When I was younger, my grandparents would frequently travel between their houses in Goa and Mumbai. Back then, air travel was not as common and no weight limits were applicable to bus or train journeys. This allowed my grandfather to transport as many goodies and parcels as he could possibly carry. The days after his arrival would be spent in the distribution of sweets, masalas and other treats. The largest parcel, more often than not, would be reserved for me. My grandparents would know better than to come without my favourite sweets - which had to be purchased from that one specific shop in North Goa. If they would buy from anywhere else, they knew I would immediately know the difference! Turns out, I had the makings of a critic even then.
Also Read: How To Make Goan Chicken Croquettes At Home
What sparked this trip of mine down memory lane is my father's recent business trip to Goa. This time, he was the one under strict 'orders' to get back our beloved delicacies (no matter if he had to leave some of his things behind). Since he returned by train, we got to feast on perath, doce, bolinha and of course, pinaca. Over the years, pinaca has steadily grown to become my favourite Goan sweet. Just a bite is enough to remind me of the good old days. But delving now into how it's made has been equally rewarding. So, allow me to briefly introduce you to this traditional delicacy:
What Is Pinaca?
Also called pinagr, pinaca is typically made using parboiled Goan rice, coconut and palm jaggery. In terms of flavour, it may also carry a subtle hint of cardamom. It is moderately soft to bite into, but retains a slightly gritty texture. Pinaca is commonly shaped into small cylinders, but it may also be served in a cake-like semicircular mound. It has a distinctive colour, which seems black but is actually a very dark brown. Those unfamiliar with sweets containing palm jaggery may be put off by its appearance - and I have noticed this firsthand in many instances. But there is no doubt about its wholesome yumminess. Additionally, one of my favourite things about pinagr is that it is delicately sweet and not overpowering, when made right. This delicacy is often made during Christmas but is also savoured at other times.
Also Read: Rajgira Sheera With Palm Jaggery And Walnuts: A Sweet Treat From Maharashtra
How To Make Pinaca At Home | Quick And Easy Recipe For Goan Pinagr
Wash and then drain the parboiled rice. Ensure all the moisture evaporates. Then dry roast the rice in a pan for around 10 minutes, until it turns light brown. Set aside to cool. Later, grind the roasted rice to get a fine powder. Separately grind the grated coconut too.
In a thick, heavy-bottomed vessel, melt the jaggery and turn off the heat once all lumps have dissolved. Mix the ground coconut, cardamom powder and salt with the melted jaggery. Keep a small quantity of the prepared rice flour. In batches, combine the remaining with the coconut-jaggery mixture.
Allow the mixture to cool and then roll small portions of it in your palms to make croquette-like shapes. Roll each piece in the rice flour set aside earlier. Allow the pinaca to set on a plate for around 30 minutes. After that, you can savour them or store them together for a few days.
Is Pinaca Healthy?
The secret to enjoying sweets, as always, is moderation. But pinaca scores higher on the nutritional scale than many other types of mithai and desserts due to multiple reasons. Firstly, it uses palm jaggery and does not contain unhealthy refined sugar. Palm jaggery is known to be rich in iron and other important nutrients. It can help keep up your energy levels and may also help combat constipation, migraines and other ailments. Secondly, it uses red rice flour which is packed with minerals and antioxidants that can work wonders for your body. Pinaca is also notably free of ghee or any milk product. Finally, the grated coconut added only benefits your health further.
I hope I have convinced you to try this sweet whenever you get the chance to do so! Don't miss out.
Also Read: 15 Best Goan Recipes | Popular Goan Recipes
About Toshita SahniToshita is fuelled by wordplay, wanderlust, wonderment and Alliteration. When she is not blissfully contemplating her next meal, she enjoys reading novels and roaming around the city.