Saturday, September 6, 2014

Goan Cuisine - Stories from Goa…Pernem

I walk into the home of Shubangi and Vaishali Gotge. The mother- in-law daughter-in-law duo love to spend time in their kitchen. They live in a simple ‘middle income’ Hindu Goan house where the kitchen of the past is still retained on the ground floor. Although the upper storied rooms with the main kitchen have undergone modernization, it was a novel experience to soak in the atmosphere of the past. There were many local equipments and implements that our grandmothers used strewn around about the place. Unfortunately the fast paced life (quick fix meals) and smaller rooms in living accommodations (bungalows or flats) do not permit them to be used in many kitchens today.
The Gotge’s have lived here for many years, and Ms Shubangi prepares the traditional dishes learned from her mother in law as is the custom. There is one preparation that the locals from Pernem (Pednekars) are proud of and that is the Shagoti. It is believed that the Shagoti’s origin was in this taluka. 


 Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas 

The women of the Ghotge household put in nineteen  ingredients into this preparation; the chilies include three varieties...the Pernem chili, bedgi chili and green chilies. She agrees that her preparation is spicy as the Pernem chilies impart a ‘spiciness’ to the preparation, but its mouth watering (in more ways than one) – absolutely ‘droolingly’ if such a word exists- good.
 The man of the house, Mr Manohar Ghotge has many interesting stories to tell. Fish was obtained for their daily repast in and around the taluka...Arambol, Mandrem and Morjim (the seaside places) to mention a few.  But many villages in Pernem (away from the sea), did have a way to catch their own fish. This taluka has many water bodies besides the sea, besides the river there are numerous ponds. ‘One way was with the use of a fishing line on which a huge tiger prawn was used as bait’ he informs us. While many of us might consider it a tedious time consuming process for the locals it was a way of life as it was a way used to feed their families. ‘The villagers sometimes strung a net attached to a floating tube across the water (from 4 pm in the evening till the wee hours of the morning), however although the catch would be bountiful it would  not specific to the fish required for the curry,’ he continues. 

Yes there were specific fish to be used for the Hooman. His knowledge keeps us spellbound.  He smiles and adds  ‘and then in small ponds they would use a ‘khand’ (basket) to catch sweet water  fish, but also there would be the adventurous type- who were able to catch the fish with a cloth ‘pagu’. 

These are people who genuinely know and love their fish.

Excerpts from the book – The Culinary Heritage of Goa

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