My interest in food and cooking is known to most of my friends, family, and colleagues, and even students. Towards the end of the term I bring some food, usually home-cooked, to the class on a day when informal interactions are scheduled. It is a pleasant way to conclude the semester.
Some students stay in touch after they graduate. Some come and visit and we exchange notes as colleagues. A special mention here is Ryan, who remembers to bring me foodie-things from his travels around the country; many times these are ingredients sourced from where they are grown (or brewed!). Amongst the many gifts I have received from him are coffee from a Chikmagalur plantation, his aunt’s home-brewed plum wine, his mom’s fruitcake, Shrewsbury biscuits and ginger cookies from the famous Kayani bakery in Pune, toddy from Kerala, and Mahuwa (the drink!) from Madhya Pradesh. Recently he brought me dried kokum and kokum syrup on his return from a visit to the Konkan. He seems to be partial to the western coast; perhaps because of his ethnic roots. Back from one such visit to the coast last year, he brought me a packet of Goan pork sausage. Until then I had only read about it.
Remember I asked all of you to suggest recipes? Raji had suggested I use it in a pulao, and Ryan shared a recipe for a curry cooked with the sausage and potatoes. The Goan Chouriço, also known as linguica, is an important element in the Portuguese-influenced Goan Catholic cuisine. Though often identified as a sausage, it is made with chopped pork instead of ground meat and cannot be consumed uncooked. The prepared pork is combined with spices and vinegar, stuffed into cleaned cattle gut, and usually dried in the sun. The resulting aged meat imparts a unique taste and aroma to whatever it is cooked with.
Once a much cherished family activity, few home-cooks today embrace the practice of chouriço making. It can be bought off-the-shelf (in Bombay, Goa, and Pune) or through inside information of the few home-based practitioners that remain in Goa. Here’s a recipe (with feni!) in case you want to try your hand at it. Since it was my first time handling Goan Chouriço, I was surprised at how lumpy and unlike any other sausage the meat was once you ripped the outer skin to get to it. It’s different but don’t let that discourage you.
First, I tried it in a pulao. I started with browning some sliced onions in hot oil. To this I added the crumbled chouriço and sauteed that for a bit. Then I stirred in the soaked and drained rice, salt and water. Once it started to boil, I lowered the heat to a simmer, covered and cooked till the rice was done. I let it stand for 20 minutes before fluffing up and mixing in a chopped green pepper. I allowed it to sit for some more time so that the peppers would heat through before finally serving it. Cooked this way I found the pork chewy and dry, but it did impart a unique flavour to the rice.
My preferred recipe was the chouriço and potato curry. Braised like this the meat bits were tender. Salt and season lightly when using Goan chouriço because it is well seasoned and spicy hot. I added some salt to the dish while cooking since I was combining the meat with potatoes but used chilli sparingly.
6″ length of Goan chouriço
2 medium sized potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and diced
2 medium sized onions, chopped (about 3/4 C)
1 t ginger-garlic paste
1 t coriander powder
1/2 t cumin powder
1/2 t turmeric
1/2 t red chilli powder (optional)
2 t vinegar (optional)
2T peanut oil
salt (remember that the sausage is salted)
Saute onions in hot oil till lightly browned. Add the ginger-garlic past and fry till the raw smell is gone. Add all the powdered spices and give a good stir. Add the meat, potatoes and two cups of water. Stir. Add salt and the vinegar (if you want it extra tart). Cover and simmer till the meat is tender and the potatoes are done. Stir a couple of times during the cooking process to keep the curry from sticking; top up with more water as needed to give you a thick curry. Serve with steamed rice accompanied by a plain dal (such as this one) or dahi (plain yoghurt).