There are two reasons why I had to put down this recipe. It’s Goan; I’m Goan.
Naturally, Goan food tops the list of my favourite foods and that it is chiefly non-vegetarian makes it even worthier. 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 Goan Sorpotel, a common pork gravy which has its origins in Portuguese cuisine.
The recipe is borrowed from Helen Ferraz who is a first-rate cook, and head of her kitchen. Everyone knows how invaluable hand-me-down recipes are, especially those traditionally inherited from ancestors.
1.5 cups oil (vegetable or olive or rice bran oil)
1.5kg to 2 kg pork leg
250 to 300 gm pork heart
350gm pork liver
4 to 6 brown onions (medium-sized onions, finely chopped)
3 tbsp sugar
Salt to taste
1 to 2 cups vinegar (Datu-puti cane vinegar, cider vinegar, apple cider vinegar, ideally Goan vinegar if available)
SPICES (to grind to a paste/”masala” with 1 cup vinegar, no water):
4 to 5 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
10 to 12 flakes garlic
2-inch piece of ginger
3 tsp cumin seeds
6 to 8 cardamoms
12 to 14 peppercorns
2 to 3 two-inch cinnamon sticks
1.5 tsp turmeric powder
1 green chilli
A ball of tamarind (golf ball-sized)
Clean and cut the pork meat in large chunks of say 250gm sizes.
Boil the pork, including the pork heart and liver in a crockpot with say 3 cups of water and minimal salt.
When cooked, cool the meat, then chop it into peanut size pieces. The chopping will seem to take forever, but I beg you to exercise patience.
In a non-stick pan, heat some oil and fry the chopped pork meat, heart and liver in small batches until the meat turns a light brown.
Leave the fried meat and the remaining boiled (pork meat) water aside, separately of course.
Heat oil in a large non-stick crockpot, saute the finely chopped onions till a golden brown.
Add the ground spice paste (or “masala”).
Then fry well again, on low-medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes.
Drop in the fried pork meat pieces and mix well for 5 to 8 minutes, till it absorbs the masala.
Then add 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 (or non-stick / stoneware).
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 it is stored, the better the taste.
WHAT IS IT LIKE:
Sorpotel is ideally eaten three to four days after preparation as it allows the vinegar and the spices time to sink into the dish and release its delicious flavours. Sorpotel goes well with roti/chapatis, steamed rice, or Goan “sannas” made with local toddy and coconut. I have a fondness, nay a devotion to “sannas” which is to me like manna from heaven!
Remember to embark on cooking the dish only if you have substantial time and immense patience.
Is 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 it with rice buns or boiled rice and tell me what you think.