Cold cuts like salami and sausages are often featured in several European breakfast plates and brunches, usually enjoyed with a side of bread. So does the Goa(n) sausage taste the same?
My first tryst with sausages took place when I was in my teen years. My grandfather was an avid foodie, with a great love for ham, turkey, pork and cold cuts like salami and sausages. The first time I was served the dark red, cylindrical-shaped meat, glittering in oil, I was a little apprehensive. Honestly, it did not look appetizing at all. However, going by my grandpa’s choice and taste, I readily agreed to take a bite. Slicing a piece of it with a knife and fork, I placed it in my mouth and quickly took a bite of a crispy toast. To my surprise, I absolutely loved them. Well, there was no looking back after that. I would look forward to breakfast buffets and brunches at hotels when we would be on vacation because I knew these beauties were awaiting there for me, to be tasted.
That was quite a basic understanding I held about sausages, a rather simplified approach until recently. A friend of mine came back from his Goa trip and shared all his experiences with me but what left a mark in my foodie brain was the mention of Goa(n) sausages. Now, you must be wondering why have I been referring to the sausages in this peculiar manner. This is because I do not wish to offend any Goans out there. Yes, they dismiss the term Goan sausages because they believe that the sausages aren’t being stuffed with Goans (the people of the state). Funny, right?
Anyways, these sausages seem to hold a special place in every Goan household. Right from the shape and appearance to the method of preparation and taste, each aspect of this sausage speaks volumes of the essence of Goa. So did it originate right here? Actually, no. For those living under a rock, Goa was under the rule of Portuguese for a long period (1510-1961). During the course of this time, Portuguese influenced the culture, faith and even the eating patterns of the natives. Much like the popular Goan vindaloo, sausages are believed to be a gift of these colonizers too.
Getting deeper into the mire of sausages, it can be found that they’ve got some close cousins from Spain too, in the form of chorizos. History is proof of the fact that it was the travel expeditions that brought cultures closer to each other, paving way for local adaptations and fusions, in terms of cuisine particularly. Spain took the chorizos to South and Central America whereas the Portuguese brought it to Goa and Africa. You would ask, why Goa?
Well, sausages were essentially pork-based which was not a preferred choice of meat in most parts of the country. The sea route brought them to Kerala but the lack of acceptance of this pork dish led the Portuguese to settle in Goa. Fun fact: Legend has it that Catholicism was on the rise during this time and forced conversions were taking place. However, the interesting bit here was that refusal to eat pork amounted to a cognizable offence. That’s what set the tone of the sausage culture in the state.
The specialty of the Goa(n) sausages lies in the fact that they are vinegared with Goan palm toddy which is hard to find elsewhere. Colloquially called choris, these sausages are spicier and have a much more intense taste than their Spanish counterparts. Their aroma and flavour is so strong that it would linger on for quite some time after you’ve had it. The stuffing of the sausages uses a whole lot of Indian spices, which are then tied in small knots like a necklace of beads and dried in the sun to get a nice, wrinkly effect.
Taking a bite of the traditional Goan sausage pulao, we can proudly call these sausages our very own.