As a child who was subjected to over-cooked and watery spinach- with its strong irony taste vaguely reminiscent of bitter blood and in that state of damp socks- you can understand a prejudice. And, like other prejudice, it’s rather unjust.

Stir in to your vindaloo for a real boost of taste ©Timothy K Hamilton; Image Credit: Flickr
Spinach is a valuable vegetable which is in season for the whole year providing fresh flavour, vitamins and colour in a most neglected way. It is peculiar, I find, to note that Swiss Chard with its bright stems is becoming the vogue ingredient in such establishments desiring to be seen to be vogue. Seldom though does its even humbler cousin take centre stage which must be to our shame.

In this weather (i.e. the predicted forty hours of Siberian-esque snow) it would be sensible to make use of a vegetable which is still in the garden. One method and which will warm the body and soul must be to make a curry with it.

Goan Vindaloo
Dissect into twelfths two fair sized onions. Open a tin of chickpeas and wash in a sieve. In a large saucepan heat some butter until it froths. Butter is delicious, it gives the best flavour to fry with and a deeper, richer golden hue to the food unobtainable really with oil, and should be used for any of these recipes which require frying unless stated otherwise. Moreover the saturated animal fats increase serotonin production, so will make for happier as well as better fed.

As it does so, put in the onions and stir occasionally until they have lost their raw edge, and become generally translucent. At such point dollop in a large tablespoon of curry paste. There are many good brands available but I check on the label to see if sugar and salt are being deployed over necessarily to bulk out flavour.

Cook the paste out until the onions have taken on a orange glow, at such point put in the chickpeas and coat in the oils, turn the heat down low and pour in a glug of wine vinegar.

Sour and Hot is a combination well attested in Vindaloo, a real curry of Goa. The fumes will clear away any cold. Cover with water, stock or coconut milk (I find creamed coconut is a valuable store cupboard ingredient and a tablespoon would more than suffice in this dish), put the lid on loosely and let it simmer for fifteen minutes stirring occasionally to avoid it sticking.

It is done when the liquor is thicker and substantially reduced. Season with salt to taste. When this is achieved put in a very large handful of washed spinach and clamp the lid down allowing the vapour to wilt the leaves turn up the heat to full. This will be a matter of a minute. Stir in the wilted leaves and serve. Feasibly with rice, or an Indian bread, but the Chickpeas are starch enough for me.

Hopefully you might find here a new perspective on that poor, green thing and let it occasionally take centre-plate. For such little input from the cook, it returns so much in flavour and aesthetics. If you still find it has a bitter taste try adding a little lemon juice which can redeem many a kitchen flop. So let the frumpy spinach have a dance, it might shock you with its high kicks.

NiteIn-GOA-Anniversary-Dance_headerNite in Goa

Rum, Red Bull, and Feni take a back seat to this high octane event!

The G.O.A Toronto magically re-created a starry night in Goa at this extraordinary occasion. The only thing missing was the rolling surf of the ocean. From the moment you walked in and tasted the refreshing chilled coconut water right down to the serving of Goan sweets at the end, this night is going to be one talked about for a while.

The theme was not just about Goa but truly focused on being proud to be a Goan. There were vendors selling savoury sausages and pickles along with taste testing. The dinner buffet was sumptuous with delicacies like sorpotel, sannas, fish and mutton curry, followed by traditional sweet treats like neurios, bolinhas and bebinca. There was no holding back or skimping here as the association provided a great bang for your buck.

The evening was a roller coaster ride through the dazzling entertainment. Miss India-Canada (Manasvi Noel) imparted her journey and experience to the crowd of all ages. She regally encouraged the youth to step up and grab hold of what life has to offer. Her words of wisdom to the participating young ladies as they competed for the crown of Miss G.O.A was to be proud and confident. This was not a pageant judged just on looks alone but on contribution to the community and elevating Goan culture. The questions she asked was, “What are your thoughts on your Goan heritage” and “How would you promote Goan culture in the community”. Thought provoking questions indeed as we try and find ourselves and our true meaning. Congratulations to Tanya Aguiar who won the judges’ favour in winning the crown. Tanya won a free entry into the Miss India pageant and has a chance to enhance her development through this wonderful experience. We wish her well!

“The Goa Amigos” as usual charmed the crowd with their rendition of Konkani songs playing in the authentic Goan music space. Reaching a broader spectrum a young and upcoming group “Memory Lane” was also invited to share the space. They are a highly energetic group who had the people packed onto the dance floor and wanting more. Their versatility as they played to all genres has already gotten them noticed. I cannot wait to hear them again! Kudos also to the ever popular DJ Kaya who added to the dancing shoes on the floor because nobody wanted to leave.

The chocolate covering the strawberry for me was the stunning and hair raising performance by Conchita D’souza and Sharon Peres da Silva. I was awestruck and truly brought to tears by their angelic voices. I have never heard such hauntingly beautiful harmony. Flanked by their entourage of Kirit Mascarenhas on violin, Ryan and Gavin Rodrigues on guitars, and Jonathan Peres da Silva on bongos, there was pin drop silence as everyone was mesmerized. What made the performance even more exceptional is that they sang traditional Konkani songs. I’m sure there were a few shattered glasses and mirrors curtesy of their exquisite vocals.

I was impressed by the number of youth in attendance at this gala. Typically the younger folk are not drawn to customary and traditional goings on. But this is exactly what the association is trying to change as they focus on injecting the pride in being a Goan. Here is what the youth had to say about the night: “The event was amazing….the bands, food and entertainment were all great. We could not believe how much fun we had at the G.O.A event and we are now promoting it on FB and IG”.

No event would be complete without a cake cutting ceremony to acknowledge accomplishments and successes. The proud new president Selwyn Collaco, called upon past presidents of the G.O.A to join him center stage along with community leaders from various associations (CGCG, Manglorean association, Westend Seniors Club) and the hard working committee members. His message rang loud and clear to bring our Goan community together by working collectively to achieve success.

We all have a part to play in bringing about positive change and it’s through associations like the G.O.A that we can accomplish this. The “Nite in Goa” certainly brought this need into full view for me. And as I reflect on pageant questions, I’d like to pose the questions to you: “What are your thoughts on your Goan heritage” and “How would you promote Goan culture in the community”. I’d love to hear from you.

Doreen Fernandez