The Goan Pork Sausages are primarily made with raw, fatty pork meat along with other local spices, thereby making it a spicy dish. Goan Pork Sausages are synonymous with Goans and are found in almost all Goan households. Chouriços, or simply choris (pronounced cho-rees), seeks inspiration from the Portuguese and Spanish chorizo but differs in flavour.
The modern word ‘sausage’ owes its origin to the Latin word Salsus, meaning salted. The term was used originally for cured or salted meat. In Goa, sausages, or the iconic ‘choris’ — the Konkani name for Portuguese chorizo — does not denote the smoked charcuterie of the West-English Bangers or the Slovenian Kransky but are inspired by the chorizo, and to an extent longaniza, made with minced meat. Chorizo came in with the Portuguese in 1510; the Christians of Goa embraced new ingredients and pork became an integral part of the local diet. Four centuries of Portuguese rule made local Goan food a fusion of flavours and ingredients, and chouris is no exception.
The recipe for the Portuguese chorizo — fermented, cured sausages, with a fiery red colour that came from smoked peppers, was altered to suit the local palate, as well as the availability of ingredients. Garlic, spices, and toddy vinegar surreptitiously crept in, imparting Goan sausages a distinctive flavour and identity.
Essentially, coiled links of Goan pork sausages, are chunky pieces of pork (a good mix of fat and meat) with just the right amount of spice; while chorizo is fiery red torpedoes that release flavour when fried.
Made of cured meat, the chorizo was the perfect food for sailors, keeping well over long sea voyages. The locals too welcomed chorizo, especially during the monsoon when small fishing boats and canoes could not venture into the sea, and fish was hard to procure. These pork sausages offered an alternative source of protein.
The process of making choris is painstaking and meticulous.
Over the last decade, there has been a huge upsurge of interest in smoking choris, rather than simply sun drying and then smoking, as was the previous tradition in most homes.
Even within Goa, there is a North-South distinction on choris. The tiny rosary Goan pork sausages of South Goa, named for the beads of a Catholic rosary, are attractive and brightly red. By far the most popular variety, rosary sausages are sold daily on a per-piece basis in the Madgaon market, largely by women who make them at home. The bigger sausages, called King size, are made-to-order.
The larger, Horse-Shoe shaped variety of sausage is associated with North Goa, and although less vibrant in appearance, owing to a duller colour, carry more pronounced flavours thanks to a higher spice-to-meat ratio. Many believe that these are loosely based on Alheira, the horse-shoe chicken sausages of the Portuguese Jews, dating back to the time of the Inquisition.
Juicy, moist, and with just the right amount of fat, Goan sausages continue to please palates across the country. Goa’s love affair with the multipurpose sausage has not faded over the centuries, and that has much to do with its versatility. Special occasions in a Goan home always call for a dish or two made with choris. Loaded in the Goan pao or poiee, the flavours of choris explode in your mouth; a classic pairing. The Sunday special, choris pulao, is another favourite relished by locals and gourmands alike. A quick meal of sausage chilli fry with potatoes, where the fatty bits render to create a spicy ‘gravy,’ perfect to polish off with poee or pao, is another beloved meal. Feijoada, a Portuguese-inspired sausage and kidney bean stew is lesser-known, but a deeply treasured dish for those in the know.
Every Goan home, in India and abroad, will always have a stash of these sausages tucked away in the freezer. No Goan ever leaves their home state without them. After all, choris can rekindle the flavours of home for those who are homesick and create a satisfying meal in a jiffy.