A seat at the table: Christmas in Goa

Christmas in Goa revolves around family traditions, such as making kulkuls, the sweet, shell-shaped sweets

Christmas in Goa revolves around family traditions, such as making kulkuls, the sweet, shell-shaped sweets   | Photo Credit: Shawn D’Souza

From dodol to kulkuls, what you need to eat and pack for the family back home

Laveena Dias, a homemaker from Caranzalem, remembers how, as a child, she used to love making kulkuls — the shell-like, golden sweet that is every Goan’s kid’s favourite Christmas sweet. Now, she ushers in the festive season by making them with her three daughters, aged three to seven. While shaping moulds are rampantly available in the market, Laveena prefers to employ her mother’s method: using newly-bought hair combs and shaping the sweets with the frets. “I know it’s easy to buy the readymade moulds, but having all three of them sitting by my side, their tiny hands shaping the edible creations — that’s what Christmas is all about — family, you know?”

When I moved to Goa from Pune 10 years ago to do my post-graduate studies at the Goa Medical College, I thought Christmas in the state would be a lavish and boisterous affair, with the revelry spilling on to the streets. But when my friend Cinderella Menezes took me to her home in Quepem to celebrate, I discovered that the holiday revolves around home and family.

At midnight mass, we stood outside the local village chapel (it was too small to accommodate all the parishioners inside) listening to the sermon in Konkani. Soon after, the festivities started, with beef croquettes and prawn rissois being shared over glasses of wine.

The morning is spent visiting neighbours and relatives, taking along traditional Christmas sweets — doce, dodol, bebinca, kulkul. But the festivities reach a zenith at the annual Christmas lunch, usually celebrated at the ancestral home or at the house of the oldest family member. It is usually a potluck affair, with each aunt bringing her speciality to the table.

Following the sorpotel

My friend Sonali Furtado, from Cuncolien, makes at least seven kilograms of pork sorpotel at least 20 days in advance, serving it with sannas (steamed rice cakes) and vindaloo at the family Christmas lunch, while her sister-in-law pitches in with her famed dodol. There is usually a turkey or a chicken roast, stuffed with Goan sausages or chicken mince.

Not a local?

While Christmas in Goa is mostly a family affair, some options if you are visiting and want to dive into the culinary landscape:

The Figueiredo Mansion in Loutolim (Phone: 8322777028) and the Palácio do Deão in Quepem (Phone: 9823175639) serve a traditional Goan Portuguese meal featuring dishes such as pork pie, stuffed squid, and fish curry. Call to pre-book. Cost depends on the number of diners.

Meraki Café & Kitchen takes orders for dishes like jumbo chicken, Manila duck and pastel de Santa Clara, the egg and almond-filled pastry.

You can also pre-order ready-to-roast turkeys (₹2,400 with stuffing) and pork chops (₹900 per kg) from the Christmas food section at Magsons or Delfinos HyMart.

The author is a Goa-based doctor and food blogger. She writes at

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 2:28:07 AM |

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