11 Jul 2024  |   05:14am IST

Traditional Goan snacks that bring out the monsoon charm

Goan traditional snacks are a delightful blend of sweet and savory treats, reflecting the region’s rich culinary heritage influenced by Portuguese and Indian flavours
Traditional Goan snacks that bring out the monsoon charm

Meliston Fernandes

The traditional snacks of Goa reflect the region's unique blend of Indian and Portuguese influences, resulting in a diverse and delicious array of treats. “When I was a child during the summer holidays, we stayed at my grandmother's house. Grandma used to make us these snacks for afternoon tea. I used to like tizan, ghodsem and sirvole that she used to make. Alle Belle was my favorite. I really miss those days,” says Gladson Fernandes from Sarzora.

“When I was young, I used to prepare sannas, patoleos, khole with my mother during festive times. For tea time, my mother used to give us tizann, ghodsem, atol, etc. These are now not prepared in our house and even if I prepare them, my children don’t want to eat them. They prefer things from outside like sharwma, cutlet bread, etc,” says Jenifa Fernandes from Paroda. 

Roasted cashew and jackfruit nuts: These are a delightful and nutritious snacks that highlights the rich agricultural produce of Goa. Cashew nuts, which are abundant in the region, are carefully roasted to enhance their natural flavor and crunchiness. The roasting process brings out a deep, nutty aroma and gives the cashews a slightly golden hue, making them irresistible. Jackfruit nuts, on the other hand, are the seeds found inside the large, tropical jackfruit. These seeds are often boiled or roasted after being extracted from the fruit. When roasted, jackfruit seeds develop a unique flavor profile that is somewhat reminiscent of chestnuts, with a starchy, nutty taste and a firm yet tender texture.

Patoleo: It is a traditional Goan sweet delicacy, particularly popular during festivals such as the Feast of the Assumption, Sao Joao and Ganesh Chaturthi. This unique treat is made by steaming rice flour dough that is spread on turmeric leaves and filled with a mixture of fresh grated coconut, jaggery, and sometimes cardamom for added flavor. The turmeric leaves impart a distinct aroma and taste to the rice dough, while the sweet coconut and jaggery filling offers a rich sweetness. The combination of these elements creates a delightful harmony of flavors and textures, making Patoleo not only a delicious snack but also a cherished symbol of Goan cultural heritage.

Sannas: Sannas is a traditional Goan delicacy, cherished for its unique texture and delightful flavor. These steamed rice cakes are made primarily from a batter of ground rice and coconut, sweetened with jaggery. The batter is typically fermented, which gives the sannas a slightly tangy flavor and a soft, spongy texture. Cardamom is often added to the mix, enhancing the sweet aroma and taste. Once the batter is prepared, it is poured into molds or small containers and steamed until fully cooked. Ghodachi san’nas are often enjoyed as a snack or dessert, reflecting the rich culinary heritage of Goa with their use of local ingredients like coconut and jaggery. These sweet rice cakes are a testament to the region’s knack for creating simple yet flavorful dishes that are deeply rooted in tradition.

Alle Belle: Alle Belle is a traditional Goan sweet delicacy, often enjoyed as a tea-time treat. They are also known as “manki” in some parts of Goa. These delicious crepes are made from a batter of flour, eggs, and coconut milk, giving them a soft, tender texture. They are filled with a mixture of grated coconut and jaggery. Once filled, the crepes are rolled up, creating a delightful combination of creamy, sweet filling encased in a delicate pancake. Alle Belle expresses the essence of Goan cuisine with its use of coconut and jaggery, offering a simple yet amazing taste.  

Empadinha: Oliver Fernandes from Loutolim, a food enthusiast expresses, “Empadinhas are small pies. These are baked with various stuffing. The most famous Portuguese variant seen in earlier days here were the Empadinhas de porco which had a slightly sweet outer pastry crust. These are not seen much today, probably because the sweet outer casing doesn’t suit our palate or the other reason could be that we do not have many who know how to make them today. Empadinhas in whichever form are not very popular today. In my view, the Goan Empadinhas are different from the Portuguese to the extent of the stuffing. We can have various kinds of meat stuffing with varying spice combinations. There are no classic recipes for empadinhas so they are left up to the cooks creativity.” 

Ghodsem: Ghodsem is a traditional Goan sweet treat often enjoyed during festivals, religious ceremonies, and special occasions. This delightful dish is made using wheat or gram, grated coconut, and jaggery, and is known for its rich flavor and appealing texture. Ghodsem holds a special place in Goan culinary tradition, especially during festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and other celebrations. Its preparation and sharing reflect the communal and celebratory spirit of Goan culture. It’s was famous tea time snack during olden days. 

Tizann: This humble yet hearty dish is made from ragi, a locally grown millet that's been cherished for its nutritional value for generations. Ground to a fine powder, ragi is cooked slowly with water or milk until it transforms into a creamy porridge, infused with the essence of coconut and sometimes flavored with jaggery or palm sugar for a touch of sweetness. Rich in fiber, calcium, and iron, this nourishing porridge not only fuels the body but also connects its consumers to the rich culinary heritage of Goa. 

Mangane: It is a beloved dessert in Goan Saraswat cuisine, cherished for its rich and comforting flavors. Made from simple yet wholesome ingredients like freshly grated coconut, jaggery, and fragrant cardamom, Madgane encapsulates the essence of traditional Goan sweets. The process of simmering grated coconut in water, infusing it with the sweetness of jaggery, and adding a touch of cardamom creates a creamy and aromatic pudding that delights the senses. Whether served warm or chilled, Madgane is a delightful treat enjoyed during festivals, family gatherings, or as a comforting dessert after a hearty meal. Adding dry fruits such as cashews makes this dish even better. 

Goan khole: A beloved treat in Goan cuisine, these sweet rice cones hold a cherished spot in the culinary traditions of the region. They are also known in some places as dhonne or pudde. They present a unique twist on the classic patoleos, crafted from a blend of rice batter and a sweet filling of coconut and jaggery. Wrapped skillfully in jackfruit leaves, they are a common sight during festivals and celebrations, prepared with care by both Goan Catholics and Hindus. The dough is meticulously shaped into cones or intricate patterns, then steamed to perfection, yielding a snack that boasts a delightful contrast of textures—crisp on the exterior and tender within. 

Sharing his concern about the losing the traditional snacks, Oliver says, “There is a upward trend of cafes these days, that follow a more European format with capuccinos and café lattes served along with Eggs Benedict, quiches and fancy patisserie. The number of traditional Goan cafes is more or less static. There is less awareness about Goan cafes and its snacks. Instagram is mostly about the fancy European-style cafes and the small Goan cafés don’t get their due. Also, we have fewer Goan cafes serving a range of traditional snacks that goes beyond our bhaji and mirchi. We certainly need more traditional cafes.” 


Idhar Udhar