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Few takers for Goan cuisine

The exotic dishes of the sun 'n' sand tourist paradise is facing threat from the mushrooming multi-cuisine restaurants.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, Panaji
UPDATED ON JUL 11, 2007 07:02 PM IST

Goan food is as famous as the beaches of the tourist paradise and its love for music and sports. But the unique cuisine of India's smallest state might lose its authentic flavour as the growing tourism and hospitality sector here reshapes it.

Since the mid-1980s, Goa has evolved from a laidback state with magnificent beaches to a major tourist destination. This has led to the sprouting of new multi-cuisine restaurants to cater to the varied tastes of tourists.

Anjali Rao, chairperson of non-profit organisation Indology-Goa, said: "The growth of tourism and hospitality industry has taken heavy toll on Goan cuisine, which is becoming endangered."

She added that hotels serving Goan cuisine were forced to provide junk food because of its growing demand. As a result, traditional food could get "limited to the recipe books".

About Goan food

Rice, fish and coconut are the basic components of the typical Goan food platter.

The Goans find truly world-class prawns, lobsters, crabs, and jumbo pomfrets along the coastline.

A variety of soups, salads, pickles, curries, and fries are made from them.

Kokum, a sour, deep red coloured fruit gives Goan cuisines a sharp and sour flavour.

The famous red Goan chilies are also a must for most dishes, as is tamarind.

Goans make their own version of vinegar from toddy (an alcoholic beverage).

An essential ingredient in Goan cooking is coconut milk made by grating the white flesh of a coconut and soaking it in a cup of warm water.

"These days it is difficult to find a authentic Goan cuisine restaurant. These restaurants are on the verge of closure because they are unable to face the competition due to the onslaught of fast-food culture," Rao told IANS.

Indology-Goa and the Pune-based voluntary group OneAsia will jointly organise a global cuisine conference here later this year, themed "United We Eat".

The event will focus on the challenges facing traditional Goan cuisine and the spurt of the junk food culture.

It aims to examine the evolution, benefits and state of research on traditional Asian diet as well as the potential and problems associated with its survival.

This conference, to be held during September 2-5, will focus on traditional cuisines, their relevance and integration with the modern fast-paced lifestyles and food styles.

"The idea is to focus on reviving our traditional food habits keeping in pace with the modern times.

If we are healthy and strong, then only we will be able to cope up with the pressures emerging from a hectic life cycle," said Rao.

Goan culinary experts will be presenting special lectures and demonstrations on various challenging aspects pertaining to the local cuisine and revival of the local legacy at the meet.

Some 25 cuisine experts-including Chef Fernando Da Costa (who runs the popular South Goa eatery Nostalgia) Rony and Suzette Martins (of the traditional food outlet Mum's Kitchen on the outskirts of Panaji), Goa-based food critic Tara Narayan Patel and others will participate in the conference.

Television show host, chef, author of best selling cookbooks, restaurant consultant and winner of several culinary awards, Sanjeev Kapoor will inaugurate the meet.

Goans, both Hindus and Christians, have long based their diet on rice, seafood and coconut-based gravies. In the past, irrespective of caste and creed, rice used to be consumed thrice daily, including a late morning break of 'kanji' or 'pez' (rice gruel) with salted fish, vegetables, pickles and chutney.

Goan food has been much appreciated and is the subject of a wide range of cookbooks.

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