Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Bollywood Cooking: A Goan Tangy Pork Vindaloo with Cashew Nuts

Pork Vindaloo by Meeta Wolff-1

There is often a myth around Indian curries: long lists of ingredients and spices make it complicated and puzzling especially for those who are not familiar with Indian cooking. This however is not the case. Indian cooking is not all about crushing and grinding spices before the actual cooking can begin. As a matter of fact let me unveil the myth and disclose that an everyday curry can be cooked using 3 spices and in 15 minutes. 

At the heart of every Indian curry is the spices. While we have a wide range of spices and spice blends, the focus however lies mainly on the seven basic or headnote spices, which every Indian cook will know how to use, mix and blend to give their curries a palatable and unique flavor. They know which spices blend well with each other and impart the perfect aromas, which ones, if combined and heated will turn bitter and each Indian cook will have their own particular reliable blend that they always reach for.

Pork Vindaloo by Meeta Wolff-3

Tip: I have broken down many of the spices used in the Indian kitchen in my Indian spice guide  The guide gives an overview of all the spices we use in our kitchens, making it easier to understand how basic spices are combined with complementary or secondary spices for a different balance of flavors in your curries.

Last time I took you through the basics of a chicken curry breaking down how we Indians tackle our meat curries. My chicken curry was a North Indian specialty. This time I am taking you further south to the shores of Goa, where the cuisine has such a seductively distinct combination of spicy, sweet and sour flavors that nothing quite compares.

Four hundred years of Portuguese colonialism have had an undeniable influence on the Goan cuisine often culminating in divine harmony. The cuisine uses ingredients familiar to south Europe. Meats and chicken, seafood and spicy sausages and the entire spectrum of vegetables result in such delicacies like Sorpotel, Chicken Xacuti, Prawn Balchao or the acclaimed Pork Vindaloo.

Pork Vindaloo by Meeta Wolff-5

Hinduism and Christianity are the two religions that have shaped the way the cuisine has developed over the years. While there are a few similarities in the foods of the two communities the vast differences are more predominant. Goan Christian food has been chiefly regulated by the Portuguese and by it’s oversees settlements. Catholics include beef and pork into their diets, which is taboo in most Hindu households.

The cooking methods of traditional Goan food tend to be a long a process as it is believed the longer a dish takes to make, the better it will taste. Grinding is always a big part of any recipe. The style in which each community makes its pastes and gravies completely varied. Even though they will have the same name, their taste, flavor, aroma, texture and color can be completely different. The Christians use more vinegar in their cooking, while the Hindus use tamarind and kokum to achieve the desired sharpness in a dish. Southern Goans like to grind their spices all at once, whereas northern Goans grind them individually.

Now this might seem a direct contradiction to what I mentioned in the first couple of paragraphs, I want to show you that it is possible to make even the celebrated pork vindaloo as an everyday curry using 3 spices without loosing any of the flavor.

Never put raw spices into an Indian dish, they need to be dropped into hot oil to allow the aromatic oils from the spices to be released and work their magic. In this vindaloo I have used cumin seeds as my headnote spice, which when heated transform and release their nutty and citrusy flavor.

Pork Vindaloo by Meeta Wolff-2

A vindaloo does not have to be burning hot. The fiery version of the dish served in many Western restaurants often wrongly portrays it as a spicy hot dish to the restaurant goers. Traditionally it was a vinegar and garlic based watery stew made with pork or meat in Portugal. The word “Vindaloo” is derived from the Portuguese word “Vinha De Alhos” from the two main ingredients in the dish, which were "Vinho" meaning wine or wine vinegar, and "Alhos" which meant garlic. After the Portugese introduced the vindaloo in India, it was completely revamped with the addition of spices and chilies. Over the years it has morphed into one of the spiciest and most popular curry dishes all over the world.

In this version of vindaloo I used cayenne pepper for the flavor and aroma. We do not add chilies in Indian curries to make the curry hot, but rather to give the dish a nutty, roasted and smoky aroma and flavor rather than heat. The cayenne pepper provides all these bold flavors which hold up magnificently with the tangy vinegar.

A vindaloo does not have much gravy compared to other curries. It tastes wonderful if eaten a day or two after it is cooked since the vinegar and other flavors are absorbed by the meat, making this a super plan ahead meal. The pungency of the dish can be reduced or increased according to taste by increasing or decreasing the chili powder. But be careful not to lose the vinegar flavor, because after all the Vindaloo gets its distinctive taste because of the vinegar in it.

I’ve also added cashews to the curry making it richer and super to serve to dinner guests. Portuguese traders brought cashew nuts to Goa, which were prized by the settlers who used them to top many of their dishes. In this vindaloo they are stir-fried adding a nutty-roasted element to the dish. Overall each component imparts a special flavor, making this a tangy, nutty, full-bodied, with some heat, curry for curry lovers who do not want to go through the hours of grinding, crushing and cooking.

From the shores of Goa let me whisk you to the the Veneto in the heart of of the Prosecco DOCG  region.

Venice2014-GOLD-Sidebar-SquareVenice Food Photography & Styling Workshop

I have collaborated with Jeanne Horak-Druiff again and together we want to take you away with us to the gorgeous prosecco region just outside of Venice. You will find all the details of the Venice Food Photography and Styling Workshop on the announcement page with a preliminary programme and what the workshop includes. We've put together a pretty fantastic schedule, which comprises an interactive, stimulating and enjoyable programme, during which participants will learn the fundamental elements of food photography as well as the principles food styling.
Dates for the workshop: 2-3 May 2014
Registrations can be made via the registration form here.

 

Recipe: Goan Tangy Pork Vindaloo with Cashews

Printable version of recipe here

Pork Vindaloo by Meeta Wolff-1

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes + 60 minutes marinating time
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 115 ml white wine vinegar
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons rape seed oil
  • 2 red onions, coarsely chopped
  • 30g cashew nuts
  • 1 kg boneless pork, from the shoulder, cut into cubes
  • 125 ml coconut milk
  • Seasoning to taste
  • Handful coriander leaves, chopped

Method:

  1. Place the pork pieces in a large dish. Pour the vinegar and add the garlic, coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper, turmeric and season. Rub into the meat and leave to marinate for an hour.
  2. While the meat is marinating, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the whole cumin seeds and allow to crackle and release the perfume for about 30 seconds, then add the onions and cashews and cook together, stirring occasionally. Cook until the onions are caramelized and golden and the nuts are toasted. This should take about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. With a slotted spoon remove the pork from the marinade reserving the liquid. Set the meat aside to drain. Pour the marinade into the skillet. Cook the tangy sauce over a medium heat, stirring frequently to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
  4. When the vinegar has evaporated add the pork and cook for 2 minutes, searing the meat. Add about 115 ml of water and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom to make sure all the good bits come off. Bring the mixture to a quick boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer gently for about 30 minutes until the pork is tender and succulent. Stir from time to time.
  5. Stir in the coconut milk, increase the heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  6. Check the seasoning, sprinkle with coriander leaves and serve hot with platters of perfumed rice, warm soft nans, and chutney and pickles.
Notes
You will notice I do not add any chilies in the vindaloo. Instead I rely on cayenne pepper to impart the heat and the zest gives the vindaloo a fantastic boost. A vindaloo does not have to be burning hot in my opinion, but a bit of fieriness is required. Please by all means adjust this to your own taste.

Verdict

Pork Vindaloo by Meeta Wolff-4

I absolutely adore this curry. It's so magnificently flavorful, filled with gorgeous aromas. It had us literally licking the plates clean. Make this for a dinner party as it can be made the evening before and stored in the fridge. You'll see that the vindaloo will only benefit in flavor. Serve this with lovely, fluffy perfumed rice and warm naans or rotis. Add some mango chutney for an extra flavor level.

Let me tell you a little about my favorite mango chutney. If you love your chutneys then there can only be one - Geeta's by Geeta Samtani, who has created an awesome premium quality mango chutney that boasts on big flavor. With whole spices and chunks of mangoes I have to say this is really by far the best chutney I have tasted and believe me I have gone through many. It's like homemade chutney, capturing genuine flavors that I remember when my nani made chutney at home. Geeta's also has another chutney that I am literally mad about their Papaya and Orange Chutney is simply to sink-into-and-eat-with-a-spoon kind of chutney. Geeta's chutney and Spice & Stir mixtures are widely available in the UK but I am told they are stocking select grocery stores here in Germany, Holland, Switzerland and Austria. Make sure you grab a few jars!

Connect

This section of the post is reserved for me to share bits and pieces, finds and interesting things I come across as I surf the web. It might be a quote, a picture a moving post, interesting news and announcements, whatever makes me connect with you.

More Indian Curries from What's For Lunch, Honey?:

AchaariAloo 03 framed[3] EggCurry03b-framed[2] MutterPaneer_0041CRMeetaK2a_thumb
Aachari Alu / Potatoes in mango chutney Egg Curry in a Creamy Coconut Gravy Mutter Paneer – Indian Cheese with Peas in a Creamy Tomato Sauce


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2013 Meeta Khurana Wolff unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

7 comments :

  1. Thanks so much for the compliments, kind words and for the mention! I am happy you liked my pictures.

    This dish looks so scrumptious! Indian curries are simply fantastic.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. It looks beautiful and i bet the taste is awesome too!

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  3. I would love to go to India and see (and taste) the portuguese legacy. Being myself portuguese, I reckom it would be very interesting. Plus, I'm passionate about indian cuisine :)

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  4. Meeta, thank you for including me in this week's Connect. Guess what ~ even though I make homemade ravioli, cooking Indian food has always intimidated me, for the very reason you mention: long ingredient lists and all the homemade spice mixtures. But reading your post makes me think I can do it. Also, the historical/geopolitical/religious context of the Goan curry is fascinating. Thank you for sharing.

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  5. These are awesome! I love Indian food, I've been making a few here and there - not sure how authentic it is since I'm not Indian - but it tastes good so that's all that matters. Thanks.

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  6. HIi Meeta,
    Wow!!! The recipe looks good!!! I love Vindaloo, like you have said the can recipe and style of cooking can vary from one place to the other, I have even seen people adding potato into Vindaloo too. Your recipe is really good!!!

    I am a chef and I am from India, and I have just recently started blogging too. My website is http://www.saltandtamarind.net/.

    Thank you!


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Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy your stay here and that I was able to make this an experience for your senses.

Hugs
Meeta