There are four sleeps left to Christmas Day and there’s no better time to make these curries than now. If you don’t know it already, a good Pork Sorpotel only tastes phenomenal after three to four days of reheating each day. This celebratory dish of Indian Christiandom changes with every household, but the rules are still the same. In the same vein, I also decided to include one more Christmas curry in this post- a Diabo, a traditional stew-like dish, usually made with chicken or leftover meats by Macanese people, again with heavy Portuguese and some Cantonese influences. You can make this for Boxing Day.
The sorpotel recipe is one that was given to me by Melissa D’Souza, an old colleague of mine who helped me find my voice when it came to food writing. This is one of her family heirlooms, and thus, I have left the majority of the recipe untouched. A celebration of the nose-to-tail cooking tradition, the sorpotel uses not just the offals of the pig in the curry, but also uses blood, in addition to the vinegar, heady spices and spirit. Interestingly, she also tells me about a curry named Rakti where blood is the main ingredient. “It’s like a poor man’s sorpotel”, she says, “but instead of the blood being used to just coagulate and thicken the gravy, it’s an ingredient”.
The Diabo, named so because of its fiery red colour, in contrast is traditionally served with a crumbed pork chop, which I’ve done away with because it’s a rather extensive curry to prep for. It yields a delicious gravy that matures beautifully as it sits. The interesting bit about this curry is that it uses mixed vegetable pickle and ginger pickle to finish. This curry comes from the coloniser’s kitchens where there was always heaping amounts of leftover or cooked meat and curry, and it was cooked to use up all the leftovers.
Boneless Pork 1 kg
Pork Liver, Heart, Tongue 1 each
Water 3 cups
Dried red chillies 12
Black peppercorns 12
Garlic 12 cloves
Ginger 1-inch piece
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Cinnamon 2 1-inch pieces
Vinegar 1/4 cup
Oil 1/2 cup
Coconut Feni 1 peg (use tequila or burned rum if you can’t find the coconut feni)
Salt to taste
Green chillies 6, chopped
Onions 4, medium-sized, finely chopped
Wash and pat dry the meats. Set aside any blood for use later. In a deep heavy-bottomed pan, immerse the meats in the water and put it over medium heat. Cover with a lid and parboil the meats, for approximately 20 minutes. Take this mixture off the heat and let it cool, then dice the meats fine. Set aside the water.
Put all the spices, except the green chillies and onion into the blender and blitz, using the vinegar to thin it down until it is ground into a paste. Heat oil in a pan and over medium heat, fry the pieces of pork till they are lightly browned.
Add the blitzed spice and vinegar paste to the meat and stir fry this for 5 minutes, then salt it to taste. Splash in the coconut feni, any remaining vinegar, the stock of the meat and the reserved blood. Add to this the chopped onions and the green chillies. Then, lower the heat and simmer the sorpotel for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the oil separates and floats on top, check for thickness. When thick enough, take it off the heat, check for salt and vinegar, then let it cool to room temperature.
At this stage you can let the sorpotel stand for a whole day before freezing it, then fishing it out and heating it thoroughly only on the day you will eat it. Alternately, once it has come to room temperature, cover and refrigerate, taking it out of the refrigerator once every day and warming it up thoroughly by bringing it up to a boil with some water or if you have any of that reserved stock from before, that works too.
Chicken stock 4 cups
Vinegar 6 tbsp
Saffron 1 pinch
Mustard powder 1 tbsp
Water 5 tbsp
Dried red chillies 1/2 cup
Garlic 6 cloves
Fresh Turmeric 1 1/2-inch sized piece, minced
Ginger 1 1/2-inch sized piece, minced
Onion 1 medium-sized, very finely chopped
Lemongrass 1 stalk, outer layers removed and the inside bashed in
Sambal Oelek 1 tbsp (from a bottle is fine)
Cashews 1/4 cup, lightly toasted
Coconut Oil 1/2 cup
Black mustard seeds 1 tbsp
Yellow mustard seeds 1 tbsp
Gur/Jaggery 4 tbsp grated
Dark Soy Sauce 2 tbsp
Worcestershire Sauce 2 tbsp
Potatoes 250g, boiled
Cucumber 1/2, peeled and cut into cubes
Onion 1 large, chopped into two and left on a naked flame for the petals to get blistered
Mixed vegetables achar 1/2 cup (You can pick this up readymade, but make sure this is cooked with mustard oil. Ask for the simplest mixed veg achar they have)
Ginger Achar 1/2 cup (1/2 cup of ginger cut into matchsticks, salted and left overnight with 3 tbsp vinegar)
Coriander a fistful, freshly chopped, for garnish
Marinade for the Chicken Thighs
Chicken 6 thighs, skin on or 1 whole chicken, or use an equal amount of leftover meats from previous meals
Ginger 1 1-inch piece, thinly sliced
Scallions/ Spring Onions 2, white and green parts chopped
Shaoxing rice wine 1/2 cup
Curry powder 2 tsp
Ground Turmeric 1/2 tbsp
Vinegar 1 tbsp
Salt 1 1/2 tsp
Make Tea Eggs (optional)
Water 1 cups
Loose black tea 1/4 cup
Sichuan peppercorns or black peppercorns 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon stick 1
Ginger 1 1-inch piece, freshly grated
Star Anise 1
Light soya sauce 1/2 cup
If making the tea eggs, start with those. Bring the water for the tea eggs to a boil in a small pan. Add in the tea, peppercorns, cinnamon stick, ginger, star anise, soy sauce and reduce the heat to low. Let this simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the soya sauce, then strain it. Place in a bowl big enough to fit three eggs. Fill a pot with water like you would for boiled eggs. Bring the water to a boil and add the eggs in carefully. Let it cook for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes carefully transfer the eggs to an ice water bath to cool. When cool, using the back of a spoon, tap all sides of the boiled egg so cracks appear on the surface, but don’t peel back the shells. Immerse these eggs in the marinade and refrigerate for an hour before removing from the marinade.
Combine the ingredients for the chicken marinade. Taste for salt and smear it over the chicken. In a refrigerator bag, add all the chicken pieces. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Roast the thighs or the whole chicken in a 180 degree celsius hot oven for 40-45 minutes until juices run clear. Let it rest in its own juices covered with a tin foil for five minutes before uncovering and pulling the chicken off the bone.
Combine the chicken stock together with the juices from the roasting pan and heat it thoroughly over high heat. If any scum rises to the surface, skim it out.
Mix together 2 tbsp out of the 6tbsp vinegar together with saffron and set it aside. Mix the mustard powder together with a tablespoon of water to form a paste and set this aside too.
Make the curry paste by putting the chillies into a bowl. Mix together the 4 tbsp vinegar with 4 tbsp water and bring it to a boil, then pour this over the chillies and let it soak for an hour at least. In a blender blitz together the garlic, turmeric, ginger, onion, lemongrass, sambal oelek and cashewnuts, until smooth, adding water if necessary. it should be a thin paste.
Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium high heat, then add both mustard seeds and let them pop. Stir quickly, not getting them burn for a few seconds, then gently add the curry paste otherwise it will splatter. Fry this paste until the oil begins to separate from the sides. Let this process continue for 10 minutes because we want to reduce the looseness of the paste by cooking the moisture off. Next, add the stock with the juices mixed, the vinegar and saffron mix, the mustard mixture, the gur/jaggery, soy sauce and worcestershire sauce. Bring this up to a simmer stirring because the sauce will get thick and can burn. Taste the curry when thickened to your liking. It should taste salty, sweet and spicy. At this point, add the meats in and simmer for 15 minutes, followed by the chopped potatoes. Remove from the heat and add in the cucumber, the blistered onions, the achars and garnish with coriander. Serve with the tea eggs.