Goan Feijoada

A bowl of Goan feijoada and some pão buns.

Feijoada (Portuguese pronunciation: [fejʒuˈadɐ]) is a stew of beans with beef and pork. The name feijoada comes from feijão, ‘bean’ in Portuguese. It is widely prepared in the Portuguese-speaking world, with slight variations.


After the last three or four recipes where I had to do some deep digging to find recipes to work from, researching this one was a breeze. Every single result on page one of my Google search was actually about Goan feijoada, rather than a page about the Brazilian or Portuguese versions that references the fact that feijoada is also eaten in these other countries.

It’s also the version that strays farthest from its Portuguese origins. While most of the previous version have felt like the Portuguese dish was adapted to local ingredients, this one feels like a typical Indian bean dish with some chouriço added.

Goa is a state roughly in the middle of the west coast of India. It was a Portuguese colony from the 1500s until 1961, when the Indian military took over in what is known as either the liberation or invasion of Goa, depending who’s side you’re on. Unlike Timor-Leste or Mozambique, where independence brought decades of civil war or occupation by neighboring countries, Goa was fairly quietly incorporated into India. Today it’s the smallest state in India by land area, and has the highest GDP in the country, 2.5 times the Indian average. After over 400 years of Portuguese rule, it’s not surprising that there is a lot of Portuguese influence here. The largest city in the state is called Vasco de Gama. Portuguese style architecture abounds. And of course lots of Portuguese influence in the Cuisine.

I don’t know much about Goan cuisine, beyond the vague idea that it’s one of the spicier local cuisines in India. This dish certainly does nothing to dispel that idea. Growing up, my dad’s test for “is it spicy” was does it give you hiccups. Well, this dish certainly met that criteria. I think I can handle more spice than a lot of people, but I’m certainly not a chili head by any means. I’d say this dish was right on the edge of too spicy for me- I was still able to distinguish and enjoy other flavors, but boy was my mouth burning. If you can’t handle spice skip the additional chili powder at the end, and reduce the green chilies to taste (or use milder ones- I used serrano peppers). I didn’t really taste the dish before adding the chili powder, so I can’t say for certain, but I think the masala mixture was fairly tame, despite being primarily chilies.

Goa actually has its own version of chouriço, known as Goa sausages. Because of the humidity in Goa it was difficult to make Portuguese style chouriço, so they would pickle the meat in vinegar and alcohol before stuffing the sausage. It also seems to often be made in chains of small “pearls” rather than typical sausage sizes. The only source I managed to find here in the US is GoaSausageUSA.com* , which is actually a separate website for American sales from a company based in Toronto. They shipped my sausage the day before Thanksgiving, and it got held up at the border for about a week, arriving here a week after it’s initial predicted arrival (hence the long break between blog posts here). I think in the future I would just use a Portuguese chouriço and avoid the hassle of shipping food across the border (although that probably would have gone smoother if they’d hadn’t shipped it over a major US holiday).

The other slightly unusual ingredient in this dish is Tamarind. Tamarind is a leguminous tree, native to Africa, the produces long brown pods (yes, they’re legumes so I suppose you could call them beans) that contain a sweet and tangy pulp that is used in cuisines around the world as an acidic element. Traditionally you’ll find it sold in bricks of semi-dehydrated pulp that still contain seeds and fibers from the pods. You would break off a chunk, soak it in hot water for a few minutes and then use your fingers to break it up and dissolve the pulp into the water, which is then added to your dish. Over the last few decades it’s become a popular enough ingredient in this country that you can now find it already prepared sold in jars as tamarind “concentrate” in grocery stores with a decent International foods section. I think it’s better prepared fresh, but the concentrate was available locally while the brick was not so that’s what I used this time.

Apparently one of Portugal’s lasting marks on the cuisine of Goa is European style bread. A number of recipes I looked at recommend serving this with pão, which is pretty much a soft dinner roll. I used a recipe I found on the internet, but wasn’t super impressed with it, so I’ll leave it up to you to find a recipe if you want to go that route. It would also be perfectly acceptable and traditional to serve it with rice, or some other more typical Indian bread.

Every Indian household seems to have a pressure cooker. Every Indian bean recipe I’ve ever looked at starts with cooking your beans in the pressure cooker. Not a single one of the recipes I looked at for this even mentions any other way of cooking them. If you don’t have a pressure cooker you can, of course, simply boil the beans on the stove top, which will take an hour or so. If you do that you’ll probably need to use more water, or at least add more water as they cook. See the photos to get an idea what the bean-water ratio should be once they are cooked.

While we’re generalizing about “every Indian household”, they probably also have a good high power blender/spice grinder. Some of the recipes I looked at had pictures of something that looks like a coffee grinder with a removable bowl. They are used to grind dry spices, but then, because you can remove the bowl from the motor to wash, you can add wet ingredients to make spice pastes or other small batches that might not work so well in a traditional American blender. Since I don’t own one of those I had to use two separate appliances to do that. my spice grinder is just a cheap coffee grinder, and worked pretty well. My Blend-Tec blender, on the other hand, was a little too large for this tiny amount of spice paste. I had to use the entire ⅔ cup of water to have enough material in the blender to effectively blend (otherwise everything just sat under the blades), and I think I would have preferred a slightly less watery masala paste, although in the end I don’t think it really mattered. I do have another jar for the Blend-Tec that’s supposed to work better with slightly smaller batches, but I never remember it until I’m sitting there watching the blades spin around doing nothing. And really I wish I had a Vita-Mix, but my wife had the Blend-Tec and I can’t justify two high-power blenders just for these tiny handful of situations where one is superior to the other.

Goan Feijoada

Serves: 4 as a main dish or 8 as part of a larger meal.
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: ~1 hour
Total: ~1:30, plus overnight soaking

1 ¾ cups dried red kidney beans
2 ½ cups water
½ teaspoon salt

For the Masala:
5-6 dried red Kashmiri chillies 
¾ teaspoon cumin seed
6-7 whole cloves
8 black peppercorns
1 ½ inch cinnamon stick
7-8 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 ½ Tablespoons tamarind paste
1 ½ Tablespoons red wine vinegar
~⅔ cup water 

5 teaspoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions, sliced
1 inch fresh ginger root, grated
2 large tomatoes, diced
2-3 small green chilies, split

30 Goa sausage pearls (or about 4-5 brat-sized sausages), casings removed. 

1 ½ teaspoons sugar
¾ teaspoon Indian red chile powder
Additional salt to taste

1 ¾ cups dried pinto beans, in place of kidney
14 oz spicy vegan sausage, in place of Goa sausage
1 Tablespoon coriander seed
14 oz coconut milk, in place of water for the masala
2 Tablespoons cilantro, to garnish
12 curry leaves, in masala
1 Tablespoon ginger-garlic paste, in place of ginger and garlic
1 green cardamom pod, in masala
¾ pound fresh pork, in place of sausage
2 teaspoons palm sugar, in place of white sugar
⅓ cup tomato ketchup
¾ cup tomato puree

Pick over beans, rinse, cover with cool water and leave to soak overnight.

The next day, drain the beans and place in a pressure cooker with about 2 ½ cups of water and ½ teaspoon of salt. Bring up to pressure and cook according to your pressure cooker’s instructions, (about 7-8 minutes in an InstaPot). Immediately release pressure in a safe manner, to keep the beans from becoming mushy, and check that your beans are tender. If needed return to a boil and simmer until beans are cooked. Set the cooked beans and their liquid aside. 

For the masala, heat a dry skillet over medium-low heat, and roast the chilies, cumin, cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until slightly darkened and fragrant. Pour into a small plate to cool. Add the garlic cloves to the pan and roast for about 5 minutes, until slightly charred in spots. Transfer to the plate to cool. Once cool add the toasted dry spices to a powerful blender or spice grinder, along with the turmeric, and grind to a fine powder. Add the roasted garlic and tamarind paste or vinegar. Add about ¼ cup of the water, and grind, adding additional water as needed to get a smooth paste. Set aside. 

In a heavy pot, heat oil over medium heat, and add onions. Sauté until they begin to brown, then add the ginger and sauté for another minute or so. Add the tomato and green chilies, stir, and cover. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 5-10 minutes, until tomatoes begin to break down. Stir in the masala mixture, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Use about ½ cup of water to rinse any remaining masala from the blender and add it to the pot. Cover and simmer for another 5 minutes. 

Add the sausage to the pot and mix well. Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the sausage is cooked. 

Add the cooked beans, with their liquid, and simmer, uncovered for about 10 minutes. Add sugar, chile powder, and taste for salt. Continue to simmer until the liquid reduced to a gravy of your desired consistency. 

Serve with hot rice or paõ rolls. 

*I receive no compensation for mentioning this product.

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