Christmas in Goa

Although Jesus was not born on Christmas, and probably not even in the wintertime, Goa, along with the rest of the Christian world, celebrates his birthday on December 25th. It may seem a little late for a Christmas post, but in Goa Christmas celebrations continue until the end of winter break in the beginning of January. In the USA Christmas time starts in the beginning of December and ends shortly after Dec 25, but here, Christmas celebrations start a few days before Dec 25. Many Xmas parties are after Dec 25th in Goa.Christmas is a very festive time in Goa that brings many special dishes to the table. Sans rival is a Goan cake that makes many appearances during the holiday season. It is a cashew cake with sugar icing. The baker, Raju, at Nostalgia in south Goa baked about 20 sans rival cakes in two days, and each cake has about five layers. Bebinca is another layer cake that takes about 6 hours to cook. Talk about slow food. The coconut batter is baked one layer at a time with a little ghee between each layer until there are 8 to 12 layers. the resulting cake becomes a dark translucent color with layers that peel apart. Everyone has there own way of eating bebinca. Another festive Goan classic that Chef Fernando and his team creates for the Christmas season is Dedos De Dama, cashew frangipane coated in sugar caramel. For the Goan parties last week we cut a watermellon in half and stick the dedos de dama (maiden’s fingers) onto decorated skewers, which are then dipped into hot caramel (like making crouquembouche) then the skewers are stuck into the watermelon, making a funky spiked dome. Guests pull a stick from the watermelon and enjoy the dedos de dama like lolypops.I also enjoyed making Neuros with the hardcore Goan chefs at Nostalgia. Neuros are addictive sweets that are made for Christmas in Goa. They are fried pastries like empanadas that are filled with semolina and coconut. The first Neuro is shaped into a cross to bless the rest of the batch which are shaped like half moons using a special spoon that has a fluted pastry wheel at one end and a spoon for the filling on the other end. I found some of these spoons in Mapsa for 15 rupees each.

Sweets from Around the World for Every Season