We had almost reached the end of a pretty interesting meal at Gurgaon’s Farzi Café when I spotted the chorizo pulao on the menu and decided to try it out. The dish turned out to be quite a delight, with subtly flavoured rice enlivened by bursts of the chorizo. The rice was like a typical ghee-laced Indian pulao, which seemed to offer the perfect canvas for the piquant meat. I asked chef Saurabh of Farzi Café about the inspiration for his dish. He said, “Farzi Café is all about food, the way it’s never been served before, the pairing of ingredients never seen before. Pork and rice is a classic concept seen in many regional cuisines such as Cuban, Spanish, Tex-Mex, Chinese and many more, but not often in Indian cuisine. Chorizo is peppery, smoky and intense, which makes it appropriate for the Indian palate. Mixed in ghee pulao with caramelised onions and chillies, it makes a complete meal in itself.” What he said made a lot of sense, because the Spanish and Portuguese-origin, red chilli-flecked pork meat is likely to appeal to Indian palates, with its tangy and sharp tastes and flavours.
In fact, some time ago, Imbiss, the meat-focussed restaurant in Mumbai, became pretty popular for its chorizo rice served with quail eggs. Then, Mumbai’s Smoke House Deli introduced chorizo picante — chorizo tossed with cubed potatoes and caramelised onions. We always order it when we go to Smoke House, and it is a hit with whoever is with us when we go. One afternoon, the folks at the deli told us they had run out of imported chorizo, so they wanted to know if they could use local chorizo instead. It turned out that they meant Goan sausages. The dish tasted even better than usual. Goan sausages have an inherent spiciness to them, thanks to the masalas and vinegar used, which made the dish even more appealing to us.
Interestingly, while Goan sausages were available in small Goan restaurants such as the Mangalorean-owned New Martin Hotel and Snowflakes in south Mumbai, they were rarely seen in newer restaurants and cafes in the city or outside of it. There was the odd exception, such as the Goan sausage bagel, which was available in Mumbai’s Bagel Shop, but that was about it. Owner Anil Kably got the idea when a friend took him to a small smokehouse in Goa, where he was offered sausages that were being smoked on a spit to try. Kably was so impressed that he decided to introduce these in his cafe. He tempered the Goan sausage with cream cheese to make it more acceptable to his foreign clientele.
Ironically, it was a Bengaluru-based chef who brought Goan sausages into the mainstream modern restaurant before folks in Mumbai did. Chef Manu Chandra, of Monkey Bar, introduced Goan sausage pav and Goan sausage pulao, and elements of this menu he then took to Delhi and Mumbai, when he expanded his gastropub chain. Chef Chandra says that his menu is a tribute to his childhood memories, travels and the history and culture of India. He finds Goan chorizo to be the perfect ingredient to liven up any dish.
This is probably what got chef Irfan Pabaney to introduce a Goan chorizo mac and cheese in his Sassy Spoon chain of restaurants in Mumbai. This is a dish that oozes culinary decadence and marries two contrasting tastes. Smoke House Deli has now the devilishly delicious Goan sausage (the menu describes it as chorizo, though) and potato sandwich in its menu. Ironically, you can have the sinful, fatty Goan sausages here with prim and proper multigrain breads. Chef Glyston Gracias, Smoke House Deli, says, “The chorizo at Smoke House Deli caters to the Indian palate and is smoked to perfection. It works well with our casual-dining ambience and has the right balance of fat, meat and spice, which takes me back to my grandmother’s choris pav that I used to gorge on during my summer vacations in Goa.”
Villa Vandre, the recently launched cafe in Mumbai, has its own take on chorizo. Chef Aloysius makes East Indian sausages, which he says are less spicy and fatty than the Goan version. He makes a tantalising dish — sausage topped with a fried egg and placed on mash. Aloysius’s method of making his own sausages takes care of the consistency and supply issues which chefs have with Goan sausages. Chandra talks about how the quality of sausage needs to be checked even in Goa, where he sources it from. Kably talks of the extra cooking done to ensure quality; and chef Saurabh frets at being unable to get a regular supply of Goan sausages in Delhi. Hopefully, the supply issue will be sorted out soon, so that meat lovers across the country can experience the delights of this wonderful ingredient.