Christabel’s Bolinhas


  • 1 1/2 cups semolina
  • 2 cups grated coconut (grind in 1/4 cup water)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp clarified butter
  • 1/4 tsp cardamon


Make a syrup of sugar in 1/3 cup water, then add ground coconut and clarified butter. Mix well then add the semolina and cardamon.  Mix again and let cool.  To the cooled mixture add in the egg yolks, mix well, then let sit overnight. Make into balls, and put on pre-greased tray. Bake on greased tray in preheated oven for 30 min at 350.

Note that there is something in the middle of each bolinha to take it up a notch. What can you do to give this sweet your personal touch?.



Sweet Potato Pie


  • 1 pound sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ginger (crushed or powdered) to taste
  • 1 9 inch unbaked pie crust



Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato, and remove the skin. You can easily soften the butter using a microwave.  I do so in 10 second bursts and you may need to do so differently based on the power of your microwave.

Break apart the sweet potato in a bowl. Add butter, and mash it together well. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, crushed ginger/ginger powder, and vanilla. Beat until mixture is smooth using a mixer. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.  Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes (preheated oven), or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Do not get alarmed. The pie will puff up like a souffle, and then will sink down as it cools.

As usual the recipe can easily be modified to suit your tastes. To me that’s the fun of it.  Taking something and making it your own. The potato is sweet enough not to add sugar.  This time I removed all the white sugar and added a tablespoon of honey. I use ginger to give it some zing.  The pie is nice without it too.  Oh, I added some liqueurs to muddle the flavors a bit, while still ensuring the “sweet potato” came through.

Eggless Mango Chocolate Marble Cake

This cake was made for my aunt’s birthday dinner by my cousin and I.  It came out really well, nice and light and compact.  The brown and yellow swirls provide a nice contrast, the nuts texture… A perfect recipe to share.


All Purpose flour –  2 cups
Baking powder – 1 and 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Sugar – 3/4 cup
Oil – 5 tbsp
Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
Cocoa powder (unsweetened) – 1/4 cup ( dissolved in 2/3 tbsp of warm water)
Mango Pulp – 1 cup ( If you use fresh mango pulp you probably should pass through strainer to eliminate fibers)
Milk – 1/4 cup
Buttermilk / Yoghurt  – 1/4 cup
Chopped nuts – 1/3 cup

Method :

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar & oil then to this add mango pulp, milk, yogurt, vanilla, buttermilk and mix well.
  • In another small bowl, combine the dry ingredients of flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt.
  • Add the dry ingredient mixture to wet, mixing well.
  • In a small bowl combine cocoa powder and warm water to make a paste.
  • Transfer half the mango batter to another bowl, add cocoa paste, mix well.
  • Grease and line a pan with parchment paper.  Alternatively you can grease a 8 /2 inch square non-stick baking pan well, and flour it, which we did.
  •  There are a variety of methods to get the marbling effect.  We dropped the plain mango and mango chocolate batter alternatively in a checker board pattern for the first layer.  For the second we placed the tbsp. of mango batter on cocoa batter and a tbsp of cocoa batter on mango batter.  Complete rest of the batter alternating the batters to make a checker patter. Then make a swirl. For the swirl, you can draw a vertical line from left to right, next line right to left an inch apart from the previous one and then left to right again, an inch part from the previous line. You get the idea. Similarly draw horizontal lines top to bottom, bottom to top, top to bottom an inch apart from each line. Then tap baking pan to level the batter.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until you put in a toothpick and it comes out cleanly.

Notes :

We didn’t use vanilla essence and it came out well.  The nuts were our choice and not included in the original recipe.

Sausage Empadas

Whether they are called empadinhas, empadas, or empanadas these pastry pockets make a delicious and easy appetizer.  This is a great recipe as it does not have sugar which many other empada dough recipes have.  We also used salted butter instead of 4.5 tsp of salt which the recipe calls for.


  • 6 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup chilled water
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsps vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cup amul butter (salted and cut into cubes)

Mix together the butter and flour until crumbly.  Mix together the wet ingredients.  Add wet to dry and combine.  Final dough should be shaggy.  Put on dusted flour surface and form into flat rectangle and wrap in cling wrap.  Chill in fridge for at least an hour.


  • 2 packets of Goan sausage
  • 8 small onions chopped

Fry onions in the oil of the sausage, and then add chopped sausage and simmer for a little while so well mixed.  let cool. The empada dough and filling can be combined in different ways.  You can use small cup cake molds, roll out two small dough circles, with the first one folded into the mold and the second covering the top.  Another option is to put a teaspoon of filling on one circle, wet the edges with wet flour paste, then place the second dough circle on top.  Press around the edges with a fork to get a fancy edge.  A third idea?  Roll out dough, add filling, then place another piece of rolled dough on top,  Roll with rolling pin and use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes of your choosing.  You can see how diamond flats and rounds with the fancy edges look from the featured image. Brush with egg yolk before baking to give a golden brown final look. Bake empadas in oven at 200 degrees centigrade until tops are golden brown.  Tap to confirm it is baked.

Notes:  You can use a wide variety of fillings, even veg if that is your fancy.  This time my cousin Preeti and I made 26 small empada cups, 6 empada rounds, 18 empada diaond shapes flats, as well as additional dough remnants that we baked to satisfy those who wanted a taste.

Chicken Lollipops

A fun chicken wing appetizer, an Indian Chinese cuisine starter.  Apparently Hakka Chinese immigrants to India settled in the Calcuta/Kolkota area and adapted Chinese seasonings and cooking techniques to Indian tastes.   For instance, in Goa it is common to see Hakka noodles, sweet corn soup, and more on menus. (Looking at Chinese cuisine fusion beyond India I found this interesting TED talk that you might enjoy.)

One can make chicken lollipops using thighs, drumsticks, or wings.  I prefer wings myself, using two of the three parts of each the wing. I do not waste the unwanted tip, simply marinating in the same marinade, dipping in rava and baking to make crispy bites, an additional dish.

A kilo of chicken wings is about 18 wings, making 36  lollipops, plus 18 crispy bites.  The following recipe is for 2 kg wings and is for those who are happy winging it.  It makes lollipops that are lightly spiced.

Butchering the chicken wings to make the lollipops:Sometimes it is easier to watch something being done, rather than explaining the steps involved, so check out video one from 1:36 to 3:15 minutes, and video two.

Lollipop marinade:  Combine 2 tbsp crushed ginger garlic, 9 tbsp of yogurt, 4 tsp of chili powder, 1 tsp of cumin powder, 1 tsp of coriander powder, 2 tsp chaat powder, 2 tsp tandoori powder, 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 2 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp lime.

Add lollipops to marinade and let marinate for a few hours.  Put in oven and bake until you observe them crisp.  Wrap the stick end in foil makes it easy for your guests to pick and nibble.  You can serve on a plate garnished with shredded green cabbage or chopped green onions to make a feast for the eyes.  Great served hot with lime wedges, and a dipping sauce of your choice.

Chunky Fresh Mango Cake

Mangos are plentiful now in Goa, and so the idea of mango cake came up.  My cousin Preeti and I found this recipe on the web and made it.  It turned out really well, serving 8.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 egg
  • 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped peeled mango
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashew nuts


  1. In a small bowl, beat the sugar, oil and egg until well blended. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; gradually beat into sugar mixture and mix well. Fold in mango and cashew nuts.
  2. Transfer to a greased 6-in. round baking pan. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes – If you use fibrous mango you should sieve the pulp first before using otherwise you will get mango fibers in the final cake.  The original recipe from the taste of home website used pecans, but we used what we had, cashew nuts.  Do not hesitate to experiment with the recipe, using alternatives such as a different oil if you do not have canola.  You could add additional spices, or raisins.  Your options are only limited by your imagination.

Rava Upmaa


  • 1 cup coarse semolina/sooji/rava (roasted lightly)
  • 1 very large onion
  • 1 green chili
  • 1 cup of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • salt to taste
  • 1 ½ cups of hot water
  • 2 tbsps Ghee/oil (Ghee gives a great flavor, coconut oil is also great)
  • Several curry leaves
  • 1 tsp ginger powder


  • Finely chop onion and green chili
  • In heated oil drop mustard seeds and curry leaves, then add chopped onion and chili. Once onions are sauteed and reduced a bit, add ginger powder and after a few minutes the diced tomatoes. Next add the semolina and hot water, mix and set aside in closed container.
  • It is easy to do variations with upmaa. The simplest upmaa you can make is without onions and tomatoes. Then anything you add makes it different.  To the above recipe I added some chopped cilantro and cashew nuts to give it just a little bit more. The end result is what you see as the feature image for this post. Have fun playing around with ingredients you like to make your own rava upmaa!

Pork Tofu Fry

pork – 1/2lb
well pressed and extra firm tofu – 1/2 lb
red onion – 1/4
red pepper – 1/4
cashew halves – handful
shiitake mushrooms – large handful
crushed red peppers – to taste
lack pepper – to taste
soy sauce – 2 tbsp
garlic – 4 cloves crushed
ginger – 1/2 tsp
Olive oil – 2 tbsps
sesame oil – 1 tsp

Slice red pepper, red onion, shiitake mushrooms, tofu, and pork into long strips. Make a marinade of 2 crushed garlic cloves, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1/4 tsp ginger and a little freshly ground black pepper and crusher red pepper.  Toss tofu in marinade and let marinate for 15 or so minutes. Heat olive oil in a pan to medium heat and add pork, ginger, and garlic.  When pork is browned – about 2 min – add all the other ingredients and and cook for another 8 minutes.

The end product can be seen in the featured image at the top of this post.

Variations: Sometimes I use scallions instead of red onions, or cremini rather than shiitake mushrooms. Cremini mushrooms are cheaper than shiitake so if cost is a factor than that is the way to go. Note that you can substitute pork for the tofu for an all pork dish, or the other way around to make it work for vegetarians, though with the latter you may need to add other stuff to give the dish enough flavor. Plain tofu is often described as bland though it has a subtle flavor of its own, so if you are making the vegetarian dish take this into account.


The Juiced Carrot Cake

Today some unique ingredients and processes, so do not miss out on the fun. Cooking a la casa de Virgilio is always about adventure and using what you have to make great tasting food. And the cake turned out great, so follow along below and enjoy a taste from my home to yours. If you do not understand “juiced carrot” or any other tid bits you can go to the end of this post for an explanation, but I figured many of you might just want to get along with the baking.

And do not worry – I have provided the more conventional alternatives and equivalents so you can choose to be adventurous like me, do the conventional thing and ignore ideas like “juiced carrots”, or take the road between – the choice is yours.


  • all purpose flour – 2 cups
  • baking powder – 2 tsp
  • baking soda – 2 tsp
  • salt – 1/2 tsp
  • ground cinnamon – 2 tsp (almost all recipes call for 3 tsp – I am not a cinnamon fan)
  • ginger powder – 1/2 tsp (I like ginger, most other recipes don’t have this)
  • nutmeg – 1/2 tsp
  • eggs – 5 (most recipes use large eggs. I use medium -smaller so I use 5 instead of 4)
  • oil – 1 1/8 cups (recipe called for 1 1/4 cups and I missed that – oops)
  • juiced carrots – 1 1/2 lb (1 lb shredded carrots = 2 cups and we need 3 cups of grated carrots)
  • confectionery sugar – 1 cup (didn’t have 1 cup of granulated white sugar)
  • packed brown sugar – 1 cup
  • chopped cashew nuts – 1/2 cup (recipe called for 1 cup of walnuts or pecans)
  • soaked raisins – 1/4 cup (recipe called for 1 cup, and said nothing about soaking – I soaked in a mix of swiss chocolate syrup, Afri Koko liquor  and cashew feni. for 12 hours)
  • chopped blanched almond slivers – large handful to serve as garnish (no recipes I found had this as they typically make/use cream frosting which I do not fancy)


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare two 9” pans or one 12” cake pan or one 9”x 13” sheet pan by lining with parchment or wax paper. In my case I used two 1.5 qt pyrex loaf pans and a 1 2/3 cup pyrex bowl. I had two potlucks so one for each, plus something for me to enjoy beforehand and make sure it passed the stomach test as it was all an experiment.
  2. Mix together in a bowl together flour,baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger.
  3. In a bigger bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, sugars, for about minute or so.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix for about 2 minutes more.
  5. Add the grated carrots. Then add nuts and raisins, and vanilla.
  6. Pour batter in prepared pans and bake for approx. 45 to 50 minutes. Then raise temp to 350 and do it for another 10 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a skewer, it should be dry when taken out, or just barely touching to have something a touch more moist. (Original recipe suggested just 40-50 minutes at 325 but I discovered it was too wet at the 45 minute mark, and so adjusted accordingly.)

A slice of my moist juiced carrot cake is the featured picture for this post.

Variations (Yes More Variations): I always say that any flavor ingredients like powders of nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, clove, ginger, allspice, chili, black pepper are fair game and can be added and subtracted according to mood. Any nuts suggested can be substituted for a different kind. Raisins can be switched with dates, currants… Soak your dried fruit in different marinades of liquor, hard liquor… and you add to the list of choices. Naturally I keep in mind what is the main product that I drew my initial inspiration from and who is going to consume the end result. For the potlucks I was not very adventurous.

Part of my creative process and what exactly is “juiced carrot”:
I had a lot of extra carrots that I was taking a little too long to consume and with a couple potlucks coming up I thought that some dessert was the perfect solution. And what is easier than cake? So, carrot cake it was. Now, that was what I initially thought… I searched the net and all the cake recipes that I found asked for grated carrots! Now this was supposed to be easy and I couldn’t see it being easy to spend all that time grating cups of carrots. So, I looked around and saw the juicer. Why not use the juicer using the coarsest setting and the right extruder nozzle? At the end I could simply recombine liquid and pulp. Further internet research gave the right equivalents so I could also just weight the “juiced” carrots and know I had the right amount. Easy Peasy.



Quinoa Chickpea Salad – A Cooling Delight for a Hot Day!

Quinoa a super seed? But I thought it was a grain! I use it just like rice, barley…

While technically a seed, quinoa is identified synonymously with whole grains because it is used just like one.  It is a “super grain” as it is a complete protein source, containing even the essential amino acid lysine that other grains do not have.   This also makes makes quinoa perfect for vegetarians and anyone who wishes to reduce their meat consumption. To learn more about this “special grain” check out  the world’s healthiest foods web site.

I often will make a large pot of quinoa and over the next couple days enjoy it with grilled vegetables, braised meat, curry, or even as part of a salad.  Here’s a recipe for quinoa salad that I made recently.  It is perfect for lunch on a warm day.

Quinoa Chickpea Salad

quinoa (cooked and cooled) – 1.5 cups
red pepper – 1/4
red onion – 1/4
chick peas – 3/4 cup
olive oil – 1 tbsp
lime – 1/2
black pepper – 1/2 tsp

Chop red onion and red pepper into small cubes, and add with chick peas to quinoa.  Mix together lime,olive oil  and black pepper to make salad dressing and pour on salad ingredients.  Fork mix everything and serve cold.  Note this is a lightly spice salad.  Add more dressing or some sea salt if your taste buds ask for it.

Directions for cooking quinoa: Cooking and cooling quinoa is the most time consuming part in the entire salad creation process so do it in advance like I do.  The dried quinoa seed itself keeps really well if stored properly, easily lasting a couple years – no excuse for running out of quinoa!. And when you cook it you get about 3 cups of cooked quinoa for 1 cup of dried quinoa seed. The cooked quinoa can keep in the fridge about a week.
To cook quinoa start with a pre-soak in cold water for around 5 min (can do it for longer – I’ve done up to an hour with no issues.) and rinse vigorously under cold running water using a fine mesh strainer.  Rub the quinoa grains against the mesh as your rinse to aid in the removal of saponin, quinoa’s outer coating that can taste bitter/soapy.  Transfer the rinsed quinoa to a pot, add a little olive oil, and water in the ratio of 1;2 quinoa:water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer for about ten minutes. Turn off the heat, close pot completely and let it sit for another 5 minutes. Open pot and fluff quinoa with a fork. (You should see tiny spirals (the germ) separating from and curling around the quinoa seeds.)

Variations:  Add items like chopped kalamata olives and feta cheese.  Sometimes I use scallions instead of red onions. You could also change the ratio of chick peas to quinoa, or add corn, peas, and carrots.  You can check out food and wine, also, for some other quinoa salad recipes.