Vindaloo is such an iconic dish in the UK. But if you want something that resembles a Goan Vindaloo, you need to make it at home. While the UK expects it very hot, in Goa it’s more about the flavour.
The name Vindaloo originates from the Portuguese for “wine vinegar” and “garlic” (vinha de alhos). And the dish combines the Portuguese method of cooking meat in vinegar, with Indian spices. Vinegar adds a flavour uncommon in most Indian cookery, but it does work well with the spices. Above all it balances the flavours, delivering a pleasant tanginess. Also important to a Vindaloo is chilli pepper. Introduced in India by the Portuguese in the 15th century, chilli is still important in most Indian cookery today.
Vindaloo may have originated in Goa, but vinegar was not something used in Indian cooking. Toddy, a fermented alcoholic drink from coconut palm sugar, most likely replaced the Portuguese wine vinegar. Consequently, the dish would have been a little fruity and sweet. In this recipe, cider vinegar and jaggery (or brown sugar) are used to recreate this.
The Portuguese mainly chose pork for their Vindaloo, while the British preferred duck. However, chicken or beef are other options. And for vegans and vegetarians, chickpeas work well too.
Goan Pork Vindaloo
Serves 4 (or 6 with side dishes)
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp bright red paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp garam masala
800g boneless pork shoulder, back fat removed, cut into 3-4 cm cubes
¼ tsp brown mustard seeds, whole
¹/₈ tsp fenugreek seed, whole
5 fresh curry leaves, if available
100g red onion, peeled and sliced into half rings
¾ tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and crushed to a pulp
1 medium tomato, peeled and chopped
40 ml cider vinegar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp jaggery or soft brown sugar
In a small bowl, mix together the turmeric, cumin, paprika, coriander, cayenne pepper and garam masala, and set aside.
Pour 1½ tbsp of cooking oil into a large pan on a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the pork cubes and lightly brown on all sides, 2-3 minutes in total. Remove to a plate and set aside.
Put the mustard and fenugreek seeds into the hot fat. As soon as the mustard seeds start popping, in just a few seconds, add the curry leaves and onion. Stir fry until the onion is starting to brown on the edges, about 3-4 minutes. Now add the garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute. Add the mixed spices from the bowl and stir fry for 30 seconds, adding more oil if it is too dry. Then add the tomatoes and cook, stirring regularly and scraping the bottom of the pan, for 2-3 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened.
Return the browned pork to the pan with the vinegar, salt, sugar and enough water to just cover the meat. Stir and bring to the boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and reduce the liquid until the sauce has thickened and the pork is cooked. Turn up the heat a little towards the end, if required, to reduce the sauce further.
Serve with rice.