I’ve been in India twice, but I’ve yet to visit Goa. The fabled hippie paradise is definitely on my list, though. I’m especially curious about Goan spices and food and imagine it’s a mixture of Indian and Portuguese, both delicious. Here, Edel Flood tells all about three spice plantations I – and you – can enjoy.
Goa’s spice plantations provide more than just an afternoon’s diversion from the beach, much more!
The farms grow a variety of crops: vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, chilli, curry leaves, turmeric, cloves, ginger, black pepper and nutmeg, as well as mangoes, papayas, bimbli, breadfruits, pineapples and jackfruits. Read on to find out which spice plantation might be right for your Goan holiday and what to expect there.
Savoi Spice Plantation – near Panaji and Ponda
The Savoi Spice Plantation is one of the oldest in Goa and the owners pride themselves on showing their guests a good time: in addition to a traditional welcome with drinks and snacks, expect to be wreathed in garlands of flowers.
After you’ve settled in and met your guide, you’ll explore the fields and groves of spice trees. Main crops include cloves, nutmeg, stone star spice, pineapples, jackfruits and pammello – a relative of the grapefruit, but with a sweeter flavour.
You’ll hear about the different types of flora, their history, how they are cultivated and how they can be used. Some plants have medicinal properties as well as strong flavours. You’ll even have an opportunity to swing between the branches of the betel nut tree, trying to pick nuts as you go!
In the evening, you can return to the plantation for a delicious home-cooked meal with all the fresh spices and flavours of Goan cooking. Folk dancing is part of the evening’s entertainment.
Sahakari Spice Farm – near Ponda
At Sahakari Spice Farm, traditional methods mixed with modern farming techniques ensure the plants get the best possible care. Water conservation is an important part of the process, replicating the conditions experienced during the rainy season for much of the year.
Education is important to the owners; expect your tour to include plenty of useful information. You’ll see vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, chilli, curry leaves and pepper – and learn their practical applications in cooking and medicine.
As at the Savoi Plantations, you can test your Tarzan skills between the betel nut trees. Also, women and children on the farm perform traditional Fugdi, Jagor and Dhalo dances. For an extra-special treat, you can wash and ride the plantation’s three elephants.
Pascoal Organic Spice Village – near Khandepar and Ponda
Main crops in the Pascoal plantation are coconut, cashew and areca nuts, with spice plants cultivated between groves of trees. What makes this plantation stand out is its location on the banks of a river, which means you can pedal boat and raft!
As at the other spice plantations, expect an extensive educational tour. Do visit the restaurant for traditional Goan fare served in earthenware pots, coconut shell bowls and on banana leaves. Numerous vegetarian dishes are on offer, and usually seafood and chicken, too.