After my hot air balloon ride, I got to experience yet another bucket list activity in India as we visited a spice plantation in Goa and got an authentic cooking class. It was another one of my favourite things to do in Goa and I can recommend you visiting as well.
In this post, I’d love to tell you all about it!
What we'll cover in this article
VISIT A SPICE PLANTATION IN GOA, INDIA
Our guide Gauri, who lives and works at the Tanshikar’s Spice farm (located in the Netravali village in the rain forest of the Western Ghats), took us on a short walking tour along all of the spices and told us all about their history and uses.
Afterwards, she took us to her kitchen, where we got a cooking class and learned all about making vegetarian Goan dhal, sprouted moong bean gravy and the best way to make and bake a chapatti.
The Spice Plantation
I found it hard to recognize most of the spices, except perhaps vanilla and pepper, it really shows how much we take our food for granted these days! Some spices even had side-effects that I didn’t know about, such as nutmeg, which apparently works as a hallucinogen when consumed in large quantities. Also the ‘beetle nut’ words addictive and many people in India chew on it for this reason.
Another thing I learned during the tour, is that some spices grow on the same tree! For example, around the nutmeg, you can find ‘mace’, which is used in Garam Masala. The Indian bay leave grows on the cinnamon plant.
Some more surprises for me were that the coffee bean is white on the tree and only colours and tastes after roasting, that white pepper is actually fermented black pepper and the fact that cardamom grows on the roots of a plant!
When Gauri told us how vanilla usually only grows in Madagascar, as the hummingbird is the only animal with a beak thin and long enough to pollinate the flower, I also understood why some spices are just more expensive then others as well. They have to do this pollination process all by hand here.
pepper and cocoa
spoiler alert: the forest was full of these massive crawlers. eep!
The Bubble Lake
Next to the farm, we got shown “bubble lake” (Budbudyanchi Tali). Apparently, it is a sacred tank of bubbles attached to the Gopinath temple and there are various legends regarding the origin of these bubbles, saying they are a miracle due to a local deity.
Scientists say, however, that the bubbles could be caused by sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, limestone or methane.
You can believe whatever you want, but either way… when I was there I didn’t see any bubbles to begin with, so there you go. haha.
Gauri then shows us her pet-bees, followed by a tour of her house, where she got assistance of her cute little daughter.
It was amazing to see how people live on the farm and the fun thing was that Gauri told us the floors were made of mud! Apparently, this works as a shock absorber, so when she dropped a glass bottle on the floor (on purpose), it simply bounced back. Wow!
The Cooking Class
Then it was time to whip up a lovely meal. But don’t be fooled, especially making the chapatti was actually quite hard to do!
Almost none of us got it as round as this :)
Clearly, this is not my calling. But still fun to do!!
At the end of the tour, we got to enjoy our food and pay a short visit to the shop, where I scored some authentic spices to take home, most of them not even 50p per bag!
Make sure to go for the coco shake with coconut milk. Simply amazing!
Go for the shake… or just drink from a coconut, whatever you like!
This tour was one of the best experiences I’ve had on my travels, especially when it comes to food. You learn a lot, Gauri is a great tour with perfect English and the cooking class was just a lot of fun. It can be quite a ride to get to this farm, but if you have some time, I would make sure to pay a visit!
Fun for: Everyone who enjoys food and likes to know more about what they’re eating. Also perfect for vegetarians and kids!
Less fun for: People who only have a very short time in Goa, I suppose (but I would still try to fit it in regardless)
Think about: Bring proper shoes for the (short) walk through the forest, look out for spiders (Gauri will warn you -and they don’t really do anything, just sit there) and bring a good appetite!!
BOOK YOUR OWN SPICE PLANTATION TOUR!
Company: Tanshikar’s Spice Farm (website)
Tour: Spice Farm Visit & Cooking Class (website)
Duration: A couple of hours (but take the whole day for this, from Panjim, it’s at least 2H by car one way)
Start& End of Tour: The Farm is located near Smriti Yoga, Netravali, Sanguem, Goa 403704, India
Costs: Not quite sure as it was part of our trip, so I’d contact the farm (see their website) and ask for specifics! You also have the option to stay longer in the farm’s ecological guest house, so make sure to check this option out.
Disclaimer: I got to visit this spice farm as part of the #Escape2Goa Blogger Campaign, organised by LeaveURMark and the Goa Tourism Board. All opinions and photos in this article are 100% my own.
This post is also available in: Dutch