The Portuguese and the chilli

Half our time in Goa was spent on sun loungers, books spine side up, staring out at the mesmeric Arabian Sea. Sometimes we swam (me half terrified by invisible sea creatures), but mostly we sat – and for this time, it felt as though we had checked out of India. A sentiment which isn’t that surprising considering that most of the coast is littered with tourists but also that Goa, for most of it’s recent life, has been Portuguese.

The Portuguese with their big hats and big beards came over in 1497 to take over this luscious bit of coastline. They came and stayed for 450 years and imparted, amongst other things their chillies to India which changed the course of Indian food forever more. Try and imagine Indian food without chillies – it really is too mind-blowing a thought to entertain.


Chillies are used by the sackful in Goa. Many of them end up in Goa’s signature dish, the Vindaloo. A fire-laden chilli, vinegar and pork curry which had many grown men crying in tandoori houses in England when I was growing up in the 90’s. Some end up in a Xacuti, a complicated little dish made up of so many powdered spices a thick mud occasionally forms at the bottom of the dish.

Fewer, end up in the most marvellous sausage called, the Goan sausage. The woodier, headier, tougher big brother to chorizo. It was with this sausage and in our beautiful Goan kitchen we created our very own Goan shakshuka.

130424 goa photo

Goan sausage shakshuka recipe

The one thing that I realised with this sausage is that it’s not like any other species of sausage that i’ve cooked with before. It’s tough and needs some time before it will give you it’s glorious flavours and textures. A bit like neck of lamb, or ox cheek. (I found that around 40 minutes was adequate to soften the meat, but you may need longer)


  • 200g Goan sausage, skin removed and chopped into small 1cm cubes
  • 2 Bombay onions (or small red onions in England), finely sliced
  • 6 red peppers, finely chopped into slices
  • 6 ripe tomatoes, chopped into cubes
  • ½ teaspoon of sugar
  • 5 fresh eggs
  • 6 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
  • A pinch of cumin seeds
  • 1 Goan chilli
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

In a pan heat the oil until hot. When hot add the onions and fry until they are soft then add the finely chopped garlic and sugar. Stir for a couple of minutes and add the sausages followed by the peppers as these two will take longer to cook and break down than the tomatoes. Cook on a high heat for around 8-10 minutes, until the peppers are starting to soften, then add the tomatoes.

Leave to cook for around 10-15 mins until the tomatoes start to thicken to a pasta sauce like consistency. Pop in the cumin and a pinch of pepper and salt (if need be). Now make a little well in the sauce with your spoon and crack an egg into it. Repeat in quick succession into the pan and pop a lid on, lower the heat to medium for around 10-12 minutes until the eggs are cooked through.

Serve into bowls with a big hunk of bread (or pav, also Portuguese).