FEATURE – The smallest state in India is a vast garden bordered by the Arabian Sea. Its lifestyle and gastronomy make it an epicurean destination whose Indian chef, Rita Shinde, is one of the best ambassadors. His culinary workshop is always full! Story of a spicy experience …
To reach Dabolim, it takes a good forty minutes drive from Panjim, the capital of the Indian state of Goa. Head south, following the asphalt ribbon fringed with coconut palms across the countryside. Rice fields with geometric lines form a plant puzzle as far as the eye can see. It is here, in a tender green house surrounded by a lush garden, that chef Rita Shinde opened her famous culinary workshop, Rita’s Gourmet . Born in Diu, a former Portuguese trading post in Gujarat, Rita was raised in Goa by “a mother of Indo-Lusitanian descent who was an outstanding cook.”
Regional Cuisines of India and Italian gastronomy
Rita Shinde discovered very early the use of spices, the dosage of ingredients, the secrets of a family kitchen guided above all by the impulses of the heart. Adult, she is passionate, enlightened amateur, for the regional cuisines of India but also for the Italian, Portuguese and Eastern gastronomies, mixing perfectly these multiple influences. Driven by her early fans, family and friends, she opened a workshop to share her expertise. The sauce takes quickly. Rita is invited to many culinary programs and receives international chefs. His motivation? “The happiness of transmitting (his) knowledge and the magic of shared emotions around a good meal”.
A short guide to accessories, their best allies.
Everyone participates in the preparation of breakfast
This morning, the meeting of the group course is set at 9:30. Guests from all walks of life, Indian, English and Asian tourists, settle under the gazebo equipped with tables, sinks and stoves. Rita hastens to prepare the chai, the Indian tea with milk and spices, under the watchful eye of her husband. The scent of ginger, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom make the effect of a balm. The lips dipped in the smoking beverage, everyone focuses on his cup.
To wake up her troupe, Rita invites everyone to participate in the making of breakfast: masala dosa, “pancakes” typical of southern India filled with scented potatoes. All ingredients are ready, arranged in small earthenware containers: dough, garnish, sauces and freshly chopped coriander. Everyone to “jump” his dosa and season it as he pleases.
On the way to the market!
For an hour, from 10:30 to 11:30, the chef takes her students to “Vasco Market” where local farmers sell their crops. At each alley his specialty, vegetables, meats, and under the covered market, the fish. The catch of the day, still wriggling, but also the stalls of dried fish whose pungent smell can titillate the nostrils of the most delicate.
Further on, the women in colorful outfits expose their personal productions on small squares of fabrics or burlap laid on the floor. Aromatic herbs, exotic vegetables, fruits, bananas, pineapples, or jack fruits picked from their gardens. There are also great productions. The rice grown from June to September is the first plant produced in Goa followed by cereals, such as legumes and millet, cashew nuts and coconut …
Rita explains each unknown plant while filling her basket for the workshop. On the menu of the day, five typical dishes of Goa “Rissois de Camarao”, “Galinha Cafreal”, “Recheado”, “Goan Prawn Curry” and “Bolo Mimosa”. For each recipe, Rita details the ingredients, explains the techniques to put into practice in stride.
And anecdotes spring up, like the story of the Mozambican origin of the Cafreal chicken introduced to Goa by the Portuguese. More than a cooking class, Rita’s workshop is a lesson in things, which ends with a great tasting of all freshly made dishes. History to taste the flavors of Goa … By the menu!