To coincide with the Goa Carnaval 2014 celebrations and grand parade on March 1st 2014, Goa Tourism department organized the Food and Cultural Festival from February 28th to March 4th. I was honored to be invited by Goa Tourism board to visit these celebrations and blog about them. The Food & Cultural Festival 2014 happened on the Merces grounds just outside the capital city of Panaji and had some amazing performances lined up like Salsa Dances, Samba dances, performance by Indipop star Rabbi Shergill and popular bollywood singer Kunal Ganjawala. Along with this, there was food not just from Goa but from 15 different states of India so that visitors could venture on a gastronomical journey!
I was very excited to be there as I’m a foodie and love to try out different varieties available not just in Goa but across the country. The cuisine and rich legacy of Goa was depicted in this Food & Cultural festival which also included Samba performance by a Brazilian troupe specially flown down just for this occasion!
Chouris Pao which is a Goan delicacy made of Goan bread stuffed with Goan sausages was a big hit at the food festival as everyone wanted to try it. Firefly had a very interesting take on it saying “Susegad Rao and Eat Chouris Pao” which translated to “Chill out (Keep Calm) and eat Chouris Pao”!
There were lot of live BBQs set up with pork ribs, beef steaks and chicken steaks which were actively sought out by many tourists who loved the Goan masalas. The weather was perfectly cool allowing people to enjoy the BBQ along with some chilled beer or soft drinks.
Goa is well known for it’s sea food as it is home to more than 25 beaches even though its India’s smallest state! So it’s but obvious that Seafood is the best here and I tried many varieties of fish fry along with this Squid fry which was really spicy and jelled well with my chilled Kingfisher Beer! The prices of the liquor and food was kept very cheap so that every Goan and tourist could enjoy the food without worrying about the hit on their pockets!
There was also food from other states like Karnataka like Mysore Special Gobi Manchurian and American Sweet corn. Goans as well tourists were enthusiastically trying these dishes out. The food and cultural festival was Goa’s tribute to its diverse population and heritage; it’s aim was to spread a message of peace, unity and harmony.
Magsons, one of the legendary food and retail stores of Goa, also had a stall with Mexican Wraps which were Salsalito Tortillas with Chicken or Felafel fillings and served with Hummus and Tabouleh. They also had Salsalito Nachos with Guacamole and Garlic Cream Cheese! Needless to say, it was one of the most popular stores that evening too!
Moving on to the performances, there were wonderful Salsa performances by Goan dancers, few of whom had even appeared on national shows like “India’s Got Talent”. The energy and the enthusiasm by which these dancers performed got everyone on their feet and start dancing to the Salsa and Samba!
One of my favorite Bollywood Singers Kunal Ganjawala was up next who ensured that he kept the crowd pepped up and enthusiastic throughout the evening. He joked with the audience, interacted with them and even invited couple of them to dance with him! He sang some of his most popular songs like “Dil Keh Raha Hain”, “Dil na Diya”, “Channa Vey”, “Saalam Namaste” which got the crowd dancing like crazy but they were all waiting for his most popular song!
At the end he tried to leave the stage without singing “Bheegey Hont” but pleads from audience got him back and he sang the song to thunderous applause! In fact he had to sing it twice to appease the audience who just wouldn’t let him go!
I loved the way he sang “I got to go” in the same tune as the yoodle from “Bheegey Hont” song from Murder which made him famous overnight! He proved himself as a versatile singer who has a solid and deep knowledge of music rather than recent singers who claim to rap or sing in a nasal voice!
This year’s Carnaval revived the yesteryears’ fervor with larger-than-life décor, mask installations and a Food & Cultural Festival – the biggest of its kind in Goa. Goa Tourism left no stone unturned to take the 2014 Carnaval experience to a heightened level of excitement and entertainment!
The Food & Cultural Festival for the first time allowed visitors to not only get to taste local Goan Cuisine but also cuisines of 15 other states of India. It offered visitors the opportunity to experience cuisine and culture through a unique blend of food, fun, local and national live music performances, fashion shows, and entertainment.
I had a thoroughly enjoyable time at the Food and Cultural Festival organized on the side lines of Goa Carnaval 2014 by Goa Tourism board and I thank them for a wonderful opportunity to be able to have a ringside view of the wonderful celebrations!