The peculiar place of vindaloo, a fierily aromatic speciality of Goa in standard tradition might be summed up by the 1998 World Cup soccer anthem of the identical title, whose irritatingly catchy refrain references the curry no fewer than 11 instances. As the Observer identified, its authors, the “prank art collective” Fat Les, “persuaded, among others, a lot of xenophobic, racist Little England football supporters to celebrate an item of Indian cuisine as a quintessential expression of Englishness”. This is regardless of Goa having been a former Portuguese colony and one of many few elements of India that by no means noticed British rule.
Yet the vindaloo with which most Brits are most acquainted – the most well liked rung on the generic korma, tikka masala, madras ladder – bears little resemblance to the fragrant, pickle-sour unique. Dan Toombs, writer of The Curry Guy, dubs them “eight-pint vindaloos”, after the quantity of lager wanted to complete 1. As chef Vivek Singh observes, although vindaloo might be one of many best- recognized Indian dishes, “it’s also one of the most misunderstood”.
Thought to be a corruption of the Portuguese carne de vinha d’alhos, or meat cooked in wine vinegar and garlic, an genuine, tangy vindaloo tingles the tongue with pepper, clove and different spices, slightly than the one-dimensional warmth of chilli powder. So until you’ve obtained a Goan specialist close by, if you wish to attempt the true factor, your finest guess is to make it at dwelling.
The Portuguese have lengthy been huge on pig, making vindaloo one of many few Indian curries that’s historically made with pork, although Lizzie Collingham notes in her fascinating historic survey, Curry: A Biography, that the British appreciated it higher with duck – “and so do I”. Madhur Jaffrey additionally makes use of duck, noting that these “paddle freely in the thousands of flooded rice fields”, and that utilizing poultry permits Muslims and meat-eating Hindus to take pleasure in it, too. Rick Stein makes his with shin of beef, “because it matches the beef in India, which can be pretty tough” (in addition to comparatively onerous to come back by, being a sacred beast to the nation’s Hindu majority), whereas chef Cyrus Todiwala sticks with a mixture of pork stomach and shoulder, and Singh to pork leg, with just a little of the bone left in for flavour.
Collingham’s duck breast and the pork leg show the least standard amongst testers – principally, I believe, due to their relative leanness, which makes them liable to dryness after a prolonged tub in vinegar. Richer or better-marbled meats, similar to Jaffrey’s duck leg or Stein’s shin, work rather a lot higher, although I’m going to remain conventional and go for pork shoulder, which has sufficient marbling to stay juicy with out the stomach’s massive chunks of fats, which even a sauce as tangy as this could’t fairly lower by means of. If you should use rooster, go for thigh; lamb lovers can be properly served by shoulder.
Many recipes name for the meat to be marinated in a single day, however the excessive vinegar content material of the marinade makes this a dangerous enterprise: the acetic acid can start to “cook” the proteins in a lot the identical means as citrus does in a ceviche, thereby rendering it powerful. A couple of hours ought to do the job within the flavour division.
Whether or not you employ it to marinate the meat earlier than cooking, each curry begins with a masala, or spice combine – and on this occasion chilli just isn’t the principal ingredient. Though all of them use barely totally different combos and quantities, all of the recipes I attempt include an array of what we would consider as candy spices – cinnamon, cloves and cardamom – plus a hefty hit of black pepper, and the earthy, nutty flavours of cumin, coriander and turmeric. Chilli powder is usually added for color, slightly than warmth, with Jaffrey recommending “bright red paprika” and Stein and Todiwala specifying Kashmiri chilli powder, offered below that title by Indian manufacturers and memorable for its brick-like hue. According to at least one Goan of my acquaintance, vindaloo is outlined by its “beautiful, deep-red masala”, so be liberal with the delicate chilli for optimum authenticity. Jaffrey and Collingham additionally use mustard seeds, which win factors each for his or her pleasing texture and the little pops of bitter heat they launch.
Though the Portuguese would have initially used wine vinegar (or, some speculate, merely wine that had soured on the lengthy voyage over), the dish was shortly tailored to the native palm vinegar, constructed from coconut toddy. Collingham notes that if you will get maintain of it, “it will add a particularly Goan flavour” to the dish. I handle to supply some coconut vinegar, in all probability constructed from coconut water, in an Indian grocers (many Oriental stockists could carry a Filipino model), however as I’m reliably knowledgeable, “it’s really hard to find the legit stuff outside the state of Goa, let alone abroad”, I wouldn’t fear an excessive amount of about looking a bottle down. Singh makes use of a mix of white and malt vinegar, and Stein white-wine vinegar, however the most effective substitute I discover is Jaffrey’s cider vinegar, which has comparable candy notes to the coconut selection.
Todiwala, Stein and Collingham additionally add tamarind liquid, which is fruitier and fewer sharp than vinegar, and offers the dish a extra rounded, much less mouth-puckeringly acidic bitter high quality. I’m with Stein when he says that ready-made tamarind liquids appear to lack the punch of freshly soaked stuff; it’s not onerous to arrange, in spite of everything.
Todiwala describes the dish as “a sort of meaty pickle, rich and intense in flavour”, which can clarify the extraordinary variety of onions in his recipe – however, in actual fact, their sweetness works brilliantly with the tangy vinegar and wealthy, barely fatty meat. Much as I dislike chopping the issues, it’s worthwhile labour right here, particularly if you’ll find the sweeter Indian pink onion; in any other case, yellow ones will work superb. Liberal quantities of garlic and ginger add to the chutney-like impact: slightly than crushing them to a paste, nonetheless, slice them into skinny rounds and strips as Singh suggests, in order that they don’t get misplaced in the entire.
Not everybody makes use of tomatoes, although their candy and bitter flavour appears an ideal match, and so they add a welcome contact of freshness, as do the inexperienced chillies most recipes stick in. If you want your curries sizzling, then be at liberty to mince them, however I desire so as to add them entire, for a milder impact – bear in mind to warn fellow diners about them, until a youthful sibling is coming spherical for dinner, through which case inform them they’re inexperienced peppers.
Jaffrey, Collingham and Todiwala’s recipes all name for curry leaves, a extremely fragrant herb that’s significantly standard in south India. They’re onerous to come back by right here should you don’t have an Indian specialist close by, although it’s possible you’ll discover them in bigger supermarkets – should you do, snap them up, as a result of they freeze fairly properly, and can lend your dish a shiny herbaceous flavour.
Todiwala is of the idea vindaloo must be “sweet from the palm sugar, sour from the vinegar, and hot” – so don’t be shy to mood the sourness with a great spoonful of jaggery or delicate brown sugar should you can’t discover any. Season to style and serve with one thing plain: basmati, pillowy flatbreads or, Jaffrey’s favorite, boiled potatoes and bitter greens. Lager strictly non-obligatory.
The good vindaloo
Prep 15-20 min
Cook 2 hrs
75ml cider vinegar
700g pork shoulder, lower into 3cm chunks
4 tbsp ghee, impartial or coconut oil
500g onions, finely sliced (about 4 medium onions)
60g tamarind pulp
10 garlic cloves, finely sliced
5cm thick size of ginger, lower into slim matchsticks
4 ripe tomatoes, diced
2-4 small inexperienced chillies
10 curry leaves (non-obligatory)
1 tbsp jaggery or delicate brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black mustard seeds
For the masala
2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder or paprika
Seeds of 8 cardamom pods
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp turmeric
5cm cinnamon stick
Grind collectively all of the components for the masala, then stir within the vinegar. Rub into the pork and depart to take a seat for 3 to 4 hours.
Heat the oil in a large, lidded pan over a medium-low flame, and fry the onions till delicate and golden. Meanwhile, soak the tamarind pulp in 120ml of sizzling water for 15 minutes, then gently rub any remaining pulp from the seeds and pressure off the liquid, discarding the solids.
Stir the garlic and ginger into the onions and cook dinner, stirring, for one more 5 minutes, then add the tomatoes, chillies and curry leaves, if utilizing, and cook dinner till the tomatoes begin to break down.
Add the pork and marinade to the pan and switch the warmth as much as medium excessive. Stir properly, add the jaggery, salt and mustard seeds, adopted by the tamarind liquid. Bring to a simmer, cowl tightly, flip the warmth proper down and cook dinner gently for an hour.
Partially take away the lid and cook dinner for one more 30 minutes, till the meat could be very tender and the sauce has thickened.
• Vindaloo, vindaloo: why does this Goan curry have such an iconic place in British tradition, and the place did the traditional curry home model come from if not Goa? Is it finest with pork, prawns or certainly tofu or pheasant, and what do you serve with it?
- Food stylist: Jack Sargeson
Felicity Cloake from theguardian.com