they had a meal the traditional way. “Our experience with Goa’s culture was very important because it helped us see it through our own cultural lens. Goa’s nature is truly abundant and expansive. My mother had spent 6 months in Sri Lanka and India, so I was already familiar with the Indian culture and way of life. The churches are the only thing that reminds me of home, as the Portuguese brought the influence of Christianity to Goa. It is this existing cultural link between our countries, in particular, that has made me fond of Goa,” explains Gustavo.

He further adds, “I expected to broaden my horizons and grow as an individual as a result of my interaction with Indian culture and learning how Indians live their lives. I’m already homesick, but the food has been my greatest pleasure thus far. For me, Indian cuisine is delicious; the levels of spice and flavour combinations are amazing; and the way you can take one product and use it in several completely different dishes astonishes me.”

Marcos Silva from Lisboa, Portugal is a student who loved visiting places like Dudhsagar Waterfalls and the Sahakari Spice Farm, where he was able to see a variety of spices in their early stages of growth before being picked and processed, was his favourite part of the visit. “Apart from the Portuguese names and the welcoming nature of the Goans, I don’t see many parallels between the two. However, this does not detract from the overall experience. It only adds to the intrigue,” says Marcos.

He has even learnt some Konkani words and phrases. “I was most excited to learn Indian/Goan cooking. The mainstream idea of Indian cooking in Portugal is a chicken curry with lots of turmeric served with steamed basmati rice, but I’m glad this has been proven incorrect. We have been learning Indian/Goan cuisine extensively for the past two weeks and I feel like we haven’t even touched the tip of the iceberg. We still have two weeks to try more food here, but I will definitely make anything involving mutton or lamb, such as the Mutton Roganjosh, because these proteins are very popular in Alentejo, a region in southern Portugal where my mother is from. I’ll also attempt the Bebinca and the Dodol,” adds Marcos, who feels that Goa is very different from Portugal, but that is what makes it interesting, fun and worth coming for.

The second leg of the cultural exchange program will involve students of VMSIIHE visiting Portugal on a similar trip soon to raise awareness of the value of training for the growth and sustainability of the tourism industry in both countries.


Idhar Udhar