Western India – Food Tradition in Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Goa

Several cities in Western India are surrounded by sea, getting varieties of seafood like fishes, shrimps, and lobsters are easy. But many of the coastal states eat strictly vegetarian food. People in the state of Gujarat, which borders with the Arabian Sea are Hindus and they eat only vegetarian food. Gujarat is popular for the food known as thali, which consists of rice, vegetable curry, dal, beans, pickles, chutney, and raita.

From Gujarat as you travel along the coast, you will reach Maharashtra where Mumbai is located. Mumbai is a cosmopolitan city similar to New York. People from all over India and from other countries have settled in Mumbai, giving it a unique culture and flavor due to varieties of food from all over the world. Maharashtrians use a lot of coconut and seafood in their cooking. Both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian foods are eaten with rice or bhakris (flat crispy bread) and with Papadum (made from flour, lentil and rice). The most popular dessert in Maharashtra is Puran poli which is roti stuffed with mixture of gram flour and jaggery and coconut.

In Maharashtra, every day meal is a feast that consists of various food items elegantly arranged in a thali (platter). The platter consists of a pinch of salt ( an individual can add more salt based on their personal tastes), a lemon wedge (used to squeeze over the food for lemony taste and to reduce the spice in the food), raita (curd mixed with cucumber or onion pieces), chutney (spices mixed with coconut, chillies, and water), and two or three varieties of vegetable curries. Each meal is started with adding clarified butter to the rice and varan (Maharashtrian dal made from lentils).

As you travel from Mumbai towards south you will reach Goa, an internationally popular tourist spot for its beaches and food. Food in Goa is influenced by cuisine from Portugal, and from the religions of Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam. Exotic spices, coconut, fish, rice, and chutneys are the characteristic keystones of Goa food. The staple foods for Goa natives are varieties of fish curries and rice. In rural areas people prepare their food with clay pots and firewood to get a smoky taste and flavor.

One of the famous dishes in Goa is ambot tik (ambot means Sour and tik means spicy in Konkani ) that can be made using vegetables, seafood, chicken, and meat. Another Goan delicacy is vindaloo (name comes from Portuguese) prepared with various Indian spices and palm vinegar. Though vindaloo can be prepared with vegetables, meat, or chicken, pork vindaloo is very popular in Goa. The popular and traditional sweet in Goa is bebinca (made with sugar, clarified butter, flour, and coconut milk) which is called the queen of Goan sweets. The popular drink in Goa is feni, a spirit made from coconut or cashew apple. It contains more than 40% alcohol by volume, so itis mainly used in cocktail mixes, coke, lemonade, and iced tea.

Due to influx of foreign tourists, restaurants in Goa offers varieties of international fare. But the best place to eat traditional Goa food is in street-side restaurants, cafes, and home-based cafes.


I love to read and write about various aspects of India, people, culture, history, tradition, food, etc. My goal for this web site is to help westerns understand India that are not generally available in other web sites.


  1. Have had Bebinca and Vindaloo. . . . . have to try out ambot tik 🙂

  2. Mumbai food says:

    Good info, several years back, I used to live in Mumbai where I had lot of good food, your blog is making me to go back in my life

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