Team CaféThere has been a dramatic change in the culinary landscape in the state in the recent past. Restaurants now offering cuisines from different parts of the world have set up operations in the state. It is an ideal time for foodies in the state. People coming here from various parts of the country can now sample Japanese, Lebanese or Greek food to name just a few. But then this raises the question if visitors coming here will end up sampling these cuisines without coming within sniffing distance of authentic Goan cuisine? It is quite obvious that visitors going to other states for example Kerala or Tamil Nadu or even Rajasthan or go there to eat butter chicken. So are visitors coming here to sample international fare or eating some of the popular local dishes.Sapna Sardesai who started a very popular restaurant in Calangute focused on Saraswat food said she was getting tourists visiting her outlet. She said “They are originally from Goa but now settled in other parts of the country or living abroad. We also get a lot of communities like the Kashmiri Pundit who frequent our outlet. It is difficult to find food without Portuguese influence easily and people want that. I am placing heritage food here and this is not just a restaurant for me but a mission. There was a lot of word of mouth publicity and it surprised us. It is very encouraging. Visitors tell me they find it very difficult to find vegetarian food in Goa and this is simple home food which they love.” Rahul Khanna, a partner in a restaurant in Nerul said “The local cosine in no way has been overshadowed by the global food scene that is now available in Goa. Both international and domestic tourists still flock to Goa not just for the beaches but also the local fair and culture. Goan food had evolved in many ways, it is no longer just the humble fish Thali or just a fried fish. The uniqueness of the Goan flavours or masala are all being incorporated into many other styles of cooking and is inspiring a lot of restaurants to adopt them as part of their menu in modern ways, or just to be inspired by them in one form or another. There may be many choices in Goa but the first thing most people do as they arrive is to head to find their favourite local joint. In fact some hole in the wall restaurants are not getting as much fame as bigger well known brands”.Another long time resident in Goa, Jeet Khandwala was categorical in his love for Goan food. He said “Having travelled extensively, Goan cuisine still remains one of my favourites. I made Goa my home after starting my beverage brand here and I more often than not dine in local restaurants over others as the uniqueness of Goan flavours is not often found in most metros. There is so much choice when it comes to local food with styles varying from region to region within Goa.”However there were also people who held a contrarian view. Nandan Kudchadkar said it was fact the local cuisine was being overshadowed by cuisines being brought in from other states and countries. He said” If we look back twenty years ago we had a community of cusiniers who had travelled the world and trained others. Look at the corporate hotels, like the Taj who had chefs from Goa who trained others. Now however the new generation has not bothered to be trained in these skills. Every family has its own style of cooking and secrets which are passed down through the generations. That is not happening now. Now there is a Nepali cook in the kitchen. He can prepare the dish but it is about knowing when to throw the spice in. this thing of youngsters not being interested is an indication of our times. If that is the case then how will you get Goan fare and then why should visitors want to sample it. We need to find a solution”. He went on to say that perhaps it was time for a call to go out to society that stops this disturbing trend. Perhaps expert cooks could start uploading videos of how Goan food was prepared and promote it. Otherwise he said people would come to Goa eat Greek, Lebanese or other cuisines and leave without eating some great local cuisine.
This is an emotional subject without a doubt and one can only hope the dark warnings do not turn into reality