Goan chamucas

Steven Joyce

It might seem strange to find Goan recipes in a book about food in Lisbon, but there are long culinary threads binding Goa and Portugal, just as there are between other former Portuguese colonies like Brazil, Macau, Angola, Cape Verde and Mozambique.

The Portuguese colonised Goa in the 16th century, making it central to the spice trading routes that ran from their colonies in east Asia to Europe and on to the Americas. They introduced the hot chilli pepper to India from its native South America, along with vinegar, which Goan cooks learnt to make from palm wine and coconut toddy. Goa remained a colony until the 1960s, and, as with other colonies, many Portuguese settled in Goa and many Goans settled in Portugal. (Because of the sizeable Catholic community in Goa, it is one of the few places in India where pork is eaten; they have their own style of spicy chouriço (chorizo) sausage.) The family who own Cantinho da Paz and Restaurante Nova Goa have been in Lisbon for generations, but the food in their wonderful restaurants remains true to their roots. These crunchy, juicy beef samosas, the Goan Green Coconut Chutney on page 59 and the Spicy Onion Bhajis on page 62 are all inspired by several meals that daughter Ana Fernandes treated me to; the Goan Fish Curry on page 132 is a dish I was taught to make by founder and father, chef Sebastiao Fernandes.


Quantity Ingredient


Quantity Ingredient
150g plain flour, plus more to dust
1/4 teaspoon salt
11/2 tablespoons flavourless oil, plus more to grease
50-60ml cold water

Masala paste

Quantity Ingredient
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 green cardamom pods, seeds popped out and pods discarded
1/4 teaspoon ground chilli
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
thumb-sized piece ginger, grated
1 garlic clove, grated


Quantity Ingredient
500g minced beef, at least 10 per cent fat
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
splash flavourless oil, plus more for frying
1 onion, very finely chopped
1 green pepper, halved, and ribs and seeds removed, very finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped
100ml water
4 tablespoons finely chopped coriander leaves


  1. To make the pastry, mix the flour and salt together in a bowl, then rub in the oil using your fingers, until the mixture resembles sand. Next, gradually add the cold water to bring it together and form a dough – but don’t let it become too sticky (you may not need to add all the water). When the dough has just about come together but is still slightly crumbly, tip it onto a clean, floured work surface and knead. Massage the dough for about 5 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with cling film (plastic wrap). Set aside to rest at room temperature while you make the filling.
  2. To make the masala paste, grind the coriander and cardamom seeds to a fine powder, then add to the other spices. Stir in the tamarind, ginger and garlic.
  3. Place the mince in a large bowl and add the masala paste, salt and vinegar. Using your hands again, combine the paste with the mince until it is smooth and thoroughly mixed. Set aside.
  4. Heat a splash of flavourless oil in a frying pan over a medium–low heat and add the onion and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent, then add the chopped green chilli and the minced meat mixture and brown, breaking up the meat into tiny pieces with the edge of a spatula as it cooks. When browned, add the water and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 1–2 minutes until it looks saucy rather than wet. Remove from the heat , spinkle over the chopped coriander and stir. Taste and add more salt, if necessary and set aside.
  5. When ready to cook, place a deep saucepan over a medium heat and fill with about 5 cm of flavourless oil. The oil is ready to be used when it reaches 175ºC on a pan thermometer, or when a cube of day-old bread, dropped into the oil, fizzes and browns in 30 seconds. Don’t let the oil get any hotter, as the pastry will cook too quickly on the outside and be raw on the inside.
  6. Divide the dough into 6 equal-sized balls. With a floured rolling pin and on a floured board, roll each one out into a 20 cm circle, at which point the dough will be thinner than 1 mm and almost translucent.
  7. Halve each circle. Fold one third of the pastry over, and then the other third, to form a cone. Wet the outer loose edge of pastry with water to seal the cone, then pinch shut the bottom of the cone. Hold the open-topped cone of pastry in your hand, so the opening sits within a ring formed by your thumb and forefinger. Fill it with mince until three-quarters full, then dampen the open edges of the pastry and pinch them shut.
  8. Cook the samosas for about 3 minutes, with no more than 2 in the pan at a time (overcrowding the pan will cause the temperature of the oil to drop and make the samosas greasy), turning occasionally. When ready, the pastry will appear bubbly and golden brown.
  9. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep warm while you cook the rest. Serve with the coconut chutney on page 59 and some spicy pickles.
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