The meteorology department has declared that the rains in Goa are likely to start between June 12 and 15 – that’s exactly a month from now. In the run-up to the monsoon season, Goan households are preparing for the rainy season in a number of ways. Rainproofing the roof, covering the balconies, but most importantly, stocking the pantry or as we say in Konkani, purument. It’s customary in Goa to stock up on all manner of goodies to tide the household over during the monsoon, especially since daily grocery shopping can be challenging. In fact, the Purumentachem Fest is an annual celebration of just that. It’s not uncommon to see the Goan kitchen stocked with dried meats, hanging onions, and jars of reachado. With just 30 days to go before the rains begin, here are the 5 best monsoon foods to relish for the next few months.
A stroll through the Friday market in Mapusa over the next few weeks will introduce you to the strong aroma of dried fish. A monsoon delicacy, Goa thrives on various types of dried fish during the rainy season. The most popular are the dried mackerels, bombils (Bombay Duck), and, sungta (shrimp). These dried fish are used to make different dishes and accompaniments. A fine example of dried fish used in curry, is Sukya Bangdyache Amsol or Dried Mackeral Curry, a simple yet delicious dish made with dried mackerel, spices, and tamarind. Served with boiled rice, a great accompaniment is kishmoor, a side dish made using dry shrimps and coconut.
If there’s one thing Goa is known for, especially during the monsoon season, it’s pickle. Thanks to our fine skills in producing palm vinegar, Goan pickles are relished the world over – especially our meat pickles. If you’ve never eaten a fish/meat pickle, you’re definitely missing out. One of the most popular fish pickles is para. Para is a delightful blend on vinegar, chilli, turmeric, garlic, and most importantly, dried whole mackerels. The fish is cured through the year in earthen pots and brought out during the monsoon as an accompaniment to every lunch meal. Other non-meat pickles that are extremely popular are tendlim (gherkin) and brinjal. Dried Kingfish and vinegar is also used to make a very popular dish called Molho, while the dried shrimps are used to make Balcaho.
Choris – Pork sausages
Goan Pork Sausages or choris are a favourite all year round, but they become a monsoon food staple especially since they can be kept unrefrigerated for a long time, and are extremely versatile. Goan sausages are handmade throughout the year, combining pork with dried red chilli and spices, and of course, vinegar. Once cured, choris can be stored and used to make all kinds of dishes. Throw it in a pan with onions and potatoes to make a quick sausage fry accompanied by some fresh poi, and you have yourself the perfect monsoon snack. Alternatively, you can add it to spiced rice to make a sausage pulao, or toss a few whole sausages into an otherwise mundane daal curry, to make a delicious Goan choris daal.
Chao and Pakoras
Every Goan’s favourite rainy time snack! When the first rains hit and the smell of wet red mud fills the air, there’s a sudden craving in every Goan for chao and pakora. It truly is the ultimate monsoon snack. During the rainy season, you’ll find vendors on street corners across Goa dishing out plates of fresh and hot mirchi (green chilli) pakoras, kappas (potatoes), and onion pakoras. The onion, chilli, or potato is dipped in a batter of besan (gram flour) and deep fried till it’s golden brown. This is served with a piping hot glass of boiled milk tea – truly a marriage made in heaven! Though pakoras and chao are available all year round and are actually a very popular snack, it takes on a whole other aura during the monsoon season.
Patoleo is the only sweet on the list, but is definitely a worthy mention, especially since Patoleo is the very definition of monsoon food. Pronounced ‘pathayo’ this Goan delicacy is prepared on the feast of the Assumption of Mary which is on August 15. It marks the beginning of the harvest season and is made using fresh turmeric leaves that are available only during this time of the year. This is why trying to get patoleo any other time of the year is extremely difficult. The turmeric leaves are stuffed with a pudding made of coconut, rice and jaggery, and steamed. While eating, the leaves are peeled off before consumption. One great point to note is that patoleo is made using completely vegan ingredients – so you can indulge in this monsoon favourite guilt-free!
What are your favourite monsoon snacks? Do you have any special memories associated with any of these dishes? Let us know in the comments below.