Goa is synonymous with beaches, parties, luxuries and entertainment. But to the discerning traveller, there is much to be discovered about the goan culture and heritage, even in the midst of all the merry-making.
Will you be heading to Goa for the Carnival this year? It begins on Saturday the 13th of February and ends on Tuesday the 16th of February. That Tuesday is called Shrove Tuesday. It is the last day of the Carnival and marks the end of the festivities as the period of lent starts from the next day.
Shrove Tuesday is also called ‘Fat Tuesday’ and ‘Pancake Tuesday’. The reason behind these interesting names is that it was the last day for Christians to use up their supply of butter, milk and eggs. This had to be done before lenten restrictions began and these perishable ingredients could not be consumed. What better way to combine these ingredients than into delicious pancakes. This is how it is done in Goa
1. Alle Belle
While many parts of the world make fluffy thick pancakes and top it with honey, maple syrup, cream or fruit, in Goa the pancakes are thin, crêpe-like and stuffed with a sweet filling. Made of flour, eggs and milk, they are very easy to make. They are really quite irresistible, the smooth, thin and air-light crêpe enfolds a rustic mixture of grated coconut and dark palm jaggery.
Traditionally Alle Belles are white but in recent times people have started adding colour to the batter. Refined flour is sometimes substituted with rice or oats flour and palm jaggery substituted with sugarcane jaggery. Although the original recipe has eggs in it, vegetarians can swap them with cornflour and enjoy the tasty treat. Modern versions also include dried fruit and nuts and no one has been complaining!
Alle Belle may be a hot favourite for Pancake Tuesday but they are also eaten in many Goan homes throughout the year. Nobody eats just one as they are a well-loved treat that can be consumed for breakfast, teatime or dessert.
Another type of pancake made in Goan households is the much loved Filoz or a banana pancake. This is not your regular restaurant crêpe stuffed with sliced bananas. The recipes for a perfect Filoz have been handed down the generations and are best made by experienced grandmothers. This pancake is plain not stuffed but contains all the delicious ingredients for a mouth-watering pancake.
Along with flour and eggs, banana, palm jaggery and coconut are mixed into a batter and fried as fluffy brown pancakes. Although Alle Belles can be found commercially, you would be hard-pressed to find Filoz anywhere outside a home. So make sure you have made some good Goan friends every time you visit Goa.
Although Bebinca is made throughout the year, making it on Shrove Tuesday is an excellent way to use up your surplus supplies before lent begins. Considered as the “Queen of Goan Desserts”, Bebinca is indeed a rich dessert filled with ghee, eggs, flour, sugar and coconut milk. It is made up of delicate layers that are traditionally baked in a clay pot over coconut husks.
Usually, this dessert has twelve to sixteen layers and takes as many hours to prepare as each layer is baked individually. Each layer can take up to an hour to bake to the perfect golden brown colour. The modern household, however, bakes it much quicker in an electric oven.
Are you on the lookout for a luxury villa for sale in Goa or are you just planning a quick get-a-way? Either way, let your trip include the amazing customs, traditions and food from the humble Goan home.