A MEAT DISH TO END ALL MEAT DISHES? SORPOTEL, WHAT ELSE
In a world of vegan and gluten-free devotees, I’m of a different breed – a staunch non-vegetarian! I firmly believe no meal can be considered complete without a dish of spicy meat. Within the meat superset, I’m not very picky; chicken, mutton, pork all have their own charm. I consider myself a connoisseur of carnivorous fare, and perhaps the one dish that I favour over all others is the deliciously tangy and spicy pork dish, sorpotel. I got a taste of this immensely complex delicacy on my very first trip to Goa. One morning saw me and my friends stop by the famous Souza Lobo’s at Baga beach, slightly hungover and very hungry. Our breakfast spread included perfectly-made eggs, sausages, beans, sorpotel, and hot tea. This meal was epic in that it introduced me to what would become my absolute favourite meat preparation. From that breakfast to every Goan wedding I’ve been invited to, my love affair with sorpotel has been nothing short of legendary, with only ups and no downs.
A Sinful Treat
Made of offal and blood (yup, you read that right), I’d be a vampire for sorpotel any day. In the Goan version of this famous dish, offal like liver, blood, and the heart are rendered to dissolve the fat, and create a dish that is tangy and hot, but not like the vindaloo. Other than the fatty bits of pork, ingredients that contribute to making this dish are red chillies, vinegar, and an occasional splash of rum or the locally-made cashew nut brew, feni (instead of pig’s blood).
Tracing sorpotel’s origins
Goans will love to tell you that the sorpotel is a Portuguese dish that derives its name from the word for ‘alcohol’ i.e. ‘soro’. However, take this declaration with a pinch of salt. Sorpotel did not start its journey in Portuguese kitchens but in Brazilian ones. Originally known as ‘sarapatel’, the name means ‘confusion’ or ‘chaos’ which alludes to all the strange bits of pork that were used to make it. African cooks in Brazil invented the dish to feed the throng of workers who toiled in the fields. The Portuguese were well-known seafarers and explorers, who stopped by uncharted countries for centuries, thanks to their maritime expertise. Aside from adding to their coffers, they also added a number of culinary treats to their lore while traveling.
From Bahia in Brazil, and Mozambique in southern Africa, Timor-Leste in Asia, Macau in China and, of course, Goa in India, the Portuguese travelled and carried their recipes and culinary wisdom everywhere. The best part about this is that it allowed the Goans to make the Portuguese version of a Brazilian dish their very own. One of the primary reasons for the Portuguese seafarers to love sorpotel was that the dish keeps for a long time, and gets better as it goes—an important factor for men stuck at sea. In the words of Portuguese-American food writer David Leite, “Five hundred years ago, Portugal discovered the world, and now the world is returning the favour.” Goa returns the favour by enhancing the sorpotel to perfection. Never tried this exotic dish? Head to Souza Lobo, The Mango Grove at Candolim that serves traditional sorpotel slow cooked over four days! Bloody good.
How to Get There:
Where: Calangute Beach, Calangute, Goa
Contact: 0832 2276463 | 0832 2281234
Timings: All Days 11:30 AM to 11:30 PM
Cost: ₹1,300 for two people
The Mango Grove
Where: Near Newton’s Super Market, Candolim, Goa
Contact: +91 9823269376
Timings: All Days 9 AM to 12 Midnight
Cost: ₹600 for two people