A few days ago, I was chatting with mum on the phone, like I pretty much do every couple of days. Funny, isn't it? When I was a teenager living at home, the last thing I wanted to do is talk to mum. Now that I am an adult, and a mum myself, I find myself turning to her almost on every other day. I tell her all my everyday stuff, get advice, get recipes, get tips on looking after Aditi, complain, moan, mutter, gossip, hand out unwanted advice for my sister... and its been a gradual realisation that I don't know everything after all (well, I did when I was a teenager, I suppose)
My mum told me off a few days ago... yes, almost 32 and I still get told off on occasion too :-) I was chatting with her about my blog and how I was enjoying rediscovering the recipes of my childhood, and she sniped that I never appreciated them or ate them when I was a child. That got me thinking. Yes, of course, when you have something all the time you never really learn to appreciate its value or how precious it is. You tend to take things for granted, and suddenly one day you realise its no longer around, and you begin to miss it. A lot. This has been one of my realisations, especially as I have gotten older, and moved further and further away from my home and birthplace.
Mum also mentioned that we should have paid more attention when my grandfather used to chat about food, and mentioned recipes that are now lost forever. How right she is! I am lucky enough today, that I still have both my grandmothers, and thanks to mum have been getting recipes off them, and writing them down, so I preserve them for my own daughter.
I was also chatting with my friend Shireen from Ruchik Randhap, and I was quite interested to note that she was feeling the same way. Especially about those traditional recipes that we felt took such a long time to make. As we chatted, we realised that with modern appliances, these recipes no longer take as long to make, and we also noticed that we adapted them as we went along to suit our lives and tastes. It was nothing short of a revelation to me that despite living here in Canada, a few thousand miles away from India, I could still make my traditional recipes, just adapting them to suit what I have here.
This recipe for pork sorpotel is one of those recipes. This particular one is from a dear lady, Christine, who works for my uncle and aunt in Bombay. Christine is from Orissa, a North Indian state, but she can, quite frankly, outcook a Mangalorean auntyji :-) Weirdly enough, I don't remember eating this pork in Bombay, as I always persuaded her to make other dishes for me. I first tasted this version of sorpotel when my aunt brought it to my cousin's place in London [do not ask me how she managed to get it through customs, I don't know, and I swear I do not have half the balls my aunty L has ;-)] I adored the taste, and pestered aunty for the the recipe, which she gave me after a quick phone call to Christine. Ever since then this has been my failsafe recipe for sorpotel, and has garnered many an appreciative response.
Sorpotel is a very personal taste... every single Mangalorean or Goan household will have their own recipe, and its usually a closely guarded secret. The joke about us is that we will happily provide the recipe, but leave out one crucial ingredient, so the competition's dish will never quite taste the same as ours :-) I am not being that today, and here's the recipe, exactly like Christine gave me, with a few minor modifications of my own (remember what I was saying earlier about adapting?) And I hope you enjoy it, as its truly an authentic taste of Mangalore/ Goa in your own house!
¾ kg pork with fat (if using the liver, otherwise use 1 kg pork)
¼ kg liver
1½ tsp salt
3 – 4 bay leaves + an extra 2 – 3 leaves, fresh or dried
Enough water to boil the liver in
2 green chillies (chopped) (increase for added spice)
1 inch ginger (chopped)
2 large onions (diced)
100 gms blood (optional)
1 tbsp oil or pork fat
Salt and extra vinegar to season
For the ground masala:
7 – 10 mild Kashmiri chillies
1½ inch cinnamon
½ tsp whole peppercorns
1 tsp whole cumin
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 inch ginger
6 large flakes garlic
A walnut sized ball of tamarind
About 2 tbsp vinegar (white or red wine)
Place the liver, salt and bay leaves into a pot with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil and cook for 3 – 5 minutes at the boil. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface.
Drain. Dice the liver into very small pieces. Discard the water and bay leaves.
Dice the meat into the same size dice as the liver.
Fry the meat and boiled liver together in a large pan, for a few minutes, until the meat is sealed, and a light brown. Keep aside.
Fry the green chillies, onion and ginger in the fat left over from frying the meat (or add a tbsp of oil/ fat to help the onions fry).
Fry for about 5 – 6 minutes, until the onions are just soft and starting to colour. Keep aside.
Toss together the Kashmiri chillies, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and cumin in a hot, heavy pan for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
Grind the spices with the turmeric, ginger, garlic and tamarind, using about 2 tbsp of vinegar (any kind, I use red wine vinegar) to loosen the mixture a bit. If the masala needs it, add a little more water while grinding.
Now add the finely ground masala to the same pan in which the pork/ onions were fried, add a little more pork fat or oil, and fry, stirring every so often, on a medium to low heat until the fat starts to separate (about 10 minutes).
Once the masala is fried, add the fried chillies, ginger and onion, the fried meat and liver and the blood (if using). Throw in the extra bay leaves.
Mix together well, then add about ½ a cup of hot water. Season with salt to taste (I use about 2 tsp).
Stir together and simmer on a low heat until the meat is tender, and the sauce is of the consistency that you want it. If you want it with more sauce, add a little more water. If not, leave it to dry out a little bit.
Taste and adjust seasoning, adding a little more salt or vinegar to taste.
Sorpotel tastes best the next day, so if you are making it for company, I would suggest making it a day or two in advance. It freezes very well, and keeps in the fridge for two to three days