For the following weeks I am going to be researching the history of food in India. I want to look at the vast scope of diets across India, often to do with availability and / or religion. For instance, in the religious faith of Hinduism the cow is worshipped and therefore beef is strictly prohibited. High up in the north of India in Muslim states, such as Srinagar, pork isn’t available. In the south of India, where the majority of the people are Christians, beef and pork are on the menu. The ingredient found in the south that I am particularly fascinated by is the Goan sausage.
The History of the Goan Sausage
Some could call it an early ‘food fusion’ between India and Portugal (before it was a la mode!) The Portuguese arrived on India’s West coast in 1498.
Many ingredients were introduced into India in the holds of Portuguese ships such as chillies, coriander, potatoes, tomatoes, cashews, aubergines, and pumpkins.
Inspired by chorizo, Goan sausage was welcomed on the Christian Goan shores. Cured sausages were perfect, at this time, as they could keep for up to 6 months. This was ideal for the sailors on the trade routes at sea. During the monsoon, when fish were harder to come by, pork offered an alternative source of protein.
Making Goan Sausage
In ‘The Art of making Goan Sausages’ I learnt that ‘the meat in the sausage is cured using a combination of Saltpetre or Potassium nitrate common salt. The saltpetre decomposes into nitric oxide, which inhibits growth of bacteria and other harmful organisms. Goan sausages are spiced with cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, turmeric, ginger, garlic and Goan vinegar. They are smoked by burning grass below and then dried in hot sun.’
I have tried a different type of Goan sausage dish every day whilst being here for the last four days. The Goan sausage is best described as being similar to the Portuguese chorizo.
Goan Sausage Pao – Crumbled Goan sausage, in a burger-type bun with sweet sliced red onions. Perhaps more suited for a night snack after a few Kingfisher beers.
The Dunes, Mandrem, Goa
Goan Sausage Pulao – Fried rice with small pieces of Goan sausage mixed through with whole cardamom pods, cinnamon sticks, star anise and bay leaves. A heady mixture of strong spices that sung out, enhancing the plain rice and matching the strong flavour of the sausage. The huge mound of it that arrived at the table was devoured instantly.
Sea Creek, Ashvem, Goa
Goan Pork Sausage Chilli Fry – A stir-fry with potatoes, red onions and green chillies. Perhaps eaten with a chapati or naan bread. The chunks of potato were cooked so that they still had some bite. The potatoes had turned a golden orange because of the juices released from the sausage whilst frying.
Molly’s Nest, Mandrem, Goa
Goan Sausage Pizza- What is says on the tin! Deliciously prepared in a wood fired oven, the mixture of mozzarella and crumbled sausage was the perfect combination.
Roma, Ashvem Beach, Goa
I have found one recipe online which teaches you how to make and cure your own Goan sausage over four days, which I have put below. However from experience, if you want to buy them to use as an ingredient, the link below offers very high quality products.
by Crescentia and Chris Fernandes who own Bernardo’s Goan Restaurant in Gurgaon, Delhi.
1kg Pork Meat (shoulder)
90g Sea Salt
30 Dried Red Chillies
6 1inch Pieces of Cinnamon
30g Ginger/ Garlic Paste
90ml Goan Vinegar
5g Salt Petre (Sodium Nitrate)
3 Metres of Sausage Casing
The pork used must be fatty. Wash it well and drain the pieces of pork.
Add two handfuls of sea salt. Mix it well in a plastic or wooden colander (not metal). Put a plate to cover the meat and put a weight on top so that all the liquid drains out below.
In a blender make the masala. Put chillies, cumin, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, turmeric (which helps to preserve it), and ginger garlic paste into the blender. Add the vinegar to make a smooth spice paste.
Add salt petre to the pork and mix well.
Pour over the spice paste and mix well.
Marinate overnight or for a couple of days in the fridge. (You can use the meat just like this stored in a jar, or smoke the meat for a better flavour)
Fill the sausage casings with the pork mix using a funnel and a cutlery knife to push the meat down. Tie the casings at each end.
Two days later – smoke the sausages. Light a pile of damp leaves and grass on fire outside. Hang the sausages above so that they are consumed by the smoke coming from the leaves. You can cover the sausages so that they are properly smoked.
Sun dry the sausages on a washing line in the hot Indian sun for a day.
They are now ready to be cooked.
Fry without oil, the sausage will release its own red delicious oil that will flavour ingredients added to the pan or soak into large chunks of white bread.
I worked at the fantastic Indian small plate and cocktail bar restaurant called Kricket this year.
The inspirational head chef there, Will Bowlby, used Goan sausage in one of the lunch favourites. This is one of the dishes I learnt to make.
Goan Sausage Roll with Pachadi Mayo, Pickled Red Onion and Mustard Seeds.