Vindaloo has become one of my favourite curries. I love the combination of the spicy heat from the dried chillies and the piquancy from the unusual ( for a curry) addition of vinegar. It's a beautiful demonstration of culinary cultures - Portuguese & Indian - colliding and merging to create interesting combinations in the cooking pot.
Mr A & I were fortunate enough to travel South India two years ago. Goa was unavoidable on our train routes and hence we had to make a stop over in the notoriously hippy province famous for beach trance parties and young tourists generally looking for a western experience in an exotic environment. To say I wanted to spend as little time of our already short vacation in Goa would be an understatement and completely understandable when there were temples, vast food markets, more temples and sacred places to discover.
As life often loves to demonstrate, joy can be found in the most unlikely of places. Particularly when you are not looking for it. Goa ended up being one of the highlights of our trip. We steered clear of beaches and hippified bars and instead found a part of India that was rich in diversity, colour and flavours - pretty much like the whole of India if I must be honest. Of course we sampled as much of the local delicacies, including Vindaloo, as we could. And this definitely contributed to our favouriting the Portuguese influenced enclave that is Goa.
Whenever I make this at home, which is fairly often, I always light some incense and allow the mixed smells to fill the house offering me an indulgent, nostalgic trip back to those magical experiences .....
Vindaloo : Goan Pork Curry
This recipe is one I tweaked but originally sourced from an incredible tome of Indian Cooking called simply enough : India Cookbook (published by Phaidon.) The author Pushpesh Pant is worthy of a mention just for his name, but he offers an inspiring resource that I turn to time & time again
750g - 1kg pork stewing cuts
100ml vegetable oil
3 onions - peeled & chopped
15-20 curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon jaggery / brown sugar
1 sachet / 50g tomato paste
1 pack Food Maker Merchant's special spice mix
OR 10 dried chillies, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 6 cloves, 1 cinnamon quill, 10 black peppercorns, 1/4 star anise and 1 teaspoon poppy seeds all ground to a fine powder.
1 x 5cm piece fresh ginger - peeled & finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves - peeled & finely chopped
1 tablespoon Tamarind Extract / squeeze a fresh lime
4 - 6 teaspoons white / malt vinegar
In a bowl mix together the pork pieces, spice mix and vinegar. Allow to marinade for 20 minutes to an hour.
In a large heavy based pot heat the oil until hot and first add in the curry leaves. Cook for about 30 seconds then add in the chopped onions and fry until soft & translucent. Now tip in the pork, scraping the bowl clean to get all the spices and vinegar out and cook for 5-6 minutes. Add in the ginger & garlic and fry for about a minute before adding in the tomato paste. Continue frying for another 5-6 minutes stirring often to prevent the spices form sticking too much and burning. Lastly stir in the jaggery and tamarind, pour over a litre of water and bring to the boil. When it starts to boil, lower the temperature, pop on a lid and allow the pork to simmer slowly for 1 and a half hours. Alternative you can transfer the pot with the lid on into a 160degC hot oven but only if your pot is one suited for oven use. When the pork is soft & tender allow it to cool down before removing any bones or fat tht you don't want to serve.
This dish is best made the day before, but super delicious eaten the day it is made if you can't wait.