If I were to ask what goes into the making of a truly original traditional Goan sorpotel, the answers would be numerous – an original recipe, good ingredients, authentic palm vinegar, leaving enough time to mature – and many more.
But over the last few days, I came to the realization that what goes into the making of a truly original traditional Goan sorpotel is communal love and unity. The spirit of families putting their hands together to the task, working together in unison (and certainly not straying from the original recipe) makes the sorpotel happen.
I have known Goencho Konso for many years and always marveled at their commitment to the Goan cause, and relished their culinary preparations. But before I delve any further I must reveal that Goencho Konso is not a restaurant or catering establishment, it is not an organization governed by committees and rules. It is a small group of families (if you call some 12+ families small!) who banded together way back in 2000. As one of the founders puts it – to show the world how a real sorpotel is made. And they have not looked back since!
So what’s it all about, then?
In reality, the Goencho Konso culinary arm comes into action mainly in December – with the sole motive of catering to the Goan tastes at the St. Joseph’s Cathedral Christmas Festival, Abu Dhabi. Since 17 years, the members run the ‘Goencho Konso’ at the day-long event, selling traditional Goan delicacies including Sorpotel, Xacuti, Choris Pao, Roast Beef, Solantlem, Pulao – bringing the tongue-teasing flavors of Goa to the festive spirit of the Christmas celebration.
But that’s nothing new, isn’t it?
Unless it means cooking some 180 kilos of meat – the preparatory often in different households, diligently following a set recipe and coming together to put the whole thing together as it were in one day.
Over 25 persons at work – some all day and others in shifts that suit their convenience; chopping onions, peeling and dicing ginger and garlic, grinding the masala – sauteeing and putting the whole dish together. Oh! I conveniently forgot to mention that families had already completed the tasks of cutting the meat and frying it individually the week before – so that’s out of the way. Not forgetting an equal number of children adding to the noise (or trying to be of help), but certainly making a dramatic appearance for the tasting. Niz Goenkars (true Goans) they certainly are.
And let me tell me that the outcome is unbelievable – the sorpotel and all other dishes sell out by the end of the day – to the clientele that is not necessarily Goan.
The Goan delicacies from Goencho Konso have also become popular at the community events like the Sao Joao Festival and the World God Day celebrations.
I’m not sharing the Goencho Konso recipe for the Sorpotel, but here is mine:
1 kg boneless pork
1 pork liver, 1 heart, 1 tongue, kidneys
12 dried Kashmiri red chilies
12 black peppercorns
12 cloves garlic
1 piece ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 one-inch pieces cinnamon
1 cup palm vinegar (or alternative)
1 cup oil
1 peg coconut feni (you can do without this)
4 onions, chopped fine
Salt to taste
Wash and pat dry the meats to remove all water. Put in a deep pan with a little vinegar with the on medium heat. Cover with a lid and parboil the meats, (approx. 20 minutes). Chop all the meats fine. Save the water for cooking.
Lightly fry all the diced meat, stir-frying continuously till it is lightly browned. Keep aside.
Grind all the spices with the vinegar to a fine paste.
Heat the oil in a deep pan over medium heat, add and sautee onions. Add the masala and fry for 5 minutes. Add the fried meat and continue cooking. Add the stock of the boiled meat, coconut feni, any remaining vinegar, salt to taste. Lower the heat and let the sorpotel simmer for 45 minutes or more. Take care to stir it occasionally. When the oil begins separating and the gravy is thick, remove from the heat.
Leave to mature for a few days – warming up once daily. Tastes best on the 3rd or 4th day.