There is probably nothing better than the sights and smells of the local markets to experience the character of a place! When you’re done with the sun, sand and surf on your Goan holiday, try exploring the busy MMC (Madgaon Municipal Council) market in South Goa. It’s a must visit if you are interested in sampling local produce. And who knows what a jaunt down the narrow, buzzing alleys of the market is likely to fill up your shopping basket with!
Red Hot Chilli Peppers: The distinct aroma of dried red chillies follows you around persistently through the market – there can never be a dull moment! Did you know that it was the Portugese explorers who first introduced Goa (and India) to chilli peppers? Since then, the spice has become an integral part of cuisine all over the country. And at the MMC market, you must pick up your packet of the wonderful Goan vindaloo paste, a radioactively hot blend of red chillies and other spices.
Moves like Jagger(y): Have a sweet tooth? Then you must sample Coconut Palm Jaggery! Made from coconut palm juice, it is dark brown in colour. Although sweet, it is high on natural salts and minerals – hereby scoring brownie points among the health conscious.
Magic Masala: Even if you’ve spent only a day in Goa, chances are that you’ve sampled a Xacuti dish. Pronounced as ‘shakuti’, the masala (fine ground powder) is a heady concoction of poppy seeds, grated coconut and chillies. Pick up a packet of homemade Xacuti masala and take a slice of Goan heaven back with you, to prep your own chicken, mutton, pork or fish Xacuti when the mind drifts back to the sunshine state.
Pigtales: At one end of the market, you will find a cluster of Goan women selling an assortment of chouricos – long strings of pork sausages made with vinegar and spices – hanging from all nooks, beams and corners of their stalls. Bursting with flavors, chouricos owe their popularity to the Portugese influence on the Goan catholic palate. But yes, the Goan chourico sausages are not to be had raw! Sausage pulao is a popular rice and chourico sausage based dish here and you can sample it (along with perhaps a glass of chilled beer!) at the legendary Longuinhos restaurant nearby. Oh yum!
Pick(le) me up: The local prawn and mackerel pickles are absolutely slurrp-y! If you have a taste for sea food, choose between the mackerel para (made from dried fish) or the prawn molho (made from white prawns). Then again, why choose? Go for them both!
Is it a bird? Is it a fish? No, it is Bombay Duck! Sukha Bombil (dried Bombay Duck) is yet another delicacy; if you do not mind the strong smell. And yes, it is a fish, not a duck! There is an interesting story around about how the fish got its peculiar name. During the British Raj, the fish was transported on a train called the Bombay Daak. Daak is the Hindi word for ‘mail’. The rather catchy name stuck on and eventually the fish came to be ubiquitously known as Bombay Duck. That does not take away anything from its taste though! Sukha Bombil with rice and curry is soul food indeed!
Get inspired by our Goa travel guide.