Elizabeth Fernandes’ version of a south Goa Rechado

Rechado is a red chilli based paste that is used in fried fish preparations. The Portuguese word ‘rechado’ simply means ‘stuffed’. Rechado is best stuffed in round oily fish like mackerels or even flat fish like the local pomfret or simply used to coat fish steaks before coating them in semolina or simply frying it as it. Recently I added deep fried curry leaves to the rechado while stuffing the mackerels; it was like eating a Goan ‘bangda fry’ with distinct Kerala flavour. 

Central to this dish is the red Kashmiri chilli and the goa vinegar. When the Portuguese cooks arrived in India, they realised that the Indians did not make vinegar.  Some ingenious Franciscan priests are said to have solved the problem by manufacturing vinegar from coconut toddy, an alcoholic drink fermented from the sap of the palm tree.

Thanks to the many Portuguese ports and trading routes, locals in Portuguese India were introduced to ingredients from across the globe that are now synonymous with Indian cooking such as chillies which arrived in the 1500’s along with  potatoes, maize and tomatoes. Prior to this long pepper which grew abundantly in the forests of the Western Ghats and Malabar had been the hottest spice known to Indians. 

I received a bottle of rechado, which when i sampled raw almost tasted like a great pickle. I had to arm twist the precise recipe as I was first given rough estimates of the ingredients. This recipe has much more tamarind and less vinegar and the sugar adds a wonderful sweetness to balance the hot chillies. 

The original recipe belonged to Elizabeth Fernandes who passed less than a year ago; she was an amazing cook even in her late 70’s. Her daughter Effie Menezes made this masala and gifted it to me while on a recent trip to Goa. I had to wrangle the recipe from her brother Gordon Fernandes who is my parishioner and a dear friend and who I must quote said, ” I did not break my head for my board exams the way I broke it for this recipe. 

Finally, Do not take great food recipes to your grave. We need to keep our culture alive and selfishness does not promote food culture. Please SHARE YOUR recipes with me on +91  9820242151Let me know what you think of this. 


20 red dry chillies
I cup vinegar
a ball of tamarind (laddoo size)
2 pod garlic
1/2 inch ginger
1/4 teaspoon peppercorns
3 cloves
a pinch of jeera (cumin)1 tsp salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 big onion

Grind all the above ingredients in vinegar Including the onion. Cool and refrigerate. 

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