Goan culture is way more than beers and beaches. Its crafts, the wide variety of musical genres, and delectable food are its three significant pillars.The three-day Goa Festival that concluded yesterday was organised by Goenkarancho Ekvot, a cultural orgnisation that has been hosting it in the national capital since 2001, in association with the Department of Tourism and the Government of Goa. TMS visited the Goa Festival on the inaugural day and captured the essence of Goan culture.
The first thing that drew our attention were the handicrafts, ranging from pots, ceramic structures, and sea-shell accessories to handmade incense sticks and typical Goan mementos. Adjacent to it were two women showcasing a stunning collection of bedsheets and bed covers, neighbouring stalls of indoor plants and a range of abstract paintings.
“The artisans have especially come from Goa to participate in the festival,” says Suman Kurade, founder, Goenkarancho Ekvot. While we were busy scanning the artistic side of the Goa Festival, a sudden excitement in the crowd was sensed. The food stalls were now operational.
The mutton, fish and pork were the highlights and what everyone made a beeline for. We headed to the first stall run by a duo, Marietta (from Delhi) and Glorita (from Mumbai). Their menu had five dishes – chicken soup, mutton cutlets, mutton minced potato cutlets, prawn curry with drumsticks and the very traditional fish curry and rice, a staple for Goans.
“Even though I was born and brought up in Delhi, my roots are in Goa,” says Marietta, suggesting we try their delicious spread; her partner Glorita served us potato cutlets filled with mutton mince with a dollop of green chutney and salad. As far as the flavours are concerned, the women had hit the ball out of the park. Anita Panda, a visitor, agreed. Married and settled in Delhi, she says she is a Goa-fanatic, and loves the warmth of its people and the food. Her favourite dishes, fried fish and fish curry with rice, “can only be found in Goa, and now at the Goa Festival 2023”.
Other traditional Goan dishes that found a place at the festival included sanna, a steamed rice cake with savoury flavours; ross, a vegetarian Goan curry; pork pickle and chicken xacuti.A range of vegetarian and non-vegetarian snacks were also part of the spread: the batata bhaji, fish canopies, egg canopies, shami kebab, fried fish, fish cutlets, sausage pav, choris pav and the famous beef croquette, prepared with a secret ingredient – the Goan vinegar.
Kurade says: “Every year we have brought the caterers from Goa to set up food stalls at the Goa Festival. This year, our association members and Goans living in Delhi are taking charge of organising the event.” A mesmerising performance by Stanley Vaz,a well-known Goan musician in Delhi, was another highlight of the festival.