Spice Plantations and Old Portuguese Colonies

20 May 2014

Recipe: Goan Spice Garden

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Dal Fry (Lentil Curry):

Yellow Lentils: 1 cup

Tomato: 1 chopped

Coconut oil: 1 tsp

Cumin seeds: ½ tsp

Mustard seeds: ½ tsp

Turmeric powder: ½ tsp

Hing: 2 pinches

Coriander seeds: ½ tsp


  1. Cook the lentils well (20-30 minutes) and mesh it
  2. heat the oil in a non-stick deep frying pan and add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, hing, turmeric, and coriander seeds.
  3. Add chopped tomato and meshed dal (lentils)
  4. Cook for 10 minutes.  Add salt to taste.


Vegetable Kurma (Vegetable Curry)

Potatoes: 2

Tomato: 1

Medium sized cauliflower pieces: 2 cups

Chopped green beans: ½ cup

Garam Masala: 1 tsp

Turmeric powder: ¼ tsp

Coconut paste: ½ cup

Mustard seeds: 2 pinches

Salt: to taste

  1. Cut all the vegetables in to medium sized pieces
  2. Heat a tsp of oil in a non-stick deep frying pan
  3. Add mustard seeds, turmeric powder to the frying pan.  Put all the vegetables and 4 cups of water and boil.
  4. When it boils add coconut paste and Garam Masala
  5. And salt to taste.  Cook for 10 minutes.


Saffron Sweet Rice:

Basmati Rice: 2 cups

Butter: 2 Tbsp

Cashew pieces: ½ cup

raisens: 2 tbsp.

Cloves: 6

Roasted saffron: 10 threads

Sugar: ¼ cup


  1. Melt the butter in a non-stick deep frying pan.  Add cloves, rice, and fry together for 10 minutes.
  2. Add water water and cook it just like plain rice
  3. Add sugar, raisens, cashew pieces, and salt (as per taste)
  4. Stir it till the sugar disappears
  5. Cook it till it solidifies
  6. Add the roasted saffron threads to spoonful of hot milk and mix it well and add it to rice and stir it if necessary


Dry Cabbage Vegetable:

Finely chopped cabbage: 1 head

Sunflower/coconut oil: 1 tsp

Mustard seeds: 2-3 pinches

Turmeric powder: ¼ tsp

Hing: 2 pinches

Salt: to taste

Grated coconut: ½ cup

Green chilies: 1-2 (optional)


  1. Take oil in a deep frying pan and heat it.  When it is hot add mustard seeds, turmeric powder, hing, and chopped green chilies.
  2. Add finely shredded cabbage and fry it for 3-4 minutes
  3. Add sugar and sat as per taste.  Also add little water (1/4 cup) and cok it till water disappears
  4. Garnish the dish with grated coconut.

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Now that I am away from the coast I feel as if I can write about my experience just a few night on the coast of Goa.  It was the scariest experience I have had in all of my traveling thus far.  I never imagined that nature would give me the biggest scare during my traveling career.  I guess it is just something that we all overlook as we are traveling from place to place meeting new people each and everyday.


Monsoon season in India begins in June and carries out through August.  I was briefly aware of this before I came to India, thinking that May was so far away from that and underestimating the power of such a storm.  I have spent most of my life in Idaho and Utah, where the harshest Mother Nature gets is bitter snowfall and forest fires in the blistering summer heat.  Being so far from the ocean and fault lines, I have never experienced hurricanes, monsoons, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, or storms such as these.  Monday evening the 20th of May was my first encounter with just how powerful Mother Nature can be.  Since we arrived in Goa the power had been going out on and off due to Indian electrical wiring, light rains, and lightning flashes in the sky.  Light rain and scattered lightning flashes were seen Sunday evening when we arrived but it was nothing to think twice about.

Looking back now, I remember hearing the Indian people who were taking care of us in our beach hut say that it was expected to rain in the evening—but little did I know what that meant.  After I finished a FaceTime call with my mother, light rain drops and increasing humidity chased me inside. I fell asleep at 11pm in my banana leaf thatch beach hut right off of the coast of Goa.  The rest of the story seems more like a horror story than a fairy tale.  The next several hours of my life would be some of the longest I ever encountered and some of the scariest as well.  I didn’t realize what was happening until I awoke, startled by a deafening crack of thunder that blasted through the sky, rumbled the entire ground, and caused every hair on my body to stand straight up.  It was 1:05 am and a giant storm was sweeping in.  Holly, Rachel, and Parker were already awake.  I guess the electricity had gone out just minutes previous to the first loud blast of thunder, and our little hut had already jumped a handful of degrees in both temperature and humidity.  No one said a word.  We watched through our window light up and then go black over and over again due to the constant lightning flashes that filled the sky.  Every so often an extremely bright flash would occur and we would brace ourselves for the terrifying burst of thunder to rumble the sky directly above our heads.  It was horrifying, I felt like I was staring death right in the eyes.  The waves increased to 12 seconds, a lot longer than anything we were used to hearing and the rain pelted down with increasing intensity, leaking through our roof and pummeling the sides of the hut walls.


I have never felt so scared in my life that I couldn’t even muster up the courage to say a word.  Finally it came out, “I’m terrified”.  This was answered with the exact same replies.  There was nothing we could do; no way we could escape if something bad were to happen.  There was no electricity, no cell-phone service, and no transportation at this hour in India.  Even if it were the middle of the day, we would still be hard pressed to evacuate in enough time.  The only thing we could do was pray, and that is what we did.  Between deafening bursts of thunder, heavy tides, and pummeling rain, Parker sputtered out a prayer asking that that the storm would pass without harm and that we would be able to be comforted.  I have never wanted my faith to be so strong in my life.  I can’t say that it was a strong as I wanted it to be because their were moments when I doubted what was going to happen was what was going to be right.  I battled back and forth about whether I should feel calm or not.  I had faith that things would work out as they needed to, but whether that meant I live or not—I had no idea, and that is a terrifying feeling.  I had no back-up plan.  Where could I run or hide?  The best solution I could come up with is that I could attempt to cling on to a coconut tree if the wind, water, and waves became too big for our tiny hut to handle.  I am being serious, that was my plan, and I didn’t want to think about it.


I didn’t sleep and watched as the clock ticked slowly from 1 to 2 pm and the storm just came closer and closer.  More lightning, more rain, longer waves, more dogs barking, broken glass, and much louder thunder.  Every second felt like a century, and I was sweating beads of sweat.  Our AC was out but I didn’t care.  I was soaked in sweat and soon to be soaked in rain but my fear lied in the fact that I was stranded between the Goan jungle and the Arabian sea in the middle of an Indian Monsoon.  You will have no idea just how terrifying this is until you experience it, and I hope that you never have to.  From 2am until 4am my heart raced so fast, my breath became heavy, and my eyes stayed wide open.  I sang Child’s Prayer over and over in my head and told myself that having faith that whatever was supposed to happen would happen was the right thing to do at this moment.  I prayed for my heart and mind to be calm, but the constant thunder in the sky kept trying my faith that everything would be alright.


Around 4am I began to calm myself a bit, and so did the storm.  The prayer in my heart was constant and I felt a warm embrace around my sweat-soaked body, an embrace that I know came from my Father in Heaven ensuring me that everything would be alright.  I finally fell asleep around 4:30am, and when I awoke to the sunrise at 6am things had calmed tremendously.  Lightning could still be seen in the sky, and the low rumble of thunder could still be heard, but the tide was calm, the wind was calm, and the rain was a mere trickle.  Our bathroom wall was hanging by a single thread, soaked inside and out.  If I would of pushed with even a fraction of my strength, it would have fallen over without any effort.  The area around our hut was completely flooded, and palm branches were strewn out across the sand separating the different beach huts.  Bottles and chairs were everywhere, but no huts or boats had been blown away.  Holly and I walked down to the seashore to sea how high the tide had rose during the night and saw seashells deposited near the lip where the huts and forest were separated from the beach.  It had rose quite high, but not high enough to do any damage.


It was relaxing to be able to walk along the water line of the Arabian Sea after such a violent storm had passed by.  It was like walking through a completely cleansed earth.  Everything was still and quiet, as if nothing had occurred just a few hours before.  The following evening before we went to bed we had planned to leave Palolem beach by 7:30, but the Monsoon crushed that plan in a split second.  We wanted to explore the damage, and cure our fears of the harm the storm might have done.  Everything was fine.  Nothing had been harmed.  Our prayer had been answered, and I will forever remember the power that one prayer can have.


We left Palolem beach with a sigh of relief that we would no longer be staying so close to the ocean during a violent storm, when unexpectedly monsoon season was approaching much faster than we expected.


Yes we were tired, but we needed to go out and explore to get our minds off of the terrifying evening that had occurred just the night before.  We hired a taxi driver to take us into north Goa to visit the colonial Portuguese cities of Old Goa and Panjim.  The Portuguese ruled these two cities for hundreds of years until the recent 1960s when Goa became independent of the Portuguese.

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Cashew Tree, Fruit, and Nuts…

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Arrival at the Spice Farm in Ponda, Goa!


Coco beans…they made me want chocolate so bad!


Nutmeg Tree


Cardamom Spice


Peri-Peri, one of the hottest peppers in the world

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Cinnamon Bark



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Learning to climb the beetle nut trees


Vanilla plant!  Yes, it is that vine creeping up the side of the tree.





Black Pepper, another creeping plant…

We visited Sahakari Spice Farm in Curta, Ponda, Goa that grows acre after acre of organic spices.  The spice farm organizes tours for people wanting to better understand where the spices come from, learn about their medicinal properties, and about how to use them in Indian cuisine.

More on the Spice Gardens to come soon!

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