It is not an ingredient that most Indians are familiar with. But I am willing to bet that by the end of the year, all of us will know what chorizo is.
Some of it has to do with availability. You’ll find imported chorizo at branches of Nature’s Basket and most vaguely-upmarket sausage-and-meat shops. And some of it has to do with menus. It is hard to find a restaurant that serves tapas of any kind and does not use chorizo. And chorizo is turning up in non-European restaurants too. Farzi Cafe in Delhi does a best-selling chorizo rice.
If you have not come across it before, the term ‘chorizo’ refers to two related meat products. One is a sausage, of the sort you have to fry, that is usually made with pork and spices, and has a teekha taste - which is why Indian chefs like it. The Oberois have been selling a locally-made chorizo at their delis for three decades now.
But there is also a salami-style chorizo of the kind you do not have to cook which is gaining popularity because Indians prefer its tangy flavour to normal Italian salamis. It is widely available and more and more restaurants are offering it as part of their salami platters.
Chorizo is of Spanish-Portuguese origin and when the Portuguese landed in Goa they began to make their own version. It is still called chorise in Goa but the rest of us know it as Goan sausage. It is more sausage than salami and unlike Spanish chorizo, tends to fall apart when cooked. The Goans like that and eat it either with rice or a hunk of local bread which soaks up the melted fat. (In any case, all pork from Goa should be thoroughly cooked.)
So far, at least, meat suppliers in the rest of India are unable to source reliable supplies of Goan sausage so some restaurants buy directly from artisanal manufacturers in Goa. Manu Chandra of the Monkey Bar mini-chain uses Goan sausage extensively to great effect.
What you have therefore, is a trend within a trend. Fancy chefs use chorizo. But the really fancy guys are smart enough to use the Goan version and know how to get their hands on it!
Vir Sanghvi is India's best-known food writer and TV host. His book, Rude Food won the Cointreau Award for Best Food Literature book in the world and his food and travel shows on channels such as TLC and NDTV Good Times have won numerous awards and continue to be watched by millions.
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