Goa

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Goa is a state in western India with coastlines stretching along the Arabian Sea. Its long history as a Portuguese colony prior to 1961 is evident in its preserved 17th-century churches and the area’s tropical spice plantations. Goa is also known for its beaches, ranging from popular stretches at Baga and Palolem to those in laid-back fishing villages such as Agonda.

Old Goa is home to the massive, Portuguese-style Se Cathedral and the baroque Basilica of Bom Jesus, which holds the remains of the state’s patron saint, Francis Xavier. In Panaji, the capital, the Latin Quarter’s winding streets contain galleries, cafes and colonial-era Portuguese-style homes. For shopping, visitors flock to Anjuna’s famous flea market and Mackie’s seasonal night bazaar. On the coast, the Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary provides a look at a native mangrove ecosystem. Goa’s interior features small villages, quiet retreats, waterfalls and jungle trails.

Oct–May, generally dry and sunny, is the main travel season, peaking Dec–Jan. Jun–Sep is the monsoon season, with torrential rains. Key events include the Goa Carnival (Feb/Mar, dates vary) with colorful street parades and a party atmosphere. Diwali (Oct/Nov, dates vary) is the Hindu festival of light with firecrackers and night processions. The long-running International Film Festival of India (Nov) features productions from around the world.

The Goan staple diet consists of rice and fish curry along with pickles and fried fish. This can be found on many of the beach shacks. The Goan cuisine is a blend of Portuguese and local flavours. Many dishes such as prawn balchao and Kingfish in Garlic have distinct Portuguese flavour. The cuisine is mostly seafood based, the staple foods are rice and fish. Kingfish (Vison or Visvan) is the most common delicacy, others include pomfret, shark, tuna and mackerel. Among the shellfish are crabs, prawns, tiger prawns, lobster, squid and mussels.

Dishes such as Sorpotel, Vindaloo and Xacuti (pronounced Cha’cuti), Cafreal will be familiar from Indian restaurant menus, and are originally Goan dishes. For those with a sweet-tooth, Bebinca is a must. A traditional goan pudding, Bebinca is made of flour, egg-yolk, and, coconut milk. It is certainly a great way to finish that sumptuous meal.

Most beaches have shacks that serve surprisingly delicious meals, specially sea-food and they’ll usually consult you to see how you like your food. Don’t miss the shack eating experience. You’ll want to go back and do it again. Most fancy hotels and restaurants serve terrible food, it is best to eat at local places, ask a taxi driver where these would be and don’t let him take you to any fancy restaurants as they receive commission.

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