Just the name alone can elicit a strong reaction from a Briton, or anyone else for that matter who has grown up or come of age surrounded by Indian food.
Once upon a time, the vindaloo was the boundary, the frontier, a place where only the foolhardy adventurer or the toughened veteran would dare to tread.
Ferociously hot, and somewhat bitter, this was serious eating, hardcore, even. To eat a vindaloo was to make a statement, a proclamation of the fact that one was cool, hard, sophisticated, any slightly loopy all at the same time.
Then, as always, familiarity and overexposure lessened the mystique.
The restaurant scene needed to create a new kind of culinary anti-hero, and so the goalposts were moved, and the Phall was ushered in.
The restaurant vindaloo has its roots in Goa, the former Portuguese colony. Originally the dish was named “vinha d’alhos“, and, as the name suggests, was a meat dish (usually pork) marinated in a mixture of wine and garlic.
Over time, local, Goan influences crept in, and the dish gained additional spices, and a fistful of chillies to boot. The name morphed into the one we know today.
Fast forward to the establishment of the Indian restaurant scene in Britain in the post-war period, and, as Pat Chapman explains in “The New Curry Bible”, those early restaurateurs wanted / needed a hot dish on their menu to tickle the taste buds of their more daring customers.
Those early chef-owners were mostly Punjabi, and to them the food of Southern India was the benchmark for “hot”, and so the restaurant’s Vindaloo became the datum for chilli intensity.
This was achieved by simply taking a medium hot curry, and jacking it up with extra chilli powder. A misunderstanding of the root of the “aloo” part of the name meant that more often than not the restaurant version of the dish came with potato added, due to the fact that in many of the languages of India “aloo” does indeed translate as “potato”.
This recipe is heavily based on Mr. Chapman’s, and will come as a bit of a shock to those more familiar with the curry-house version.
Give it a go – I reckon you’ll be pleasantly surprised…
Goan Pork Vindaloo
1kg pork stewing meat
For the marinade
- 4 dl alcohol free red wine – see Notes
- 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 15 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 65g sambal oelek – see Notes
- 1½ tsp salt
For the masala
- 2 tsp of cloves
- 1 tsp cardamom seeds
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 dl fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped
- 4 bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
- coconut oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a non-metallic bowl, combine the pork, alcohol free red wine, red wine vinegar, crushed garlic, sambal oelek, and salt. Place in the fridge to marinate for at least 8 or 9 hours, but no longer than 60 hours.
- Heat 4 tbsp of coconut oil in a large, non-stick lidded pan over medium heat. Add the cloves, cardamom seeds, cinnamon sticks, and cumin seeds. Stir fry for 1 minute.
- Add the onions, and stir fry for a further 3 minutes. Add the chopped chillies, and stir fry for a further 3 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic, and stir fry for a further 3 minutes.
- Add the meat and its marinade to the pan. Top up the liquid level with water, to the extent that it just covers the meat.
- Bring the contents of the pan up to a boil, then drop down to a low simmer.
- Cook until the meat is tender – 1½ hours or so should see you about right, but keep a close eye on things after the 1 hour mark.
- When the meat is done to your satisfaction, stir in the chopped fresh coriander (cilantro).
- Remove the pan from the heat. Serve, with a side of cauliflower rice, or some Paleo naan bread.
- According to your preference, the alcohol free red wine could be replaced by ordinary red wine, or even an unsweetened red grape juice.
- Sambal oelek is a blend of puréed hot red chillies, vinegar, water, and salt.