Although vindaloo is something of an institution in the UK, Pork Vindaloo is almost unheard of. However this is the traditional meat for this dish and most of the other common conceptions about the dish are also wrong.
Firstly it is not originally an Indian dish at all; it was imported by the Portuguese traders who settled in Goa in about 1500 and brought a few things with them. One of them was a pork dish prepared with wine or wine vinegar and lots of garlic. It was called, in Portuguese, Carne de Vinha d' Alhos; vinha for wine, alhos for garlic. And hence the second misconception; that it has anything to do with potatoes, it is an unfortunate linguistic coincidence that aloo is the Hindi word for potato.
The other misconception is that this is necessarily a dish that should remove the skin from your tongue. It certainly didn't in its original form, however the other things that the Portuguese brought with them were Christianity and chilli peppers, which had recently been discovered in Central America.
From this started the evolution of what is now a classic dish, and evolved, it certainly has. Pork vindaloo is rarely seen in the west, we use chicken, lamb and prawns mostly, so it is difficult now to know exactly what a traditional vindaloo actually is. Although the gloop that is served up in most Indian restaurants in the UK can be quite a fine dish, it certainly isn't traditional.
Pork vindaloo started life as a fairly simple dish with not too many ingredients, as it was developed by the Goans it would have acquired spices and, being a hot Southern state, it would have become a very spicy dish. A variety of other ingredients have been added along the way. A common theme is lots of cinnamon, cloves and ginger and this gives the dish a very distinctive taste
I have read (and tried) dozens of vindaloo recipes (only a few of them for pork vindaloo), ranging from the quite simple, which is probably most authentic, to ones with a whole load of extra stuff in them.
My recipe here for the traditional pork vindaloo is quite simple, I do use onions, which may not have been included in the original, but not the array of other ingredients which you will see in some recipes. See also my recipes for chicken vindaloo. lamb vindaloo and (my favourite) prawn vindaloo
A good pork vindaloo needs to be marinated, preferably overnight, so it's not a spur of the moment dish. The result should be a sweet and sour dish and if you want it really hot (it would be in Goa) that's OK you can use lots of chillis; this version is medium hot.
½ teaspoon coriander seeds.
½ teaspoon cumin seeds.
½ teaspoon ground ginger.
Seeds from 3 cardamom pods.
8-10 black peppercorns.
Cinnamon sticks (about 6 to 7 inches in total).
2 bay leaves.
Maybe a little salt.
Notes on Ingredients
Pork. This is a pork vindaloo - the original traditional meat for vindaloo - but please feel free to substitute any other meat you fancy. It can be any cut really, I like to buy a shoulder joint and cut it up, this is very tasty.
Onion. Like I said, perhaps not strictly traditional, but it adds sweetness and body - Optional.
Oil. The best vindaloo is cooked in mustard oil. Ghee is good. Use good quality rapeseed (canola) or sunflower oil if you must.
Chilli. I use two medium strength green chillis and a teaspoon of chilli powder. This is quite hot but not too alarming. Use more or stronger chillies if you feel the overpowering need to be macho about it. Less is also OK.
Salt. As I say in most recipes, some people have a morbid terror of salt. I would only use about 1/4 teaspoon in this quantity anyway. You can leave it out is you wish but it is an important taste in a classic pork vindaloo dish and contributes to the preservative qualities of the marinate.
Vinegar. I have seen recipes which include every type of vinegar; malt, cider or wine (haven't seen balsamic yet but I'm sure it will happen). I prefer red wine vinegar which has a rich sweet and sour taste. I have even used wine with has started to go off slightly.
Heat up a dry frying pan.
Throw in the coriander, cumin, cloves, cinnamon sticks and peppercorns.
Heat for a few seconds until the coriander seeds just start to change colour.
Grind these spices together with the ground ginger, bay leaves, chilli powder, the seeds from 3 cardamom pods and salt.
Mash the garlic.
Chop the pork into cubes.
Add the spices and the garlic to the meat and stir well to evenly distribute.
Put in a non-metallic bowl and pour in enough vinegar to just cover (it should be between 2-4oz).
Leave to marinate.
(Some time later)
Finely chop the onion.
Chop the root ginger into tiny dice.
Finely chop green chillies.
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan - if using mustard oil then it should just start to smoke before cooking.
Toss in the onions, chillies and ginger and fry until the onions are soft and just starting to brown.
Using a slotted spoon, put the meat from the marinade into the pan and seal stirring constantly.
Add the rest of the marinade.
Stir and reduce the heat.
Cover and simmer over a very low heat for about two hours.
Notes on Method
You can, of course use ground spices instead of grinding your own - make sure they are fresh; ground spices over six months old are as much use as sawdust.
Don't use a metallic bowl for this marinade - it will badly affect the taste (and probably the bowl).
You should marinate this at room temperature for about 8 hours or in the fridge for about 24 hours. This will thoroughly impregnate the meat which will then be given a wide berth by any and all bacteria.
I often use a slow cooker for the simmering stage. If simmering in a pan then you may need to add a little water from time to time to stop it drying out and burning.
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