Portuguese Goa

18 May 2014

Recipe: Goan Prawn Masala

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Small cleaned prawns ½ cup

Coconut paste 2 cups or (1 cup coconut milk and 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut)

Coriander seeds 2 tsp

Tamarind powder ¼ tsp

Turmeric powder ¼ tsp

Dried red chilies 5

Onion 1

Oil 1 Tbs

Raw Mango (unripe mango) ½ diced or mango powder 2 tsp

  1. Clean the prawns
  2. Prepare a paste with the coconut, coriander, tamarind powder, half the onion, and the chilies
  3. Chop the other half of the onion and fry it in oil
  4. Add the mixture from above, prawns, and raw mango.
  5. Cook for 15 minutes over medium heat, adding water as needed to keep desired consistency.

Peas Pulao: Basmati rice and green peas cooked together

Basmati Rice 2 cups

Cooking Oil 1 Tbs

Sliced Onion ½ onion diced

Green Chili 2

Fresh Ginger 2 inch piece diced

Cumin: 1 tsp

Green Cardamom: 2-3

Brown Cardamom: 2-3

Clove: 2-3

Black Pepper Corn: 2-3

Bay Leaf 1

Fresh or frozen green peas (1 cup)

Salt: to taste

  1. Soak the basmati rice for at least ½ hour
  2. Heat cooking oil in a pan, then add green, brown cardamom, clove, peppercorn, and bay leaf and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add sliced onions and sauté.  Then add soaked basmati rice and cover it with water, cook, and then add green peas, and cook until the rice is done.

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Ice cream before the night train, finding our train coach, and eating the delicious train food.

My next purchases are going to be a “How to Learn Hindi Book” and a map of India.  Yesterday we had dinner with one of Parker’s friends from Oxford.  His name was Yogi and he was an incredible person all around to spend our evening with.  He studied at a business school in Oxford and now is working in Mumbai.  My most memorable experiences come during instances when we are interacting with the locals.  When I told him that I spoke Portuguese, it came up that much of the Hindi language has Portuguese roots.  For example, bread here is Pao, just as it is in Portuguese.  I have been meaning to get a book or kindle download book of how to learn Hindi, but have ben unsuccessful with the lack of bookstores that we pass and unreliable wifi.

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I am in love with southern India.  We are officially living the story of The Jungle Book.  Our train is twisting and turing through jungle.  Not forest, or dry land, but thick green jungle.  I have never seen something like this in my life.  I expect to see a tiger or hyena leap out at me from the distance.   As a young child you are always fascinated by so many things, well I am still a young child and everything still fascinates me.  I never dreamed that I would ever be in the heart of a tropical rain forest.  Even before the monsoon rains, everything is vibrantly green and lush.

I would love to take a tour out into the jungle and experience it outside of a train.  Bears, lions, elephants, monkeys, snakes, etc… Those are all things you only dream about seeing in person.  Now we have two whole weeks to spend in Southern Indian and it is going to be a blast.  It is going to be filled with beaches and tropical jungles, how much better can it get!

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We have gone through a series of different tunnels; crossed over giant bridges, and everywhere around me green, green jungle.  It is beautiful.  As I sit on the trains I reflect back to everything that I have experienced here in India.  It has been a roller coaster ride and I have learned as much about the world as I have learned about myself.  It is interesting how traveling in the moment is a very selfish thing, yet it usually has impactful long effects.  It is those who travel and experience much of the world early in their life, who have the vision to change it down the road.  This is not always the case, but more than not it seems to happen.  Although I wish the short term effects of my travels to be more meaningful, I have dreams for the future when the experiences that I have had will influence me to be someone who can make a change in this world.

Looking back, I am very glad that we choose to visit fewer places in India and stay longer in each.  The transportation systems in India are always an adventure.  It is here where you encounter thousands of people and experience train delays of up to 6 hours, without thinking twice about it.  Our train today is delayed 2 hours, a minute amount of time for Indian railways.

We just got passed by chicken lollipop vender… What is a chicken lollipop?

We arrived in Margoan around 4pm, just an hour after our scheduled arrival.  That is pretty good for an Indian train.  We were left standing at the train station in a very  beautiful, yet very rural tropical village.  The green jungle here is absolutely incredible, and it is true that many of the houses are thatch houses, just like you imagine rural village communities along the coast to look like.  I have never seen a place as beautiful as this and I am beginning to realize just how lucky I am to be here.

Indians are very interesting people.  They try so hard to convince you to talk “their taxi” or “their autorickshaw” but when you ask them how far it is to your destination they will say, “oh, it is just five minutes down the road”.   Come to find out that normally it is not just five minutes down the road, but several kilometers and many twist and turns later.  It doesn’t make any sense that they try so hard to get your business and then lie about how close the destination is.  They would get more tourists if they would be honest about exactly how far it was!  Today was one of those “Indian Goose Chase” days as we like to call them.  We decided to take the local bus to our beach hut on Palolem Beach, and spent a good hour being directed from the train station, through the village to the bus station on the other side of town.  Everyone was very friendly, and we even got served ice cream on the way, but it was another wild goose chase!

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The bus ride to the Southern Goan beach was absolutely stunning.  As a little girl I remember watching my favorite Disney movies over and over again without every getting tired of hearing the same lines over and over.  I loved the great classics such as The Little Mermaid, Pocahontas, Robin Hood, The Lion King, Cinderella, Tarzan, and the Jungle Book.  I never imagined that many of those stories would come to life, but come to find out many have.  One of those stories is coming to life right now, The Jungle Book.  Disney did such a great job of inspiring children from a young age to go out and explore the world.  I attribute much of my adventuresome nature to Disney, who first introduced me to wild tigers, the deep of the ocean, beautiful train rides, and beautiful mystic mountains.  Right now I am in the heart of a jungle where so many people were inspired to change the world—Disney included.  The Jungle Book’s pages are unfolding right before my eyes as our bus zips along tiny dirt roads, monkeys, beautiful palms, a rain-filled sky, and dense jungle that stretched for mile after mile past my view.  There are mountains, hills, jungle vines, mango, banana, coconut, and pineapple trees in every direction.  Spice farms dot the landscape, and cashew nuts are being harvested off of the ends of the beautiful pink fruits.  The only things missing are the animals, which are buried deep in the forest out of the path of the buses, trains, and scooters that serve as the transportation network in this part of the world.

We arrived at the beach after a beautiful 2 hour bus ride through the thick green Goan jungle.  I tried to snap pictures out the widow of the rickety old bus, but the dirt road, potholes, and speed of the engine, was too much for my little camera to combat.  I snapped a few photos, but none of them give any justice to what is laid out right before my eyes.  It is incredible.

Not only is Goa gorgeous for it’s greenery, but it has captured my heart in another more meaningful manner.  Goa was a Portuguese colony until 1961, which means everything within the state was and is directly influenced by the Portuguese.  All of  colonial houses, azulejus (Portuguese tiles), Portuguese restaurant names, and beautiful Portuguese words in the language, are representations of just how special this place is.  Being here in Goa with my tie to Portugal is a dream come true.  Before I came I had no idea just how strong of an influence the Portuguese had on India.  Being from the United States, a newly founded country, their has been no time for us to create legacies around the world such as the English, Portuguese, Spanish, and Danish.  I am lucky to now have a little Portuguese in my blood that gives me a taste of just how special that feeling of interconnectedness around the world can be.

Our beach hut sure is own of a kind.  We are sandwiched directly in between the beautiful golden sand and blue waters of the Arabian Sea and the dense tropical jungle in which no humans inhabit, only the most exotic animals you can imagine.  Yes, this is real life.  When I close my eyes I feel like I am in the Tarzan or Jungle Book movies, and when I open them and see the surrounding jungle, I still feel like I am.

We walked the beautiful coast, visited the local markets, and even ate some traditional Goan seafood on the coast.  Even the food here has a bit of Portuguese flare to it.  Simple seafood meals with lots of flavor are a staple here, and I absolutely love it.

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