Ask anyone who visits Goa why they like coming down and chances are that 8 times out of 10, they will mention the food here as one of the reasons. That’s because Goan cuisine, especially the Catholic Goan cuisine is somewhat different from the average Indian fare, not that the cuisine of any one Indian state can be generically described as “Indian fare”
Goa is a former Portuguese colony so it’s not surprising that the local cuisine, most especially the Goan Catholic cooking is heavily influenced by Portuguese cuisine. This means a lot of Goan Catholic food is an interesting fusion of typically non-Indian dishes flavoured with Indian spices and ingredients. It also means that this cuisine tends to lean very heavily in the direction of non-vegetarian cooking, and even quite a few desserts depend very heavily on eggs.
However, it is possible to adapt many of the non-vegetarian Goan preparations to make them vegetarian while still keeping their spice mix or combination much the same. There are also authentic vegetarian versions of non-vegetarian dishes which are routinely cooked in Goan kitchens without meat, fish or eggs.
The Feijoada is one of them. This is typically Portuguese dish which is today found as one of the more popular dishes in most of the former Portuguese colonies including Brazil, Macau, Angola and Mozambique. In fact, Brazil considers this its national dish!
In Portugal, Feijoada is typically cooked with pork and the bean used depends on the part of Portugal where it is cooked and which beans is more commonly available there. So you will find the Portuguese also cooking Feijoada with white beans or kidney beans, and some versions include vegetables as well. So really speaking, you could cook this dish with whatever dried beans you have in your pantry.
In Goa, Feijoada is cooked with black eyed beans which is very easily available locally and comes in two versions, with and without pork. The addition of spices and coconut milk make the Goan Feijoada an absolute delight, creamy and full of flavour.
Feijoada (Goan Black Eyed Beans And Coconut Milk Stew)
(Adapted from 5Spices, 50 Dishes by Ruta Kahate)