What is the Goan Saraswat Brahmin cuisine that chef Vikas Khanna loves


The diversity in food that India offers is unmatched. The variety within regions is widespread too. That makes it challenging to map cuisines from each region in the country but that’s where the beauty lies, feels chef Vikas Khanna. One of his favourite Indian cuisines is the Saraswat Brahmin cuisine, popular in places like Goa, which he feels is still underrepresented.

“I love Goan Saraswat cooking. I think Saraswat Brahman cuisine is one of the most elegant and sophisticated cuisines. But still so underrepresented. Because their food is limited to their homes. Take it to the world and sell it. With that, you are selling the experience of who you are. It is gold in the hand. The way they do the souring is brilliant,” shared Khanna, in a freewheeling chat on Ranveer Allahbadia’s podcast.

What is the cuisine all about?

The Saraswat Gaud cuisine is a traditional culinary style of the Saraswat Brahmin community in Goa, India. This cuisine is known for its rich and diverse flavours, emphasising the use of local ingredients, spices, and coconut. “The Saraswat Gaud community, which is a subset of the larger Saraswat Brahmin community, has a unique culinary heritage that reflects the cultural and historical influences of the region. These were the original inhabitants of Goa and are very much part of the cultural fabric,” said Sandeep Pande, director of culinary at St. Regis Goa.

Their food is mainly vegetarian but there are also pescetarians (those who eat fish) amongst them. The Konkani Saraswat Brahmins have fish in their diet that they consider to be fruits from the sea. No meal is ever complete without a kokum kadhi. Coconut-based gravies are one of the main ingredients in their food, said Clyde Jude Comello, regional chef, Sly Granny.

“The food is very popular as it has become synonymous with Goan food. All menus in Goa have some of the dishes that are of the cuisine and people know or have heard about it. For first-timers in Goan cuisine, if spice is not an issue this is the cuisine to try,” said Comello.

Festive offer

While Goan food is currently more popular as a subset of Portuguese cuisine, it’s the Saraswat cuisine that is culturally more predominant in the Hindu community, Pande described.

Gaud Saraswat Brahmin Cuisine A glimpse of Gaud Saraswat Brahmin Cuisine (representative image) (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Traditional Cooking Techniques

Only the freshest and purest ingredients are used: fish, breadfruit or raw mango, said Gaurav Herwadkar, executive sous chef, Conrad Pune.

Pande said that Saraswat Gaud cuisine often involves traditional cooking techniques such as roasting, grinding, and slow cooking to enhance the flavours of the dishes. “Most of the dishes are cooked and served in terracotta or coconut pots in which these are prepared,” he shared.

Influence of Saraswat Brahmin dietary practices

The Saraswat Gaud community follows dietary practices that are rooted in their cultural and religious beliefs, including the avoidance of certain pungent vegetables and specific cooking methods. “The cuisine is gaining popularity because the community is on a resurgence as locals re-discover their roots. There is also a growing influence towards Satvic food and away from Portuguese heritage. This is also creating a newfound interest in the Gaud cuisine,” Pande explained.

Some key components of the Saraswat Gaud cuisine

Some of the dishes made in the cuisine are according to the season.

As monsoon season starts, seasonal fruit like Neerphanas (Breadfruit) starts being available and that is the time when Goan Saraswats, make shallow fried fritters of the fruit called (Kaapi),” said Herwadkar.

But if fresh fish is unavailable, they don’t give up eating fish. Instead, dried fish substitutes for fresh fish like Sukka Baangda (Dried Mackeral) are used, according to Herwadkar.

Solkadhi in the cuisine is the most revered drink. “Not only it is an excellent accompaniment to rice or fish curry or any vegetarian meal but its primary objective is – it aids in digestion,” said Herwadkar.

Here’s a list from Pande explaining each of the components

Coconut and Kokum

Coconut is a staple ingredient in Saraswat Gaud cuisine, and various forms of coconut are used, including grated coconut, coconut milk, and coconut oil. Kokum, a dark purple fruit, is often used for its tangy flavour and natural colouring.

Coconut is a staple ingredient in Saraswat Gaud cuisine Coconut is a staple ingredient in Saraswat Gaud cuisine (Source: Getty Images/Thinkstock)


This is not at all unusual for a primary Satvic cuisine, given Goa’s coastal location, seafood plays a significant role in Saraswat Gaud cuisine. Surprisingly fish, prawns, crabs, and other seafood are commonly featured in various dishes, mentioned Pande.


Rice is a primary component of the Saraswat Gaud diet and is often served with different accompaniments. Various rice-based dishes like ukde tandul (parboiled rice) and a popular take on gruel or congee are popular.


The cuisine makes extensive use of spices such as mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and red chilies. The spices contribute to the bold and flavourful nature of the dishes, Pande added.

Vegetarian Specialties

Saraswat Gaud cuisine includes a variety of vegetarian dishes, showcasing locally available vegetables and pulses. Dishes like alsande tonak (black-eyed peas curry) and various types of bhaji (vegetable stir-fries) are common. Certain gourds, summer vegetables like tendli and greens that are native are extensively used, said Pande.

Specialty Dishes

Some signature dishes include “Kismur,” a dry salad made with dried fish, coconut, and spices, and “Hooman” or fish curry, which is often flavoured with kokum are very popular.

Pickle and Chutneys

Pickles and chutneys are integral to Saraswat Gaud’s meals. Mango pickles, hog plum pickles, and various chutneys complement the main courses.


Traditional sweets like patoli (steamed rice dumplings with coconut and jaggery), mangane (prawn-shaped sweet dumplings), and kheer are enjoyed during festivals and special occasions.

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