This vindaloo recipe is a lot different to what you’ll find in most curry houses
Growing up in Turlock California, I tasted my share of Portuguese delicacies. The city and surrounding area has a large Portuguese population so it wasn’t difficult to find some pretty amazing food. One of my favourite dishes was called carne de vinho e albos or meat cooked with vinegar and garlic. The meat was usually pork and there were hints of many warming spices such as cumin, chilli powder, black pepper and cinnamon.
I learned as a kid that the recipe was hundreds of years old. In fact, when the Portuguese sent ships to India at the beginning of the fifteenth century, vinho e albos was one of the comfort foods the settlers missed most. At first the invading Portuguese spice merchants were quite disappointed to learn that vinegar, a key ingredient in the dish, was not made in India. After a bit of experimentation, however they found that tamarind pulp and totty – an alcohol made from the sap of the palm tree, could be used with excellent results.
Now along with their favourite recipes, the Portuguese also brought with them recently discovered fruits from the New World which had never been seen let alone cooked with in India. It was the Portuguese that first introduced the Indians to chilli peppers, the spice most of us in the West most associate with Indian food.
Indians loved the spicy chillies and before long three different varieties were being grown all along the west coast of India. One popular Indian poet declared chillies the ‘saviour of the poor’ because they offered a cheap and nourishing way for the poor to add a bit of flavour to their simple dishes of rice and lentils.
Over time, the Indians began to enjoy vinho e albos and it didn’t take long for them to add their own signature to the dish. Chilli peppers were used along with dried ground chillies to create a spicy curry that is now popular all over India. They also added fresh curry leaves which gave the dish a more Goan flavour. It is believed that the name vindaloo is simply an Indian mispronunciation of the Portuguese vinho e albos.
The popular vindaloo you order at your favourite curry house is probably a far cry from this more traditional version. Other than the fact that it is very spicy, the British Indian Restaurant (BIR) vindaloo curry is the same only in name. BIR vindaloos are usually made with chicken or lamb meat and are really just a spicier version of a madras curry.
Some Indian restaurants add potatoes to their vindaloos because they have misinterpreted the name vindaloo. Aloo means ‘potato’ in Hindi.
This traditional sweet and sour vindaloo curry is full of interesting flavours. It is so easy to make and fun to serve.
800g pork let diced into one inch chunks
4 dried red chillies
1 Tablespoon cumin seeds
1 Tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 inch cinnamon stick
20 black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
6 green chillies – finely chopped
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon tamarind paste (or another Tablespoon of vinegar
15 cloves garlic
1 inch piece of ginger
6 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon black mustard seeds
20 fresh curry leaves
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 onion – finely chopped
1 Tablepsoon jaggery or sugar
seasalt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
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In a frying pan, dry fry the red chillies, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, cloves, cinnamon and peppercorns until they begin to smoke lightly.
Remove from the heat and grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder.
Add to the rest of the spice marinade ingredients and blend to a smooth paste.
Pour the paste over the meat and rub it into the flesh.
Cover and allow to marinade for 24 hours.
Heat the ghee over medium heat in a large pan and throw in the black mustard seeds, cinnamon, mustard seeds and curry leaves.
When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the chopped onion and fry until translucent.
Next, brown the meat for a couple of minutes and then reduce the heat to low.
Add the remaining marinade and the rest of the ingredients except the sugar, salt and pepper.
Simmer over low heat until the meat is tender – roughly 45 minutes.
Mix in the sugar and the salt and pepper taste and serve with rice.