Feijoa is one of my favourite foods. A Goan one-pot dish of Portuguese origin it’s ridiculously easy to make and can be eaten with either bread or rice. It also usually tastes better the next day.
I discovered feijoa quite late in life; if I remember correctly I first tasted it at a friend’s place much after I finished college. I hadn’t eaten much Goan food growing up and, even when I had, it was mostly restricted to the more well-known dishes like fish curry rice, Goa sausages, sorpotel. Feijoa is a very basic, home-style dish, not usually served at a celebration and, because it’s so ordinary perhaps, not easy to find on restaurant menus.
The first attempts at recreating feijoa at home were a disaster. My mother had never heard of it before and was very excited to learn about this new dish. However, between my description of what I had eaten and what she understood, something got lost in translation. In all fairness, I too had no idea how it had been made and told her it was rajma with Goa sausages. So, she went ahead and made a proper Punjabi rajma curry and a Goa Sausage Chilli Fry and then mixed the two together. It was, of course, edible (that’s the magic of Goa Sausage, you can’t go wrong with it) but it wasn’t what I had eaten. On the next attempt she once again made a proper Punjabi rajma but this time mixed it with plain boiled Goa Sausage. Much better, but I finally understood what was going wrong: the beans needed to be just plain boiled and then stewed with the Goa Sausage.
While I prefer feijoa with pao, mostly because I like everything with pao, rice and beans are the classic combination. You’ll find a variation of this pairing across cuisines since this is one the cheapest and most convenient way to get a nutritious meal. Additionally, both dried ingredients have a long shelf life and are easy to transport which is why in almost all the American Westerns, the cowboys are usually eating a plate of beans. Usually the beans are supplemented with some form of cured or dried meat, often beef but pork as well.
Feijoa is the Portuguese version of rice and beans and came from the pork-loving provinces of Minho and Estremadura where it is cooked with salted pork or beef. However, it was the Brazilians, who raised Feijoada to the status of unofficial national dish. They have long believed that it is an indigenous dish invented by African slaves working on Portuguese-owned farms who mixed pork offal into their daily meal rice and beans. That story has been debunked but the Brazilian version does include ears, tails, feet, tail apart from loin and smoked, mild linguiça sausage. The Goan version is closer to the original Portuguese with salted pork being substituted by Goa sausage.
I’ve never eaten a Sloppy Joe, though in school and at church fairs the Hot Dogs that were sold were actually bread rolls with a wet, savoury mince filling not unlike the thick, loose mince used to make this burger. Unlike the hot dogs where the filling was neatly contained in the bread, the mince filling is supposed to spills out of the bun – hence ‘sloppy’. It doesn’t have anything to do with Sloppy Joe’s, a famous bar in Florida that was Hemmingway’s favourite haunt.
I thought the feijoa made an ideal filling for an Indian-style sloppy burger and a change from mopping up the feijoa with bread. In part, it also reminds me of chouriço pao, another home-style Goan snack.
For the Feijoa
200 gm dried rajma (red kidney beans)
100 gm Goa Sausage, or spicy chorizo
50 gm bacon, diced
25 gm garlic, roughly chopped
50 gm onions, sliced
2 tbsp tomato ketchup (optional)
salt to taste
For the Sloppy Joe
50 gm capsicum, diced
75 gm carrot, chopped fine
2 soft paos or burger buns per person
Soak the rajma overnight, or at least for 6-8 hours, in double the quantity of water.
Drain, refresh the water and pressure cook for two whistles (approximately 20-25 minutes). When done, remove from heat and keep aside. Do not discard excess liquid
Meanwhile cook the sausage by in about 50 ml of water. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. Drain and keep aside to cool. Do not discard the cooking liquid.
Once the sausage has cooled, split the skin and pull out the meat and masala.
In a large saucepan, or frying pan, fry the bacon on medium heat till it starts to crisp. Remove and keep aside. Add the onions and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes or till just soft.
Add in the rajma beans and the cooking liquid and mix well.
Add the Goa Sausage, bacon and sausage cooking liquid and mix well. Stir in the tomato ketchup and salt. Break up the sausage into smaller bits.
Continue cooking till the rajma is soft and the feijoa is a thick pouring consistency. Mash some of the beans to add a bit of thickness.
When done, remove from heat and keep aside to cool. Refrigerate and use the next day.
To assemble the Sloppy Joes
Split the pao in the centre and cut almost till the edge. Apply butter on the inside of the pao.
Place the buttered side face down in a large frying pan or tawa and toast till golden brown.
In another pan, add about 30 ml of water, one large serving of feijoa (the feijoa will have coagulated in fridge and needs to be thinned down) and 1 tsp of carrot and heat on a low flame. Mix well
When the feijao is hot and runny, turn off heat and stir in diced capsicum.
Arrange on the pao and topped with sliced cheese or grated cheese.
Serve hot with chips or potato nalli.
Preparation time: 35-40 minutes
Makes about 10-12 Sloppy Joes