Living up to the Portuguese taste
Published on: February 4, 2013 – 09:25

By Michael Fisher | B&C
Ms Jacqueline Coutinho of Borda is a self-made success story who learned the secrets of her grandmother’s recipes from an early age of 9.

She is now a major supplier of authentic Portuguese dishes to five-star hotels, top class caterers, and has a catering order nearly everyday.
She had no idea at that time that the love for Portuguese cooking instilled by her mother and mother-in-law would lead to a life-long career.
“To begin with, my mother and father are great cooks of my grandmother’s recipes and Portuguese cuisine,” says the self-made chef. “But I owe my trade to my mother-in-law Maria do Ceu Coutinho, who is the best when it comes to Portuguese cuisine. So the reason for where I am today begins with her. Many a times, the late Mario Miranda would ask my ma-in-law to write a book, but never got down to it, because she could not explain the recipes and masalas which she would prepare.”
All the same Ms Coutinho was brought up surrounded by plenty of food from making masalas, jams and syrups. Cooking trials were an everyday affair at her home. At an early age of 11, she baked her first cake for her three-year-old brother’s birthday. “It was a topsy-turvy pink cake and the friends who came criticised the cake saying the circle is crooked, but I argued by saying it is the tastiest cake,” she mentions.
Not having to wonder how she was going to earn her living after the B.Ed course, instead of applying for a teacher’s job, she took up a job in a co-operative bank. But her attention was more towards cooking. “I began feeling depressed in this monotonous bank,” she adds.
With no professional certificate, being married to famous musician Ravi and with two grown up children, Ms Coutinho packed up her bank job in 1996 and started cooking her own home-made products, which are also sold at her retail shop Jacqueline Sweet Secrets in Borda.
She makes traditional Portuguese delicacies not heard of anymore at regular tables. Her very selective clientele are from Mapusa, Panaji, Vasco and Dubai. They include five-star hotels, well-known caterers and corporates. Some of her dishes are rissois de camarao, apa de camarao, empardinhas (meat pie), pasties de banana, pasties de santa clara, bolo sous rival, angel wings, coconut tarts and bebinca.
“I have five women helpers, and we work from 9 to 5 everyday. During the festive seasons, we cook and bake until the wee hours to create mouthwatering dishes,” she explains. Her rissois are the talk of the five- star guests. The ready to fry rissois are made with prawns, spinach, and mushrooms.
“Cooking for me is an art which I am passionate about. I am open to discussion and criticism, which helps in the long run. Actually, the secret of cooking is trying out a recipe as many times till it is perfected. My dream is to expand to all the cities of Goa and start frozen products such as curry, pork vindalo, salted tongue, sorportal and xacuti,” she says, while also habouring a dream of starting a dedicated Portuguese restaurant.

Cover Story


Goa, a land of sun and sand, is the Eden of party revellers, who never miss an opportunity to turn every occasion into an event that calls for partying! From a christening ceremony to a wedding reception, life in Goa is synonymous with parties. But the fact is Goa has much more to offer than the Carnival and parties it is credited with.
Let us rewind to the early seventies when the Bollywood depiction of Goa centred around an Uncle John or Michael and his tavern, with tipsy dancers serenading to songs that were virtual imitations of some of the lilting Goan folk tunes.
Free-flowing booze characterises social life in Goa. Probably it is a legacy of the Portuguese rule that defines life thus! In any case, the rot has been methodical, with the cascading effect of the over-dependence on alcohol rendering generations of Goans impotent. Probably it suited the designs of the colonial rulers, but suffice to say that the present generation, with various brands of liquor available at rates cheaper than water, finds itself in a quandary over the matter, with many a youngster quite easily falling prey to liquor addiction.
The seventies also saw foreigners with their own queer ideas of Nirvana as propounded by a host of jet-age Indian spiritual gurus wooing the westerners with mantras of sublime bliss. The sprouting of a new breed that were unwittingly initiated into a newer and decadent style of indulgence, that could in a lighter vein be called the Boom-Shankar culture, saw life being revolutionised in Goa.
Drugs, the scourge of the western world, made a surreptitious entry into the sub-continental market – not that it was a rare commodity out here. But the advent of the hippies however transformed the very concept of use – and abuse – of these psychedelic substances that promised one a rare glimpse of the heavens.
Disillusioned youth disenchanted with the rigours of living within the confines of an orderly social structure, rebelling against any and everything that even vaguely smelt of an authoritarian imposition in the family, sought solace in the dream sequence of escaping to a wonderland that spelt only, and only, peace, love and happiness. If a dazed stupor arising out of addicted doses of these hallucinating concoctions could be called happiness, there will never be a dearth of drug runners and drug addicts in the state.
Blame it on the blatant tourism that the state has come to identify itself with, Goa is today in the throes of a cultural ‘take-over’ that doesn’t bode well for the state. Yet the fact remains that the impact of alcoholism and substance abuse on the Goan society has been there for all to see. To put it simply, addiction to these vices is gaining ever growing momentum and is having an evidently deteriorating effect on the overall social existence of the citizens.
The state of Gujarat with its prohibition laws gave glimpses of a model state that aimed to arrest the malady. But would such enforced orders curb addiction? It is said that the more stringent the laws, the more devious are those planning to violate it! Apart from bootlegging, one really wonders what other illegal system is already in place to combat prohibition?
Ironically, the spirit and tobacco industries are apparently unaffected by the global financial upheavals down the years and continue to thrive in spite of stiff competition. The deluge of ad-campaigns promoting various brands of liquor makes one gasp in horror! Not only do they convey the message that drinking is manly but one goes so far as to question viewers whether “they have made it large in life”!
Diluting the tone to imply that these are promotionals for their brand of aerated water, liquor companies are getting away with what could very emphatically be termed as ‘suggestive advertising’. The large amount of money that they pour in by way of sponsorship for various sporting events and other galas makes one believe though that the companies in the bargain have ‘made it large’ in the business world.
Tobacco companies however proffer an apologetic footnote that their products are harmful for health on their wrapper covers. But does this deter people from getting addicted to cigarettes and other tobacco products? No matter how carcinogenic the contents, the fear of oral and lung cancer has hardly kept away people from blowing their lives away in smoke.
De-addiction help-centers in the state like ‘Alcohol-Anonymous’ have proven to be those focal points that has been relentlessly pursuing the cause of those hopelessly addicted to alcohol. Acute alcoholism as the term has come to imply, is a social malaise that has come to haunt the locals in spite of the best efforts to brush it off as compulsions of a lifestyle that has ‘westernization’ as a more pronounced factor.
But more than the elders, it is the proclivity shown by the younger generation to hit the bottle that has been a disturbing trend. Beginning as social drinkers at a very young age, the adolescent generation is more prone to addiction, and with telling effects as well. It is only when they exhibit symptoms of ‘problem drinkers’ that the severity of the issue actually sinks in.
The less said about the dependency on drugs the better! As one of the most favoured global tourist destinations, Goa has been catering to a vast range of ‘clientele’. With a tourist influx that is next to amazing, it is but natural that the state would be influenced by various customs and habits brought in by visitors from across the world. Usually it is the vice that is more readily imbibed by the locals! And so also with the drugs!
With various foreign cartels operating in the state with near impudence, controlling the menace of drugs has been a daunting task for the government. Moreover, with the expose of an unholy nexus existing between the police and drug mafia, the narcotic problem has taken a turn for the worst in the state. That the beaches have become a safe haven for peddling of the psychedelic substances is a global truth and the state for the moment appears to be relaxed in the comfort of that tag.
When the government’s attempt to combat negative effects of drug addiction and misuse in the society is itself weighed down by lethargy bordering on near disregard, one hardly sees any scope for mitigation through legislature which will lessen the harms of drugs abuse.
If theologians take their sacred books literally, addictions can be seen as vice-like grips that stem from works of the flesh. Succumbing to the pleasures of the flesh is a sin. Hence it directly means that addiction to anything is a sin! QED! Most of the people in Goa practise their respective religions very faithfully. Temples, churches, mosques and other places of worship could hence have separate cells dedicated solely to bring people out of the nefarious habit of falling victims to various addictions.
How successful the venture is once again depends on the sincerity of the counsellors and the willingness of the victims to quit the habit. “An addiction is a reoccurring compulsion that controls a person’s thoughts and actions, a stronghold that is nearly impossible to overcome.” The counsellor has to play on the victim’s ‘cannot overcome’ psyche and induce him to overcome the initial hesitation to conquer the habit.
Although the concept of counselling to overcome addiction will depend on the activism against these habit forming vices, I sincerely feel that counselling is the only way for people to give up their addictions. If religion and Holy books could be made a part of the therapy, so much the better, for man is easily motivated by religion and the word of God.
More than the inherent habits, it has been the insatiable enthusiasm for aping foreign mannerisms not in keeping with our culture and tradition which is bound to wreak havoc on the state. Rather than being mute spectators to the social devastation that is being brought upon the society, wouldn’t it be more appreciable if the Goans are warned of the catastrophic consequences?

7 Benefits of Cinnamon When and How Much to Take

Posted on: February 2nd, 2013 by Rakesh Sethi
Cinnamon is sweet, spicy and astringent and it has drying and heating affect on the body. Cinnamon is a mild herb so almost anyone can take it in small amounts with exceptions listed below. Benefits of cinnamon are in multiple areas, pain reducer, digestion, congestion, muscle relaxer, antibacterial, regulating blood-sugar, and sexual performance.

Benefits of Cinnamon:

Relieve Menstrual Cramps: Cinnamon is analgesic, muscle relaxant, and promotes blood flow. During menstruation, Cinnamon enhances blood flow to the uterus. As a result, your muscles relax and warm relaxing blood flow relieves the menstrual cramps.
Relieve Congestion: Cinnamon’s heating affect break down the heavy sluggish mucus into light and flowing. So you can expel it easily.
Promote Good Digestion: Cinnamon can be used in many recipes, especially in heavy difficult to digest recipes. It promotes digestion, helps you digest heavier foods, and digestion in general.
Prevent rheumatoid arthritis: Its anti-rheumatic action prevents rheumatoid arthritis.
Remove Bacteria: Cinnamon is has been known for its property for killing bacteria. Not sure about the food and bacteria in the food, safeguard your food against E. coli bacteria. Use cinnamon on your food to kill bacteria and avoid food poisoning, especially if you’re traveling to suspect places of having bacteria.
Maintain Healthy Blood-Sugar Level: The most interesting study of cinnamon today is to control blood sugar levels in diabetics. US Department of Agriculture discovered that cinnamon actually is an insulin booster. The increased insulin helps metabolize sugar. A small dose of 500 milligram of ground cinnamon with every meal may help to regulate blood sugar levels.
Enhance Male Sexual Performance: The aroma of cinnamon has also known to cause sexual stimulation, especially for men, both smelling and taking internally. Cinnamon enhances peripheral blood flow and that enhances the penile blood flow, which gives a stronger erection.

How Much to Take It?

The idea here is to include cinnamon as a supplement in your diet along with other herbs to promote health and prevent diseases. Use it in your recipes or take it in capsule form. You can take daily 200mg to 1000mg of ground cinnamon.

Caution: Do not take, if pregnant. If your body constitution is primarily ‘Pitta’, stick with the little amount. Most people however, particularly with Kapha and Vata body constitutions, can enjoy benefits of cinnamon without any side effects, if taken in proper amount.

Reduce or avoid the use of cinnamon in the summer season, especially if your body constitution is Pitta. Fall, winter, and spring are the best times to include Cinnamon in your diet. If you are dealing with some condition, you should see your physician and Ayurvedic practitioner.

Going gaga over Goan Sopa Grossa
Radhika D Shyam, Feb 2, 2013

The Goan cuisine is an exotic blend of eastern and western cuisines, writes Radhika D Shyam

Dining in Goa is a cultivated art. The Goan doesn’t balk at a new taste but is quite open to it and adapts it to suit the local palate. The appetizing blend of western cooking and Goan ingenuity, results in exotic and tantalizing preparations. Great pains are taken over the presentation and the garnishing, which make the spread not only gastronomically tempting but aesthetically delectable too.

In any region, there is a multitude of geographical factors that influence its general cuisine. In the beautiful 100km long coastline along the Arabian Sea called Goa, the most predominant factor is undoubtedly its history. The undeniable Portugese influence and intermingling of Arabian and native cultures have left their mark on its cuisine as on other aspects. Goa is unique in the sense that this mixture of East and West co-exists.
Goan cuisine is predominantly non-vegetarian, but there are some very popular vegetarian dishes. Beans, lentils and vegetables are usually grown in the rice fields of Goa after harvesting. Feijoada is made of dried black-eyed beans and a dish prepared with their favourite souring agent is the kokum curry. As for the main course, besides the most staple rice, rice bread is also eaten. Sannas are rice muffins and arrozo is a rice preparation made of basmati rice and other ingredients cooked in mussel or chicken stock and garnished with Goan sausages and olives. Pickles made of green Mangoes are most popular in Goa. A pickle called Korum is quickly made for daily use. Green Mango Chutney is another known spicy accompaniment. Coconut Pickled Fish Relish is a pickle / chutney made of pickled mackerel.

The people of Goa are besotted with seafood. For all practical purposes, ‘fish curry and rice’, is undoubtedly Goa’s staple diet. The typical Goan is a fish eater with his other non-vegetarian preferences being pork, chicken, beef, and mutton. The usual daily meal is fish curry and rice along with other various accompaniments. The evening meal usually consists of a meat dish with a salad or cooked vegetable. Feast days mean a convergence of relatives and friends and an excuse to feast on traditional food.
Soups have been an integral part of the Goan menu from many years. It originated with the serving of ‘Pez’, a rice gruel made of a red quality of rice called ‘Ukade’, served in almost all village homes at around eleven in the morning. This is usually accompanied by a piece of Mango pickle known as ‘Aamli’ in Konkani or dry fish roasted or fried in oil. With the added vegetables and bits of meat, chicken, beef or fish – it is a meal in itself. This version is called Sopa Grossa. Caldo is known as “the soup of feasts” and no wedding buffet spread or important celebration is complete without it.

Goan sweets have their origin both in Portugal and also the local Konkan region. The many-layered Bebinca is the most popular of them all. Each layer is baked before adding on the other; the traditional version has 16 layers! Cocada and Coconut Macaroons are coconut sweets. Dodol is a soft jaggery flavoured fudge. Neurios are basically prepared from flour and a sweet stuffing. Rose-a-coque is a flower like waffle that can be eaten alone or poured over with cream or honey. Empadhindas, Batica, Bolinhas, Fio de ovos and Dedos are other sweets worth mentioning.

The name ‘Goa’ itself conjures up, besides its expansive sun soaked beaches, a picture of feni and Goan cocktails. The popularity of feni, the native alcoholic drink of Goa is clearly seen by the fact that practically every third little house is a ‘Tavern’. In general, the two types of feni available are based on what they are made from. Coconut feni is made from toddy, the fermented sap of the coconut tree and cashew feni is the fermented juice of the cashew fruit. Feni cocktails are a must in every cocktail bar of hotels in Goa. They enhance one’s appetite for food, be it lunch, snacks, or dinner. Sangria, a refreshing drink, is an old recipe that dates back to the early 40’s. It was made to welcome homecoming relatives and guests. This magic still holds good.