Vindaloo

Vindaloo has a poor reputation, let’s amend that here and now.

Vindaloo has become associated with extremely hot and spicy curry – the sort that a bunch of lads, after a night out in the pub would eat at their local Indian restaurant. Often the hottest on the menu. A bum burner would be the less diplomatic way of expressing it. It was known for it’s heat and nothing else.

But Vindaloo made properly is truly an exceptional curry. When you take a forkful you take layers of flavours, it has a complexity in its spices and is simply delicious. Yes it is spicy, but the flavours of cloves, and cinnamon are hinted at in every bite, the background sourness of vinegar is layered with garlic and cardamom pods. For it’s apparent complexities in flavours it is simple to make. Am I persuading you?

It is Goan in origin and uses vinegar, here Wikipedia is our friend –  “The name Vindaloo is derived from the Portuguese dish “Carne de Vinha d’ Alhos“, which is a dish of meat, usually pork, with wine and garlic.[2] The Portuguese dish was modified by the substitution of vinegar (usually palm vinegar) for the red wine and the addition of red Kashmiri chillies with additional spices to evolve into Vindaloo.[3] Alternative terms are vindalho or vindallo.”

The other “cultural reference” to Vindaloo is a frankly awful song written or inspired by the 1988 World Cup. Dreadful springs to mind.  But somehow I can’t help but sing it in my head every time we make this dish. Which is becoming more and more frequent as we adore it – the dish not the song!

And when I was making this curry recently in a black cast iron pot, when I added the turmeric and chilli powders I couldn’t help but be reminded of a scene from a temple we visited in India; not Goa, but in nearby Belur, Karnataka. The reds and yellows are so evocative and the darkness reminded me of the black pan I was using. I love connections.

But back to the recipe – it is an unusual one for me to make and post about – it has meat in. It is typically made with pork, I made a pork version when in France this winter for friends and it is outstanding. I repeat OUTSTANDING. Sorry was I shouting? I also make a prawn version, but you could use whatever you choose, chicken would work well too. The only things I would recommend is that you may want to reduce the number of dried chillies in the paste – I’ll leave that to your discretion, and if using prawns you may want to reduce the amount of vinegar in the sauce mix from 3 to 2 tablespoons.

I’m giving you the recipe for pork Vindaloo; with the prawn one I divide the paste mixture into two, and marinate the prawns in half of it, and then add the other half of the paste to the curry sauce to cook in thoroughly. I then add the prawns into the pan with about 10 minutes to go to final cooking.

I checked out a few versions of this curry and my favourite by a long way is Das Sreedharan’s version, a Keralan and a genius in the kitchen.

Pork or Prawn Vindaloo – Das Sreedharan

Serves 6- 8

Ingredients ~

  • 900g / 2llb boneless pork, cubed
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 onions, peeled, halved and sliced
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 tbsp wine or cider vinegar
  • Salt to taste

For the Vindaloo spice paste ~

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 4 dried red chillies
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves
  • 2.5cm / 1 inch piece of cinnamon
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 2.5cm / 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 3 tbsp wine or cider vinegar

Instructions ~

  • Make the spice paste – Add the cumin seeds, dried chillies, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns to a spice mill and grind them to a fine powder.
  • Transfer the spice powder to a blender and add the garlic, ginger, and vinegar and grind to a smooth paste. You may need to add some water to get the paste smooth enough – I generally do.
  • Place the pork in a large bowl and add the spice paste, stir and coat the meat well. Cover and set aside to marinate for at least an hour, preferably two.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the garlic and cook for a minute. Then add the onions and gently cook for about 10 minutes until the onions are golden
  • Add the turmeric, chilli powder and stir them in to the mix, next add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and vinegar, mix well and then add the marinated pork and a little salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
  • Pour in 275ml / 9 floz of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes or until the meat is cooked through and the sauce is nice and thick.
  • Serve with plain rice

So for those of you miles away from a great Indian restaurant or Goa, for those that have never tried a Vindaloo before, for those that like curries and have the basics in the kitchen at the ready, for those that have to have meat, Vindaloo, Vindaloo, Vindaloo …….

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41 thoughts on “Vindaloo

  1. All right, Claire. You’re on! When I get back from my visit with my Zia, I’m going to make this dish. I pretty much have everything but the protein and the tomatoes. In the meantime, I’ve pinned it so that I don’t lose it. I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out. I can’t wait!

    • YES!!
      Now I’m starting to worry with the responsibility of it all :) And yes I’d love to hear what you think, it’s an unusual curry but very distinctive and tasty. I have to say that I really enjoyed it with the pork, which is after all the authentic protein used in it. But heck who’s counting!

  2. Whenever I am hungry for something flavorful, different from the ordinary, Indian food is what comes to mind and off we go to a favorite restaurant serving authentic dishes. I’ve never made Indian cuisine at home, but your recipe sounds doable and tasty so maybe it’s the place to start.

  3. Mmmm, when I’m through this busy stretch and ready to make a “non-pragmatic” curry, I’ll have to try this! In grad school my advisor had done field work in India and his was soooo good.

  4. How interesting about the name and origins! Never knew that. Have just eaten a fabulous curry I made with my best friend who came for the weekend and was hoping to enjoy the leftovers as Big Man is (was) not a huge curry fan. He just polished the lot off for lunch and has decided that curry really does have something good going for it so I will make this one very soon!

    • Too funny that Big Man got in there before you! That sometimes happens here, but the competition is a bit tougher as we are both fans.
      Chica, the Portugese, Goan, Indian influences run through this dish – and make it an absolute classic.

  5. So far, I’ve limited my Indian cooking to fairly tame dishes but this vindaloo looks like it would be winner. Love the photographs especially the little pots of condiments.

    • fantastic Sharyn, we ran out of tomatoes from the freezer a while ago, it wasn’t a great season, I do have one lot left waiting for an yummy Italian style dish. I hope you like the curry, it is very distinctive what with the vinegar in it, so you may want to go easy, but I guess that depends on your taste buds

  6. I love curry anything…and the heat is fine! I was given some wonderful Indian spices from a friend, and one was called Vindaloo…I think it must have the spices already in combination. I was pleased with the gift and the company, Penzeys Spices, is reputable. I’ve been happy with the others, but I’m not sure the purchased Vindaloo combination could match the ingredients you’ve listed. The chilies and ginger in combo must be really good! Debra

    • Hi Debra, great to meet another curry fan :) your Vindaloo spice mix sounds great and I’m sure would work really well, you just may want to jazz it up a little with some extras like ginger and garlic :) Hope you have a great week

    • Hi Shimon, it’s a very distinctive type of curry, and I’m guessing would work well with chicken. I’ve been trying to work out what kind of fish would be good – I think a nice oily one, I’ll have to experiment a little!

  7. That sounds great I love Indian food and make alot myself but always steared clear of vindaloo because I dont like to much heat. I have taken down your recipe and I will definitely give this ago but I will add less chillies.
    Thank you

    • Hi Gaynor, I’ve always avoided Vindaloo for the same reasons, but now I’ve made my own a few times I’m much more convinced. As well as reducing the chillies you may want to go easy on the vinegar too, a bit at a time would work, until you have a flavour that you like.

  8. Yes, my darling, you may have another convert here–I’ve always bought into the one-note hotness routine, and not found it compelling as a result. I’m ready for all of that to change. Yum!

  9. Pingback: Search engines, post titles, a washing machine and big banana conundrum | Promenade Plantings

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