Saturday, May 6, 2017

Goan Pork Vindaloo

Last year I made Indian food a lot. I mean a LOT. I don't think a month went by that I didn't make something Indian. So last year in January I made a Goan Pork Vindaloo, and here it is, May 2017, and more than a year later and I am finally getting to a blog post. I guess I put off blogging about a few really great dishes, just because since I did so much Indian cooking last year I thought I really had to get more variety in here. So this blog is about the Vindaloo, and I have a couple of other recipes, one for a pork curry from Coorg, and another is a chicken curry from Telangana. I will get to them soon, as I would love to make them again.

Goan Pork Vindaloo
Goan Pork Vindaloo
As is usual with a new dish, I research it first, seeing what people do - and true to form, outside of a very few ingredients, the recipes and ingredients are vastly different from one recipe to the next. I finally came down to selecting ingredients and spices mainly from two recipes. One recipe is terribly long, and the other is terribly short. For the same basic recipe! So I look through, select what sounds good to me, discard what does not, and put together a mixture that most often turns out really great. Since all the ingredients are found in SOME version of the recipe, somewhere, I feel it is an authentic enough version of this dish.

Pork is not a meat eaten in most of India, but the state of Goa on the lower-western side of the country was colonized by the Christian Portuguese, and their foods and habits were mixed into the culture there. Thus, pork came to be eaten in this area of the country. I love pork anyway, and it is nice to see pork in an Indian recipe. I had never made a "vindaloo" before. My understanding was that vindaloo was a fiery hot and spicy dish, and this is indeed so, although if spicy heat is not your thing, simply reduce the amounts of the hot spice added to the recipe. My recipe is in no way over the top spicy, though it does have some. Other than that, I had no real clue to what constituted a vindaloo. Wikipedia has this to say:

" . . . derived from the Portuguese carne de vinha d'alhos (literally "meat in garlic wine marinade"), is a dish of meat (usually pork) marinated in wine and garlic."
Goan Pork Vindaloo
Goan Pork Vindaloo
Though the Portuguese sailors' version of what made a "vinha d'alhos" (which the Indians found easier to pronounce "vindaloo) is nothing at all like what the Indianized version came to be, I really happen to love the Goan style of this dish. Once looking at the ingredients I had chosen for my vindaloo, indeed it is pork marinated in wine (vinegar) and garlic. Outside of that, I guess you'll have to give it a try and see just how delightful it is.

The dish calls for tamarind paste, which, granted, is not in everyone's list of pantry items, but I do happen to have it in mine. I have both the tamarind pods and a plastic jar of tamarind paste, which is very thick. I used the paste in this dish, and used a teaspoon if this thick stuff mixed into water to dissolve. I could have taken a few of the whole pods, peeled back the brittle outer casings and soaked them for a half hour or so, then squeezed and pressed through a sieve. Either way would work. If you do not own tamarind, add in more lime juice or red wine vinegar. The dish is meant to have a sour quality.

Curry Leaf Plant
Curry Leaf Plant
Another ingredient that I did not have on hand at the time of making this recipe, was the curry leaves. Murraya koenigii, or curry leaf, is a bush-like shrubby plant with lots of long stemlets with leaves that run on either side of the stem. The leaves have a vaguely citrusy quality and add a lovely flavor to a dish. I found fresh leaves on Amazon (of course) and ordered them. They can be frozen, then pull out what is needed for a recipe (usually about one stemlet of leaves). They do turn slightly blackish in the freezer, but maintain their fresh flavor. Drying the leaves leaves them relatively tasteless, so they are best frozen, unless you happen to live in a more temperate climate and can grow your own. When I lived in Florida, I had a couple of good sized plants and used them often.

Goan Pork Vindaloo

Goan Pork Vindaloo
Goan Pork Vindaloo

Serves 4 

2 pounds pork tenderloin, in small cubes
2 - 3 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons brown mustard seeds
2 onions, finely chopped
4 - 6 cloves garlic, minced
10 fresh curry leaves, optional
2 teaspoons Tandoori Spice
2 Indian Bay Leaves / Tej Patta
1½ teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon black cardamom seeds
6 whole cloves
10 black peppercorns
1-inch true cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon Indian pure ground chili powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder or 2 tablespoons fresh turmeric, grated
2 - 4 green chilies, minced, optional
⅓ cup red wine vinegar or lime juice
2 tablespoons palm sugar or brown sugar
1 tablespoon tamarind paste (if very thick variety, dissolve 1 teaspoon in 2 tablespoons water)
6 - 8 cloves garlic, smashed
1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced

Make the Marinade: Place the first 7 marinade ingredients into a dry skillet over medium high heat and stir constantly until the spices are very fragrant, but not smoking. Turn them out onto a plate to cool.

Once slightly cooled, pour the spices into a blender container with the turmeric and pure chili powder. Blend to a fine powder, then add in the remaining marinade ingredients and blend to a smooth paste. Combine the marinade with the pork pieces and stir to mix well, then refrigerate in a sealed container of zip-top bag for 8 to 48 hours.

Making the Vindaloo: Heat the oil or ghee in a large skillet. Add in the brown mustard seeds and cook, stirring and swirling the pan until the seeds begin to pop. Add in the onion and minced garlic with the curry leaves and cook until onions are soft and translucent. Add in the Tandoori Spice and Tej Patta with the salt and stir for a few seconds, then add in the pork with its marinade and add just enough water to make a stew-like consistency. Bring to boil, lower heat, cover and simmer until the pork is cooked through, about 20 - 25 minutes for tenderloin meat. If using other pork meat, simmer for 45 to 50 minutes. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice if desired. 

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest at AHOFpin. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.