Top 10 foods to try in Goa

Explore one of India’s most culturally diverse cuisines on a beach break in Goa. We've picked our favourite eats including prawn balchão and pork vindaloo.

Goan beachfront and sea with huts in the background

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All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of February 2018 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out-of-date information in this guide please email us at

Goa is best known for the sparkling string of yellow sand beaches that fringes the state from top to toe. But beyond the lure of the Arabian sea coast, its trance parties and boutique beach shacks, Goa is a jewel for the gastronomic traveller, shaped by a history of Portuguese rule and a mix of religions. 

Fishing boat with nets on Goan beach

If you're planning to visit this beautiful Indian paradise, then check out our recommendations for the best regional food and drink to try during your stay...

1. Pork vindaloo

Derived from the Portuguese words for garlic (alho) and wine (vinho), combined in a marinade, this spicy Goan curry originated from a Portuguese sailor’s dish made with – yes, that's right – pork, garlic and wine. Goan cooks substituted palm vinegar for red wine and added chilli peppers and spices.

2. Crab xec xec  

Crab Xec Xec curry in a bowl

This thick roasted curry is made with grated coconut and strong spices such as cloves and tamarind. It's the ultimate dish for crustacean lovers, served with rice or bread.

3. Prawn balchão

Served as an accompaniment to a rice dish, or spread on toast, this is a spice-infused prawn pickle comprised of a fiery tomato and chilli sauce, made with caramelised onions and coconut toddy vinegar.

4. Sanna

Also known as idli in India, sanna are spongy steamed rice cakes. The plain version is often eaten with Goan pork sorpotel curry, and a sweet version called godachi sanna is made with jaggery – unrefined sugar made from cane or palm.

5. Goan red rice

A bowl of rice next to a bowl of red curry

Also called ukda rice, this is popular in gourmet circles in India. An unpolished thick-grained rice with a reddish-brown colour and nutty flavour, its firm texture makes it excellent for soaking up coconut curries.

6. Chouris pão 

A tasty Goan sausage bread, made with Portuguese chouriço, a spiced pork sausage.

7. Poee

Of all the Portuguese-inspired breads in Goa, poee (or poi) is probably the most famous. The first Goan pão (bread) was made using local toddy as a source of natural yeast, giving it an original character. Today, most bakers make it using commercial yeast, which yields the same fluffy interior – perfect for mopping up curries.

8. Kingfish

Two fillets of 'rawa' fish with side salad

Known as vison or visvan, kingfish is a delicacy in Goa. A popular preparation is kingfish rawa fry: fillets are lightly coated in semolina and fried to form a crispy exterior and succulent interior. It’s also used in surmai (kingfish) curry, which contains grated coconut.

9. Feni

A spirit produced exclusively in Goa. Cashew feni, made from the first extract of the cashew, is courtesy of the Portuguese, who first brought cashews to the Indian subcontinent. Coconut feni, distilled from fermented toddy from the coconut palm, is more popular in South Goa.

10. Bebinca 

A multilayered coconut cake truly unique to Goa. Although it requires few ingredients, the dish is tedious to make. Legend has it that the sweet was invented by Bibiona, a nun at the Convent of Santa Monica in Old Goa.

3 more travel tips

1. Drink kokum

Red kokum juice in a plastic cup with straw

Kokum, a plant in the mangosteen family is found in the coastal areas of western India. Its ruby-coloured fruits are juiced as well as dried, and used to sour fish and prawn curries in Goan cuisine. Rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, kokum juice is a refreshing drink to beat the heat. Kokum solkadhi, also known as kokum kadhi, is a spicy-tangy-sweet beverage made with coconut milk, spices and liquid extracted from kokum peel. Good for digestion, it’s served at the end of meals.

2. Visit the markets

A group of Goan ladies selling fruit in front of a yellow building

Goa’s bustling markets are bursting with everything from trinkets to food. Mapusa Market, an authentic local bazaar, is a vibrant spot that draws vendors from across Goa. Shoppers haggle for the best prices on produce as well as clothing, antiques, souvenirs and textiles. Others markets worth visiting include the Anjuna Flea Market and Calangute Market Square.

3. Talk to the locals

Goans are friendly and happy to share their thoughts on local cuisine, their Portuguese past, and the ever-evolving dining scene.

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You can also find lots more foodie travel tips at our travel hub.

Beach huts and sunloungers on a beach, with palm tress in background

Have you ever visited Goa? Do you have any tips? Leave a comment below...

Comments, questions and tips

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John Pagni's picture
John Pagni
26th Feb, 2018
I am afraid the previous observations are correct. I have been there twice & certainly the kingfish l ate was big enough, whole, to feed me & several cats hanging around. Pleasant-looking succulent white flesh wrapped in dark skin. Goan curry is somewhere between vindaloo & madras, very good with seafood as Rick Stein on his TV show demonstrated. Lastly, no story about Goa can ignore its rum nor its spices, markets & other culinary + beverage delights - home of Kingfisher, Cannon 10000 beer, multiple flavours combined. Sorry, better researching next time, try more time with the people than on the beach, discos, dance events, etc! ATB John Pagni
radharao gracias's picture
radharao gracias
26th Feb, 2018
I belong to the category of Goans who look up to the BBC as the epitome of correct information. But your aforesaid item on Goan food has left me wondering whether it is the same old BBC I grew up with. Let me point out that Vindaloo is a North Indian dish. The Goan dish is called Vindalho. And Goans do not like to be confused with North Indians, just as the Scots do not like to be confused with the English. The purported King fish pictured is most certainly mackerel. King fish is much larger weighing anything from five to 25 kilos. Mackrel will not usually weigh more than half a kg.
Frank Karau's picture
Frank Karau
26th Feb, 2018
I was in Goa back in 1981. Beautiful beaches and tourism there was in it's infancy. At Pedro's Restaurant there was a dish which appeared on the menu as "Beef with Grief Steak". It caught my attention and always gave me a chuckle when I read it and I eventually got the courage up and tried it. It lived up to it's name.
Green Rose
25th Feb, 2018
The fish in the photo looks like mackerel or some other small fry. ☺
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Green Rose
24th Feb, 2018
The sanna from Goa is made with coconut toddy and rice while the "idli" from south India is made with Black lentils and rice.