THE STATE OF GOA

**************DEVACHEA NAVAN ANI GOEMCARANCHEA MANNANK******************* This blog is an attempt to delve into the traditions, heritage, culture, lore and ambience that spawned an enigma. A state of mind. And to perchance perform a perfunctory probe into the psyche of the Goemcar. ************************************************************************************************* GOEMCAR: Any person anywhere in the world - Goemcar rogtacho!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

MHAPXECHO BAZAAR

The Mapusa market has the best Goan spices and spirits

LESLEY A. ESTEVES


You don't just get Goa's famous feni and port wine here; you get the best home-distilled cashew and coconut feni and home-made currant, ginger and beetroot wine. You don't just get the best cashewnuts cheaper here than anywhere else in Goa; you get them in 10-kg tins at incredible wholesale rates. Here being Mapusa, home every Friday to Goa's biggest fresh produce bazaar.

Mapusa's very name means to fill (se) a measure (maap) in Konkani. People from all over the state come to the Friday bazaar to sell the most authentic ingredients that Goans use in their kitchens.

Deeper into the market is the treasure trove. Women bring thick coils of the highly spiced sausages from their homes.

The bazaar is said to date back almost five centuries. Mapusa grew around the temple of Kanakeshwar Baba, worshipped as Bodgeshwar or Bongini Baba. The Bodgeshwar Sansthan temple, just south of the market, continues to be thronged by devotees who, their prayers granted, return with traditional thanksgiving offerings of diyas, bananas and flowers. The Mapusa Friday bazaar began as a few stalls supplying these offerings to pilgrims visiting the temple. Equally revered by all Goans is the Milagres Saibini in the Church of St Jerome that lies adjacent to the municipal market and whose construction dates back to 1594. The Saibini, Mother Mary, is equally revered by Goan Hindus who believe her to be an incarnation of the mother goddess Santeri. Fridays entail both shopping and prayer at these two shrines.

The market sprawls beyond the Kadamba bus stand. Pick your way between the parked buses to Calangute and Panjim and the massive Volvos heading for Bombay, to enter. Walk to the right and turn left at the cows to reach the start of the fresh market. Your landmark is Simonia Bakery. Amidst the regular vegetables, look for the mounds of dried teflam berries, purple-black kokum petals and gigantic balls of tamarind used to sour Goan fish curries. Dark red amaranthus leaves go into tambdi (red) bhaji. If here in summer, you will find golden varieties of Asia's best mango, the Alphonso, and the local Goan Malkurad variety. There are sellers dedicated to sapota and jackfruit—get tender jackfruit for curry, ripe jackfruit just to eat and dried jackfruit, which makes a chewy treat. Here you may also spot that legendary Goan delicacy—the Moira banana, unusually large with a floury texture and a sweet perfume.

Beside the vegetable are the potters from Bicholim, from whom you can buy yourself a combo, the rooster-shaped water jar that is in every Goan kitchen. From here on the serious food bazaar begins. You will find carts stacked with fresh and ground spices—dagadfal, trifala, turmeric, cinnamon sticks thicker than your thumb. Mounds of sweet shakarpare and savoury kaddio-boddio to offer the gods. But walk deeper into the market to find the real treasure—the stalls manned by Goan women who bring home-made food from bread to sweets, pickle to curries. From them you can buy thick coils of Goa's famous sausage, made with heavily spiced pork and vinegar, and tinier versions called chouriso, strung up like edible rosaries. A few boiled and stuffed into fresh Goan poee bread is arguably the best breakfast in India.

One section of about eight stalls at the centre of the market is only for fresh bread. Here you will find the aforesaid poee, the flat Goan pao that is used to scoop up curries, stuffed with sausages, spread with chutney or simply eaten plain. Its subtle taste is second only to that of sanna, the famous rice cake fermented with toddy that complements the pork dish of sorpotel made with meat, fat and liver. You will find both sannas and sorpotel at the ladies in Mapusa Market.Ask them for toddy and home-made port wine, feni and urak. They offer precooked pork curries and the masalas for making them. Pick up rechead masala to stuff all manner of fish from pomfret to Bombay Duck. Pick up cafreal masala to marinate chicken. And pickle! Buy the chepnim and the miscut, made from the youngest mangoes; the tendlim, young gherkins in brine or masala; pickled pork and prawn balchaos; and Bombay Duck pickle. But the best pickle of all is the parra, spicy and made with dry salted mackerel.

The Mapusa market is also home to some of Goa's most famous bakeries, and the market is especially visited for their most un-Goan hot cross buns, sold along with more traditional confectioneries like pinagre, guava cheese, doce, dodol, rose-de-coque cookies and bebinca, the delectable layered cake made with a dozen eggs. Simonia Bakery, in fact, offers hot cross buns at all times.

Don't forget to buy the trademark bag which tells everyone you shopped at Mapusa. You will find whole stalls offering these striped and strong plastic bags which can comfortably carry 20 coconuts all the way back to Latembarcem on the bus.


COMMENT: Chonne zai? Tambde chonne zai? Baztanna fullon bazche bai. Viktanna gagro fullonc zai, ta ra la ra la loi.

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