Goan Caldeirada is a delicious coastal seafood stew with distinct Portuguese origins. Seafood plays a very important role in Goan cuisine and this dish is a fantastic representation of all things “Goan”.
I like to “mix it up” a bit with this dish – basically meaning, I like a variety of seafood in my stew. So feel free to use your favorite firm fish, shrimp/prawns or shellfish in this recipe. Just make sure all your seafood is as fresh as can be. I love to use whatever is available locally and seasonally.
GOAN CALDEIRADA (Spicy Goan Seafood Stew)
2 lbs of fresh seafood – fish fillets, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels…
1 large onion, roughly chopped
3-4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1½” piece of ginger, roughly chopped
½ cup freshly grated coconut (or you can use unsweetened desiccated coconut)
3-4 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (to taste)
1 bay leaf
¼ tsp ground fennel seeds
½ turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp smoked Spanish paprika
½ tsp red chili powder
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin powder
2 tsp ground coriander powder
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp lemon zest
1 large tomato, finely chopped
juice of ½ lemon
2½-3 cups coconut milk
2-3 tbsp oil (vegetable or oil)
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
Clean, cut, trim & prepare all of your seafood as needed. The fish fillets should be firm, boneless & skinless. Cut the fish into 1½” size pieces, set aside until needed. The shrimp should be peeled & de-veined as well. Any shellfish (mussels or clams) should be thoroughly washed, scrubbed & cleaned. Also, discard any shellfish that are open and fail to close shut when lightly tapped. I always soak the shellfish for about 15-20 minutes in a large bowl filled with cool water & about 2 tbsp of all-purpose flour. This helps to get rid of any sand inside the shells. Drain well and set aside until needed.
In a large wide pot (a Dutch oven works great) on medium high heat, add about 1 tbsp or so of the oil. When hot, sauté the onions along with the garlic, ginger & grated coconut until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool slightly and then using a blender, grind into a smooth thick paste using a little water to help the process.
Now to the same pot on medium high heat, add another tbsp of oil if needed. Then carefully add the ground onion paste. Stir well and allow to cook for a few minutes before add in the green chilies, bay leaf and the spices (ground fennel, turmeric, paprika, red chili powder, garam masala, ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, salt & pepper). Stir well to combine and let the spices fry in the oil for a couple of minutes until fragrant and aromatic. Now add the tomato paste & lemon zest. Mix well and then add in chopped tomato & lemon juice. Stir to combine all of the ingredients and then add in the coconut milk. Stir, reduce the heat to low, cover and let simmer for 10-12 minutes.
If you are using shellfish, add the mussels & clams now. Cover & let cook in the stew for 5-6 minutes. They should be fully opened (discard any closed shellfish), then gently add the fish and shrimp. Cover & let look for another 5-6 minutes, the fish/shrimp should be fully cooked yet tender. Do not overcook the seafood. Finish the dish with some freshly grated nutmeg & garnish with the cilantro leaves. Serve hot with warm chapatis & fragrant Basmati rice.