Spanish chef Natalia tempts us with local delicacies from Goa (Just one of the many reasons to go to Goa today!)

Indulging indigenously in GOA

Goa is a land of many secrets, including its food. Spaniard Natalia Suarez, restaurant owner of Rare Republic and a nearly
decade-long resident of Goa tells us about her many revelations over the years. From the best xacuti to how reacheado inspires
new recipes at her home all the time

If you ever meet Natalia, you’ll fall in love with her personality as fast as you will with the food she promises you at her Siolim outpost, Rare Republic. But what’s even more intriguing is her profound appreciation for the fl avours, textures and old-soul kind of food found in Goa. She confesses love-at-fi rst-taste when it comes to these lesser-known Goan delicacies. Better still, she leaves behind all the crumbs to get you tempted for your next, imminent Goan culinary adventure.

Natalia fi rst moved to Goa in 2010 and instantly got hooked to its food scene. Back then it was predominant ly about traditional old soul Goan feasts jam packed with masalas infl uenced by the spices the Portuguese brought from Africa, Brazil and Portugal.

Not much has changed when it comes to the fl avourful masalas. And even today old-school delicacies shine bright in the kitchen, sometimes adjusted with minor nuances. But what has  changed is the beat, tempo and magnitude of things. Nine years ago there would be a seldom few hotspots to eat at. Today however, Goa is revered as a foodies destination, for both the chef and the tourist, riddled with many brilliant restaurants, bars, cafes and even local street side spots. Natalia plans to add her new food studio to that list very soon. But right now she spills the beans on all things yummy….

Natalia’s favourite local delicacies decoded
• Clams Xacuti featuring masala with star anise, cumin, green chillies and fresh coconut. Xacuti is a Goan masala with a unique blend of spices. This is also Natalia’s top dish forthe perfectly balanced, and combined ingredients which gives it its incredibly unique taste.

• Prawns Xeque Xeque featuring masala with tomatoes, chillies and coconut. You may not be able to pronounce xeque xeque, but Natalia ensures you will surely love it. This exotic dish goes well with another Goan speciality called Sannas— white fl uffy bread made of coconut, fi ely ground rice fl our mixed with toddy,  fermented and then steamed! Wash it all down with a well-aged porto wine!

• Fish Reacheado, a dish prepared by slicing a cross section of the fi sh and stuffi ng it with red hot tangy chilli masala called ‘reacheado’. Reacheado itself is made from red chillies, spices, ginger, garlic and ground with malt vinegar. The fi sh is then pan fried. Natalia got so inspired by reacheado, that she created her own version: a black ink idly with reacheado squids and a yellow bell peppers mousse. Is your mouth watering yet?

• Coconut puff pastry called Nevri. These sweet dumplings are made of fl our and stuffed with coconut, sugar, poppy seeds, cardamom and almonds. Natalia gives us her stamp of approval on this divine indulgence!

• Bolo Sans Rival—a Goan holiday cake that has no rivals—and its name says it all! This rich and delicate layered cake features butter cream, meringue, cashew nut and coconut sandwiched together in beautiful layers. You may have to go back a few generations to get any acknowledgement when you refer to this rectangular dessert. But the  search will be worth it!

Natalia’s favourite street eateries and the things to have
• Uncle Ji Bajis for fresh, home grown produce
• Baba Ji in Mapusa for the home made puff pastry
• Tedja for the fi sh curry and delicious clams
• Amanzio in Siolim fi sh market for the xacuti
• Hotel Sagar in Vagator for home made bhaji
• Just Cafe Royale Panjim for afternoon tea