When we first saw a picture of Bebinca cake from Goa, we thought it looked a little bit like Hungarian Dobos Torte. Look at all of those layers! Bebinca is a cake popular in the Western Indian region of Goa, and it is known by its 7+ distinctive layers. Bebinca is probably the most famous dessert in the region, and is even known by some as the “Queen” of Goan Desserts. Some of its fame also probably comes from its difficulty – it is as time-consuming as it is beautiful – each of the 7 layers is cooked individually and then stacked up. Despite this advanced structure, the ingredients for Bebinca are super simple: eggs, flour, coconut milk, ghee (clarified butter) and nutmeg. This dish is a product of Portuguese influence to Goa, which is definitely evident in the copious use of egg yolks – a Portuguese favorite. Here are a few recipes for Bebinca from Flavors of Mumbai and BBC Good Food.
Tag Archives: Goa
Diwali, the Hindu “festival of lights” is upon us, and that means a vast supply of excellent food. We talked a little bit about the Diwali snacks, known as Mithai, before. Mithai vary widely from region to region and it is near impossible to cover them all. This year we decided to dig a little deeper into regional specialties, like fov/poha from Goa, a rice-based dish (5 more recipes here), Ghughra, filled turnovers from Gujarat, and Susiyam, fried sweet chickpea fritters from Tamil Nadu. The recipe site Barwachi has an extensive list of regional Indian Diwali recipes, including many dishes we never have heard of before.
Feijoada, a meat and bean stew of Portuguese origin, is extremely popular in Brazil, which we experienced while we were there. Everyone has a recipe, and making feijoada turns into a weekend event/party on nearly every corner. However, Brazil is not the only place that feijoada has taken hold – it also enjoys some popularity Goa, India. Goa, a region in Western India, was once a Portuguese colony (until 1961, even), which explains the heavy Portuguese influence on the local cuisine. However, feijoada from Goa is a little different in that it may include pork (rather than the typical beef in Portuuese or Brazilian versions), or is vegetarian. Goan Food Recipes has a version with pork, and My Diverse Kitchen has a recipe for vegetarian Goan feijoada.
R. São João da Mata 41,
“Dois pessoas, por favor.” When Orlando, the 34-year owner of Zuari, one of Lisbon’s most acclaimed Goan restaurants, heard our request for a two-person lunch seating, he seemed confused. He looked around the completely empty restaurant, and an immediately frustrated look came over his face. “It’s all full!” We walked past empty table after empty table, as he directed us to a tiny little table in front of a door leading to the kitchen. Apparently the only available seating? Who else was there – ghosts? At noon on a Thursday?
No matter – we had seats, and we wanted to eat. Lisbon is probably one of the best locations for Goan food outside of the former Portuguese colony turned Indian state, but as with any establishment, we were worried that the owners had changed the dishes to conform to more sensitive, even muted, Portuguese tastes. Luckily, we were wrong. For starters, the menu was encouraging: entirely in Portuguese. Few tourists coming this way, apparently – far from the city center and the metro, that’s usually a good sign. Orlando patiently explained the menu to us, as we had never heard of “Sarapatel” before. He spoke quickly, and M caught words like carne (meat) and pedacos (pieces) of linga (tongue) and a quick statement that “tudo e bom” – it’s all very good. He then scurried away, finally explaining the reason he seemed so frazzled: a big party was going to start there in about twenty minutes.
In we put the order: a bottle of water, two sides of white rice. For a starter we went with the obligatory Apas, a type of bread unique to Goan cuisine ( €0,75). It has a texture similar to a very thin version of naan, and a similar flavor, yet somehow manages to remain thick and hearty. L tried to Chacuti de Galinha (€7,00), a type of chicken curry with coconut milk and “spices.” A few taste tests later, and we could detect mint, cumin, coriander, cardamom, and black pepper. A slight spicy kick with a fantastic flavor profile, and three pieces of chicken – the real stuff, still on the bone – was more than expected. M went with the Sarapatel (€7,00), a mix of diced and pulled pork and tongue, simmered in a spicy – very spicy – and flavorful sweet tomato-based sauce. The texture and taste reminded us of a very spicy version of Carolina barbecue pulled pork. Regular readers of the blog will know how we feel about that! Plus, the spice level was one of the few dishes ever to satisfy M’s Scoville scale requirement, and he didn’t even have to make a special request!
The only disappointment of the day was that Zuari was out of their famous mango ice cream, due to the party preparations. We would have liked to try it, but the unexpectedly complex flavors in our dishes, combined with the great price – €20,00 for the whole meal – made this easily our best meal in Lisbon thus far.