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X For Xacuti Spice Mix - A Goan Specialty

One of my Ex-managers, Varada, is from Goa. She is a lady with great personality and very attached to her culture, traditions, and cuisines. Goan cuisine is famous for a variety of seafood. Spices, fish, and coconut which have ruled over the Goan food for centuries. However, Varada is a Goan Brahmin and a vegetarian from her roots. She used to bring authentic Goan vegetarian dishes in her tiffin. And thus my lunch hours used to be so heavenly (until I worked with her) as I am also a vegetarian foodie. Most of the times, a curry, and steamed rice was all about her lunch. I found a freshness in the food that she used to bring to the office because that was a completely new taste for me.  It was spunky and addictive. One specific curry that I still remember is Xacuti/shakuti. It is a delicious coconut based curry. Varada used to make Goan vegetable Xacuti, although Xacuti is best prepared with seafood.

The heart of Xacuti is a spice mix which adds a uniquely complex taste to the curry. What makes this Goan Vegetable Xacuti more special is the amalgamation of all flavors with a perfect balance. It has the bitterness of fenugreek, the sweetness of coconut, the sourness of tamarind/vinegar, the pungency of the onions, and the spiciness of red chili. In this post, I am going to give details of Xacuti Spice Mix that makes this curry super yum.

X For Xacuti Spice Mix
Now there is no perfect and fix recipe for Xacuti Spice Mix. Most of the Goan families buy the readymade Xacuti Spice Mix which is available in local Goan markets. A few things I remember what Varada (my manager) told me as Xacuti Spices and rest I googled. Xacuti Spice mix is a blend of close to 20 spices. I would list those spices here and if it is not covered in my A to Z spice list so far, I would also give a brief about that spice.

Here are first 9 spices those I have covered so far in my A to Z series. When you click on the image below, it will take you to the latest post "T For Turmeric". At the end of T post, you can find links to other posts.
X For Xacuti Spice Mix - Vibhu & Me
Remaining 9 spices are as below:
  1. Fenugreek Seeds: Fenugreek, commonly know as Methi, has made a permanent place in Indian kitchens. These amber colored seeds are little bitter in taste. However, if used wisely in food, they give ample of health benefits. Drinking soaked methi seeds water in the early morning empty stomach makes the hair thicker, stronger and brighter. It also aids in the weight loss, curing pimples, relief from lip cracks. 
  2. Red Mustard Seeds: One of the many types of mustard seed, these tiny seeds give a distinct flavor to the dish. For differentiating them from ordinary black mustard, you can see their size which is as tiny as poppy seeds. And the color is reddish in place of black. Mustard seeds have been greatly valued for their therapeutic effects in curing cold and sinus problems.
  3. Black Pepper: The most common spice in our houses for seasoning, who does not know black pepper! This hot and flavorful spice is even though very costly, many of us are addictive to its unique taste. It is a pungent spice that is used in Ayurvedic medicines to treat cognitive, respiratory, digestive issues taken in definite amount.
  4. Cloves: Cloves are flower buds that come from the clove tree. Strong in the aroma, hot and pungent in taste, cloves are used to flavor many Indian curries. The spice is known for its anti-inflammatory and antidiabetic properties. It is the most recommended remedy for oral issues like a toothache and gum problems.
  5. Cumin Seeds: Cumin is the most used spice in my kitchen as Dal without cumin tempering is assumed undone in my house. Just like South India heavily use mustard seeds in tempering, North Indian dishes are incomplete without cumin. Because of its strong aroma, only a small amount of cumin is used in recipes to provide them a powerful punch. Cumin is an excellent source of iron, manganese, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin B1.
  6. Coriander Seeds: Coriander seed is the fruiting body of the coriander plant. It comes with a freshness and often used in dishes to give it the distinct flavor of Coriander. They can either be cooked whole as part of initial tempering, where their flavor is enhanced, or they can be ground to make Coriander powder. They help in regulating blood sugar levels, improving digestion and heart health, weight loss, skin and hair care and boosting immunity. 
  7. Black Cardamom: Just like green cardamom, black cardamom is also a flavorful spice. But black cardamom has a completely different smoky, peppery quality because it is dried over open, smoky flames. It can hold up its flavor well and is preferred for, heavier, spicier dishes than the green or white pods. Rich in antioxidants, the spice helps to neutralize free radicals and prevent signs of aging, such as wrinkles and blemishes.
  8. Caraway Seeds: Often called Kala Jira as it has a similar appearance as that of cumin. It is an aromatic spice like fennel. In the traditional Europian cuisine, caraway seed is one of the dominant spices. I never used it personally so can't really explain its taste. 
  9. Bay Leaves: Indian Bay is also known as cinnamon leaf and has a decidedly cinnamon flavor. It is used extensively in kormas and curries. The most impressive health benefits of bay leaves include their ability to detoxify the body and protect it from bacterial infections.
X For Xacuti Spice Mix - Vibhu & Me

So, basically, these 18 spices are first dry-roasted and then made a powder using mortar and pestle. It is recommended that spices should be ground slowly. Else they release their heat in one shot and lack their taste and aroma. Quantitywise, the following proportion I found while reading different posts:
I have never made this curry myself. But this post really inspired me to try it soon. I found a few good recipe videos on YouTube. You can watch the video below for the veg Xacuti curry:

How to buy
As Xacuti is a Goan dish, the readymade spice mix may not be available everywhere in stores. But it can be ordered online. And if you wish, you can make the spice mix at home using the spices I mentioned in the post.
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  1. Some spice this....18 spices!!!! What a flavour kick this would provide!

  2. This is certainly one of the most popular Goan recipes like the Vindaloo and Sorpotel. Thank you for sharing this :)

    All the best for the rest of the Challenge. Do drop by mine.



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