Vindaloo

Vindaloo

Often bearing an (undeserved) reputation for extreme heat,
a Goanese vindaloo is a surprisingly subtle and complex dish that
showcases culinary echoes of colonialism across the centuries.

Origins
Vindaloo is derived from a traditional Portuguese dish called carne vinha de alhos – literally ‘meat with wine and garlic’ – but the dish underwent a subcontinental makeover with palm vinegar, spices and chillies when the Portuguese ruled the coast of Goa as a colony for almost five centuries until 1961. An Anglicised version of vindaloo reigns in British Indian restaurants, but the authentic sweet, sour version is best eaten in Panjim’s backstreets in Goa.

SERVES 4-6

You’ll need
2 large onions, peeled and
sliced
2 tbs cooking oil
4 tbs vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbs finely chopped garlic
1 tbs finely chopped fresh
ginger
1 tbs ground coriander
¼ tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1kg (2lb) pork, cut into bitesized
pieces
1½ cups (375mL) of water
Steamed rice or warm naan
to serve

Masala Paste
¾ tsp roasted fenugreek
seeds
1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
1 tsp peppercorns
6–8 dried chillies, lightly
roasted
4cm (1¼in) stick of cinnamon
2 cardamom pods
2 tsp of water

Cooking Method
1 Saute the chopped onions in 1 tbs of cooking oil until caramelised. Using a blender, blitz the onion mixture until it becomes a paste and set aside.
2 Combine the vinegar and brown sugar and set aside.
3 Fry the mustard seeds in the pan you used for the onions until they sizzle, then add the chopped garlic and ginger and fry for another 2 minutes.
4 Mix in the ground coriander, turmeric powder and salt. Add the pork pieces and fry for around 6–8 minutes until they have browned. Remove and set aside.
5 Make your masala paste by blitzing all the paste ingredients together in a blender or pestle and mortar.
6 In your original pan, add the remaining oil and stir-fry the chopped onion paste and the masala paste for 2 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and sugar mixture and the water.
7 Add the browned pork pieces, and cook until the meat softens and a thick gravy is formed. Serve with steamed rice or warm naan.

Tasting notes
Although a dish with a reputation for extreme heat – largely from its popularity in British curry houses – vindaloo in Goa is more subtle and balanced. A one-dimensional British vindaloo is prepared with a heavy hand on the chilli, but in Goa the dish’s historic roots are more evident. Imparting a distinctive sourness, palm vinegar and garlic replaces the wine vinegar and garlic infusion the Portuguese used to preserve pork on sea voyages. The all-important masala spices – fenugreek, cumin, roasted chilli, cinnamon, peppercorns and cardamom – are layered and distinct, their individual flavours released as essential oils during slow-roasting. Finally, there’s an earthy sweetness from the addition of sugar and ginger. Mop it up with rice or naan.

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