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  • Shivani Kulkarni

Gowd Saraswat Brahmin Cuisine

(Digital Recipe Book)

The Gowd Saraswat Brahmins (GSB's) are the only Hindu Brahmin Community that consumes Fish. As the community originally has their roots in coastal India- Goa, Karwar (North Coastal Karnataka), and Sindhudurg (Konkan Maharashtra), seafood is naturally available and hence they consider seafood as a "vegetable from the sea". Fish intake for GSB's is more than twice a week and fish curry -rice-fried fish is their most favourite comfort food. Taking utmost advantage of the indigenous ingredients available in coastal areas like coconut and rice, these are liberally used in the delicacies of Saraswat Cuisine. The primary base of the dishes is a grind of freshly grated coconut. Saraswat Cuisine's flavour profile is a balance of Sour-Sweet-Spicy. They use very few spices in their dishes, hence, their cuisine is not extremely spicy.

The original roots of Saraswat Cuisine are from Goa. Then as the community started stretching their base to regions like Karwar (a small coastal town near Goa-Karnataka Border), Sawantwadi (Near Maharashtra-Goa Border), the only thing that changed in the cuisine were the names of the dishes and little difference in the preparation style. For instance, since Karwar is in Karnataka, coconut oil is the primary oil used whereas Goa/Konkan use plain vegetable oil and sometimes coconut oil. Though the community primarily has an affinity towards non-vegetarian dishes, precisely seafood, they also have an incredible taste and in fact a diverse variety of dishes in vegetarian fare as well.

Some of the dishes made in GSB Cuisine are according to the season. For example, during monsoon, since fresh fish is unavailable, they don't give up eating fish. Instead, dried fish substitutes for fresh fish like Sukka Baangda (Dried Mackeral). Solkadhi in GSB 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.

Dabdabheet is a term that Goan Saraswats and Konkan Saraswats use for thick curries. Mori (Shark) fish which tastes and resembles Mutton, is the most loved seafood of the Saraswats and Dabdabheet preparation is more into roasting of garam masalas. Some dishes are an integral part of GSB Weddings one of which is Aambat Batata, in Goan GSB weddings Aambat Batata is a must-have on the menu. Ova Leaves (Carom/Ajwain Leaves) fritters are an essential accompaniment for vegetarian meals. GSB's follow Mondays and Thursdays (sometimes Tuesdays) as strictly vegetarian days. During these days pure vegetarian meals are prepared and Rice-Dal-fritters are the preferred meal. (Recipes 11-15)

As monsoon season starts, seasonal fruit like Neerphanas (Breadfruit) starts being available and that is the time when Karwari Saraswats, as well as Goan Saraswats, make shallow fried fritters of the fruit called (Kaapi). Then during Ganpati times, a special Saraswat Ganpati Menu is served as Prashad/Naivedhya) offering to Ganesh God, some of the must-have Saraswat Ganpati delicacies are Mooga Ambat, Patoli, Talniche Modak, Khatkhate, and Panchamrut. (Recipes 17, 24, 25, 22 & 20)

(Recipes 21-25) This part takes you through the amazing desserts of The Saraswat Community like Mangane (a variant of Kheer), Patoli and Ganpati Special Talniche Modak (Deep fried Modak) and a special one pot meal dish mandatorily made during Ganpati Festival which is akin to Kerala's Avial called "Khatkhate". Also, a unique raita which is cooked with pineapples called "Anasache Saasav".

Selected Recipes:

  1. Alsande Tondak- Goan Saraswat Style red eye cowpeas curry/gravy with Tiny Prawns in Roasted Coconut and Spices base.

  2. Daalichi Aamti - Goan Saraswat Style Raw Mango Dal cooked with Drumsticks.

  3. Kairicha Goad Loncha - 70+ years old Family recipe of Goan-Saraswat style Raw Mango Pickle.

  4. Modakachi Aamti - Goan-Saraswat Style Silver Baitfish curry with drumsticks and Raw Mango.

  5. Kuvol - Goan-Saraswat Style rare gem of a recipe. An uncooked, make in a jiffy Chutney Curry to eat with rice.

  6. Solkadhi - Goan-Saraswat Style family recipe of Kokum Drink.

  7. Sukka Baangda Kismoor - A Monsoon special uncooked Koshimbir (Salad) made with Dried Mackeral in Goan-Saraswat Style

  8. Karwari Dal - Karwar-Saraswat style Family Recipe of Dal perfumed with Tirphal (aromatic spices)

  9. Karwari Prawns Curry - Fish curry cooked in Karwari-Saraswat Style nuance.

  10. Karwari Saasav - An uncooked Fruit Salad sweet dish in coconut base made in Karwari Saraswat Style.

  11. Karwari Tondli Upkari - Upakri meaning, "stir fry". Ivy gourd is stir-fried in Karwari-Saraswat Style

  12. Moricha Dabdabheet - Shark fish curry made in Konkan-Goa Saraswat Style with Whole Indian Aromatic Spices and Coconut base

  13. Aambat Batata - Goan-Konkan GSB Wedding menu dish of Potato gravy in sweet-sour-spicy flavour.

  14. Kaircha Kayras - A unique rare gem Konkan-Goan Saraswat Semi-thick sweet-sour curry of Raw Mango.

  15. Ova Paan Bhajji - Carom/Ajwain leaves deep-fried fritters made in Saraswat Style.

  16. Neerphansaachi Kaapi - Shallow fried Breadfruit.

  17. Mooga Aambat - Green Gram Curry cooked in Coconut & Spices in Karwari-Saraswat Style.

  18. Kairichi Uddamethi - Raw Mango curry cooked in a base of split dehusked Bengal Gram and Fenugreek seeds flavour in Karwari-Saraswat Style.

  19. Soundale Fry - Butterfish shallow fried in Saraswat Style.

  20. Panchamrut - A rare Goan-Saraswat side relish made only during festive or auspicious occasions with five flavours sweet-sour-salty-spicy-bitter.

  21. Ananasache Saasav - Cooked Raita of Pineapple in Coconut-Mustard Seeds base in Goan-Saraswat Style.

  22. Khatkhate - A medley of different vegetables cooked without any temepring and no onion-no garlic.

  23. Mangane - a unique Saraswat kheer made with Sago and Split Bengal Gram in Coconut Milk.

  24. Patoli - Steamed Rice Flour Dessert filled with Coconut - Jaggery filling and wrapped in turmeric leaf.

  25. Talniche Modak - Saraswat Ganpati Special Deep Fried Coconut-Jaggery filled Dumplings.


1. Alsande Tondak


Alsande Tondak - Alsande is a pulse indigenous to Goa. This pulse is the pride of Goa. using Alsande in thick gravy called Tondak is most loved by Goan Saraswats as it has a soft texture and unique and exquisite bold taste. Tondak comes from the term "Tondi Laavne" (to lick/put in the mouth)

Alsande Tondak
Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


2. Daalichi Aamti


Daalichi Aamti - The USP of this dish is to cook it the traditional way that is outdoor in an Aluminum Vessel. Right from the cooking of Toor Dal to the rest of the cooking process, the outdoor cooking method gives rusticity to this dish.

Daalichi Aamti
Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


3. Kairicha Goad Loncha


Kairicha Goad Loncha is a family recipe belonging to the Goan-Saraswat roots. Its USP is the pickle that has a flavour of spices like cinnamon, and bay leaf.

Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


4. Modakachi Aamti


Modakachi Aamti-Modak is silver bait fish. In Goan-Saraswat fish delicacies, combining fish with vegetables is not an unusual thing. In this curry, fish is complemented with drumsticks and raw mango acts as the primary souring agent.

Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


5. Kuvol


Kuvol is a dish which is made in less than 5 minutes. The ingredients simply need to be ground, liquified and it's eaten cold with hot rice. a rare gem!

Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


6. Solkadhi


Solkadhi is a digestive drink. Coconut milk extraction is purely homemade and not of the tetra pack. Ova (Ajwain/Carom seeds) added in it is a secret family ingredient as it aids in digestion.

Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


7. Sukka Baangda Kismoor


Sukka Baangda Kismoor-Dried Mackeral is best found in Goa and Karwar. During Monsoon this Kismoor (salad) is a must to make by GSB Families. The smokey flavour gives it an amazing taste.

Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


8. Karwari Dal


Karwari Dal is a Karwar-Saraswat Style Dal perfumed with Tirphal. (aromatic spices) Tirphal is essential in this dal and tempering must only be done in coconut oil as it is Karwari Cuisine's speciality.

Karwari Dal
Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


9. Karwari Prawns curry


Karwari Prawns curry-Karwari-Saraswat Cuisine uses Kokum as a souring agent, fenugreek seeds for tempering is the USP and in the last, a drizzle of coconut oil is a particularly Karwari preparation style nuance.

Karwari Prawns curry
Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


10. Karwari Saasav


Karwari Saasav- Saasav in Konkani means mustard seeds, hence the dish name. Any one fruit or mixed fruits can be used for this dish. Uncooked Saasav has to be consumed on the same day. Consume it as a sweet dish post-meal.

Karwari Saasav
Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


11. Karwari Tondli Upkari


Tondli Upkari - Upakri means stir fried. Karwari Saraswat Style Stir-fried Ivy gourd. Urad Dal is a must for tempering and only coconut oil is to be used to get the right flavour.

Karwari Tondli Upkari
Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


12. Moricha Dabdabheet


Moricha Dabdabheet is a Shark fish curry made in Konkan-Goa Saraswat Style with whole Indian Aromatic Spices and Coconut base gravy which shouldn't be too thick and neither too thin/runny. (Semi-thick consistency)

Moicha Dabdabheet
Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


13. Aambat Batata


Aambat Batata is a Goan-Konkan GSB Wedding Menu dish of Potato Gravy in a sweet-sour-spicy flavour. The flavours of sweet-sour-spicy should be balanced and neither one should increase or decrease.

Aambat Batata
Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


14. Kaircha Kayras


Kaircha Kayras is a unique rare gem Konkan-Goan Saraswat Semi-thick sweet-sour curry of Raw Mango. Sweetness should be a little more than it should taste sour, and should have a semi-thick consistency.

Kaircha Kayras
Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


15. Ova Paan Bhajji


Ova Paan Bhajji is a Carom/Ajwain leaves deep-fried fritters made in Saraswat Style. Consume it within an hour after it is deep fried, immediate consumption will be much better.

Ova Paan Bhajji
Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


16. Neerphansaachi Kaapi


Neerphanas or breadfruit is a seasonal dish that you'll get during monsoons. The softer the breadfruit is the more tasty and good quality it is.

Photo credit: Shivani Kulkarni


17. Mooga Aambat


Mooga Aambat is a Karwari-Saraswat Style green gram curry cooked in Coconut & Spices. Kokum is a must in Karwari Mooga Aambat, if not available tamarind pulp can be used.

Photo Credit: Shivani Kulkarni


18. Kairichi Uddamethi


Kairichi Uddamethi is a Raw Mango curry cooked in a base of split dehusked Bengal Gram and Fenugreek seeds flavour in Karwari-Saraswat Style.

Photo Credit: Shivani Kulkarni


19. Soundale Fry


Soundale fry - Saraswats love butterfish the most, but any fish can be shallow fried in the same manner to make this dish.

Photo Credit: Shivani Kulkarni


20. Panchaamrut


Panchamrut is a rare Goan-Saraswat side relish made only during festive or auspicious occasions with five flavours sweet-sour-salty-spicy-bitter. Panchamrut is a special festive dish and should be eaten as it is or with puri or chapati.

Photo Credit: Shivani Kulkarni


21. Ananasache Saasav


Ananasache Saasav is a cooked Raita of Pineapple in Coconut-Mustard Seeds base in Goan-Saraswat Style. It is a sweet & sour cooked raita where pineapple acts as the major souring agent.

Photo Credit: Shivani Kulkarni


22. Khatkhate


Khatkhate is a mix vegetable one-pot dish mandatorily made during Ganpati, 5, 7, 9, 11, 21 or 25 vegetables can be used, but corn and tirphal spice are mandatory. It is a medley of different vegetables cooked without any tempering and with no-onion-no garlic.

Photo Credit: Shivani Kulkarni


23. Mangane


Mangane is a unique Saraswat kheer made with Sago and Split Bengal Gram in Coconut Milk. The kheer should be thick.

Photo Credit: Shivani Kulkarni


24. Patoli


Patoli is a steamed Rice Flour Dessert filled with a Coconut - Jaggery filling, wrapped in turmeric leaf. Turmeric leaf is a must for perfuming the Patoli but can be substituted with banana leaf if unavailable.

Photo Credit: Shivani Kulkarni


25. Talniche Modak


Talniche Modak is a Saraswat Ganpati Special deep fried Coconut-Jaggery filled Dumpling. It is very easy to prepare and if the stuffing is made early, it stays in the refrigerator for a long time.

Photo Credit: Shivani Kulkarni


Special Thanks to Shivani Kulkarni for sharing her amazing recipes with us!

For more such recipes from Shivani, follow her on Instagram: @Authentic Swaad

Shivani Kulkarni, born and raised true Mumbaikar. Growing up authentically in a Gowd Saraswat Brahmin Family, the food at her home was a celebration of cuisines coming from her Saraswat Roots. In 2020, when the world was battling the naturally unavoidable Covid 19 Pandemic, India started shutting down and that gave her the major reason to connect to cooking, an activity which gave her so much peace and joy.

But instead of cooking instant/fad dishes, she passionately at the age of 22, was learning from her mother the community dishes and the nuances of it. She gave birth to her Food blog/page on Instagram called “Authentic Swaad” on 2nd October 2020, wherein she documents her traditional and unheard Saraswat community dishes. Since its inception, Authentic Swaad has received love from an audience that is not only based in India and any other foreign countries but in Pakistan as well. It is true that “Food definitely brings people closer”.

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