Friday, 3 February 2012 6:55 AM
If you're planning holidays to Goa, India, you're bound to be thinking about lounging on beautiful beaches, soaking up the sunshine and relaxing. Food is an important part of the region's culture, though, so make sure you try some of the local dishes.
Coconut features heavily in many of the meals on offer, while seafood is an important part of many people's diets here too.
You'll even find curries featuring slightly unusual ingredients, like breadfruit and papaya if you're after something a little bit different.
Here are just five of the Goan specialities you shouldn't miss out on during your break.
This pork-based dish is a firm favourite in Goa and one that is perfect if you like your food to be spicy.
Pieces of boneless pork are cooked off in a sauce infused with two types of chilli, turmeric, cumin, ginger, garlic, peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, vinegar and onion. Typically, sorpotel is served with sanna, a rice and coconut cake that often accompanies Goan meals instead of bread.
As you might expect, seafood is a staple part of the Goan diet thanks to the state's coastal location.
You'll find all manner of fish curries on the menu, with many featuring a coconut milk sauce. However, there are also hot and sour dishes on offer – like Ambot Tik – that can be served with either fish or prawns.
This speciality is heavily influenced by the Portuguese settlers who lived in Goa for hundreds of years. In fact, you might think that the marinade used on the meat strongly resembles peri-peri sauce.
Chicken cafreal consists of fried or grilled chicken that has been marinated – usually overnight – in a spicy coating. Sides are normally simple, with a green salad all that accompanies this mouth-watering meal.
This is a mixed-vegetable curry that is bound to delight the taste buds of any non-meat eaters out there.
Featuring ingredients such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and French beans in a sweet and sour curry sauce, it's a hotpot of rich flavours.
The best way to enjoy many of Goa's curries is with steamed rice – and khatkhatem is no exception – as this allows the various spices to come through as you enjoy your meal.
No trip to Goa would be complete without sampling one of its most famous desserts – bibinca.
At first glance, it appears to be a layered cake, but when you take a closer look, you'll discover it is made from rather thick pancakes.
Holidays are all about treating yourself, so don't worry about the calories and just enjoy the delectable taste of this typically Goan sweet.
There is one speciality you are likely to come across on the drinks menu that you ought to sample at least once during your trip – feni.
It's a kind of liqueur made from either the juice of a cashew fruit or the sap from a coconut palm. There are numerous distilleries in Goa that brew the unusual beverage, so you might even be able to see how it's made.
The best-quality feni is distilled at least two, and normally three, times, making it quite strong.
You don't have to drink it neat, though, with the spirit often used in cocktails at the beach bars or served with a mixer like tonic or lemonade.