The main tasks for this recipe are sourcing the ingredients and all of the labor-intensive chopping. The masala can be made using powdered spices, but for the best results, buy everything whole and grind the spices fresh. The masala can be made in advance and then used the day of. Instead of using sugar for the curry, cookbook author Nik Sharma, whose mother is Goan, recommends coconut/palm sugar jaggery, which is much darker in color and carries a very different perfume than the sugarcane-based varieties sold in Indian stores. As for the vinegar, Sharma says that “toddy vinegar is nearly impossible to source outside Goa, and for that reason, based on the strong recommendation by my aunts, I’ve started to do what they do: use malt vinegar and in some instances coconut vinegar.”
- First, make the masala. In a dry pan over low heat, roast the Kashmiri chiles until they're toasted. Set aside. In the same pan over medium heat, toast the cumin seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, mustard seeds, cloves, and peppercorns. Remove from the heat and grind using a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder. Put the ground spices in a food processor with the vinegar, chiles, garlic, ginger, and turmeric until you have a thick brick-red paste. It can be kept in the fridge and used for other Goan dishes.
- Next, put the pork belly and ears into a pot, adding enough water to cover it by an inch or so, along with the turmeric powder and salt. Bring to a slow boil and cook until the meat has become firm enough to cut easily, about 20 minutes, skimming the scum that rises to the surface. Remove the pork belly and ear and set aside, and reserve the water. Add the liver to the pot and bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the meat can be cut easily. Remove from the pot.
- Chop all of the meat, ears, liver, and skin into approximately 1/6-inch-thick cubes. Set aside.
- Finely chop the onions until they're about the same size as the cubes of meat. Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan over low heat, then add the onions and cook until they are browned and sweet, about 10 minutes. If you don't mind extra heat in the dish, you can add the green chiles. Add the dissolved tamarind, about 5 tablespoons of the masala, and the reserved pork belly water from the pot. Bring to a simmer.
- Add the reserved meat to the pan. Cook it a little longer until the liquid reduces, about 10 minutes, then add salt, sugar, vinegar, and the powdered blood and feni (if you can find them), to taste. The flavor should be acidic but not bracingly so.
- Let the sorpotel cool, then refrigerate. Don't eat it straight away; let it marinate for at least three days, and then warm it up with a little bit of water. Serve with boiled or pulao rice, or sannas (spongy rice cakes) if you can obtain or make them.
Jonathan Nunn is a food writer from London. At the moment, his work can be found regularly in Eater London where he writes about restaurants, race, diaspora and politics.