The Chorizo Chronicles, MW June 2015

Pic of the MW article
The June edition of the MW (Men's World) magazine has my story on the trend of 'mainstream', non-Goan, restaurants in India introducing chorizo and Goan sausages in their menus.

You can read it at the link here.

This is the original text:

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 flavoured 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 replied saying “Farzi cafe is all about food, the way never served before, the pairing of ingredients never seen before. Pork and rice is a classic concept seen in many regional cuisines like 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 Indian palate. Mixed in ghee pulao with caramelized onions and chillis makes a complete meal in itself. “

What he said made a lot of sense because the Spanish and Portuguese origined, red chilli flecked pork meat, chorizo, is likely to appeal to Indian palates with its tangy and sharp tastes and flavours.

In fact sometime back, Imbiss, the meat focused restaurant from Mumbai became pretty popular for its chorizo rice served with quail eggs.

Then Smoke House Deli in Mumbai introduced chorizo picante, chorizo tossed with cubed potatoes and caramelised onions. We always order it when we go to Smokehouse and it is a hit with whoever is with us when we go there.

One afternoon, the folks at Smoke House told us that they had run out of imported chorizo and wanted to know if they could use local chorizo instead. Turned out that they meant Goan sausages. The dish tasted even nicer than normal. Goan sausages have an inherent heaty 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 Mangolorean owned New Martin Hotel and Snow Flake in South Mumbai, they were rarely seen in newer restaurants and cafes in the city or outside of it.

There was the odd example such as the Goan sausage bagel which was available in Mumbai’s Bagel Shop but that’s about it.

Owner, Anil Kably, got the idea when he had gone to Goa for a music festival. He had bought sausages from a local market. A friend of his, Michael Anderson, scoffed at these sausages and took Anil to Anton’s. Anton took him to a small smoke house, where he  gave Anila some sausages that were being smoked on a spit to try. Anil apparently was so impressed that he decided to introduce these in his café. He tempered the Goan sausage with cream cheese to make it more acceptable for the foreigner clientelle that he has in his café.

Ironically it was a Bangalore based chef who brought Goan sausages into the mainstrean modern restaurant landscape before folks in Mumbai did so. Chef Manu Chandra introduced Goan sausage pav and Goan sausage pulao at Monkey Bar in Bangalore. Elements of the menu which he then took to Delhi and recently to Mumbai when he expanded his gastro pub chain.

Chef Chandra says that his menu at Monkey Bar is a tribute to his childhood memories, travels and history of culture of India and celebrates the regional cuisine of India. He finds Goan Chorizo, a remnant of the Portuguese rule of Goa, to be the perfect ingredient to liven any dish.

Which is probably what got Chef Irfan Pabaney to introduce a Goan Choriz mac and cheese in his Sassy Spoon chain of restaurants in Mumbai. A dish that oozes culinary decadence and marries two contrasting tastes.

Smoke House Deli, which first experimented with replacing choriz Goan sausages in its choriz picante then introduced a Goan sausage based dish too. This is the devillishly delicious Goan sausage (the menu describes it as chorizo though) and potato sandwich. Ironically you can have the very sinful fatty Goan sausages here with prim and proper multi grain breads.

Chef Glyston Gracias of Smoke House Deli talks about trying to marry childhood memories in a modern café format and says “The chorizo at Smoke House Deli caters to the Indian palate and is smoked to perfection. It works well with our causal dining ambiance and has the right balance of fat, meat and spice that tends to take 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 tiny café in Mumbai’s Bandra, has its own take on choriz. Chef Aloysious, an East Indian (one of the original communities to settle in Mumbai) makes  East Indian sausages which he says is less spicy and fatty than the Goan version. He makes a tantalising dish with sausage topped with a fried egg and placed on mash.

Aloysious’s method of making his own sausages takes care of the consistency and supply issues which chefs have with Goan sausage especially outside of Goa and pockets of Mumbai. Manu Candra talks about how the quality of sausage needs to be checked even in Goa where he sources it from. Anil Kably of Bagel Shop talks of the extra cooking done to ensure quality. Chef Saurabh of Farzi Café frets at being unable to get a regular supply of Goan sausage in Delhi.

Given the popularity of Goan sausages and Indian choriz wherever it has been introduced I am quite sure that it is going to catch the fancy of meat lovers across the country.

Hopefully the supply issue will be sorted out soon.