There are two reasons why I had to put down this Goan pork sorpotel recipe. It’s Goan; I’m Goan.
Naturally, Goan food tops the list of my favourite foods and that it is a hard core non-vegetarian dish makes it even worthier to me. Who doesn’t know the fondness of the local Goan for meaty or fishy fare! The dish whose recipe will shortly unfold before you will yield a finger-licking foodgasm, of a potpourri of ingredients. The name of the dish is none other than Goan Pork Sorpotel, a common Goan pork gravy which has its origins in Portuguese cuisine.
The recipe is a come-down from Helen Ferraz who is a first-rate cook, and my sister’s mother-in-law. Everyone knows how invaluable hand-me-down recipes are, especially those traditionally inherited from mothers, mothers-in-law and ancestors.
Goan Pork Sorpotel Recipe
- 2 large crockpots (1 for boiling the pork, and 1 for cooking the dish)
- Meat cleaver (for chopping the pork into small cubes) - mine is a Cartini brand
- 1.5 cups refined oil
- 1.5-2 kg pork meat (first boiled in large chunks, then chopped into 1cm sized cubes)
- 250-300 gms pork heart (first boiled in large chunks, then chopped into 1cm sized cubes)
- 350 gms pork liver (first boiled in large chunks, then chopped into 1cm sized cubes)
- 4-6 medium-sized brown onions (finely chopped)
- 3 tbsp sugar
- salt (to taste)
Spices for Pork Sorpotel (to grind the ”masala” with vinegar, no water)
- 4-5 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 10-12 flakes garlic
- 2 inch piece ginger
- 3 tsp cumin seeds
- 8 cloves
- 6-8 cardamoms
- 12-14 peppercorns
- 2-3 inch cinnamon sticks
- 1.5 tbsp turmeric powder
- 1 green chilli
- A ball tamarind (golf ball-sized)
- 1-2 cups vinegar (Datu-puti cane vinegar, cider vinegar, apple cider vinegar, ideally Goan vinegar if available)
Preparation of the Pork Sorpotel
- Clean and chop the pork meat into say 200 gm chunks. Use a meat cleaver for chopping, if available.
- Boil the pork chunks, including the pork heart and liver in a crockpot with say 3 cups of water and minimal salt.
- When cooked, cool the meat before chopping it into 1cm sized pieces. The chopping will seem to take forever, but great patience is required in the exercise.
- In a non-stick wok, heat some oil and fry the chopped pork meat, chopped heart and chopped liver in small batches - and separately - until the meat turns a light brown.
- Leave the fried meat and the remaining boiled (pork meat) water aside, separately of course.
- Grind the "spice or masala" ingredients with 1 cup vinegar. Grind to a fine paste, and ensuring that no water is added while grinding.
- Heat oil in a large non-stick crockpot, saute the finely chopped onions till a golden brown.
- Now add the ground spice paste (or the ground “masala”).
- Fry well again, on low-medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes.
- Drop in the fried pork meat pieces and nicely mix for 5 to 8 minutes, till the masala is well ensconced in the meat.
- Pour the remaining (boiled pork) water, sugar and salt to suit your taste. Let simmer for, say 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to avoid the masala sticking to the bottom of the crockpot.
- Add vinegar and half a cup of water if necessary. Be mindful of adjusting the vinegar-water content, keep stirring till the gravy thickens.
- Turn off the heat. Let cool & refrigerate. The longer the pork sorpotel is stored, the better the taste.
Remember to embark on cooking this sorpotel dish only if you have substantial time and immense patience.
Goa is a land of beauty and leisure, of relaxed locals who have time for elaborate cooking processes as evident from most of its tradtional fare. Pork sorpotel recipes are time-consuming and need immense patience from the chopping to the frying.
Is authentic Goan sorpotel spicy, or sweet? Is it sour or hot? Is it a gravy or a mish-mash? Well, try a helping of the gruel and gorge on this pork sorpotel with rice buns or boiled rice and tell me what you think.