2 February 2009

Pork Vindaloo

This is a recipe from the Fat Free Indian Cookery book by Mridula Baljekar and was chosen by Lundulph for his special fancy dinner this week-end. He's had a nasty cold and I thought I'd cheer him up a bit.


As it turned out we had to do it on Monday, but the severe weather conditions (for the UK) worked in our favour in that we both stayed home and could start cooking at a decent hour.

So first of all be warned - this dish requires marinating, so at least 2-3 h and preferably overnight.


1 kg boneless leg of pork
4 green cardamom pods
5 large dried medium hot chillies
2.5 cm piece of cinnamon stick
4 cloves
0.5 tsp mustard seeds
0.5 tsp fennel seeds
0.5 tsp black pepper corns
1 tsp crushed very hot chillies (optional)
2 tbsp pureed ginger
5 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp cider vinegar
300 ml medium sweet cider
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp salt
220 g onion
400 ml hot water
1 tsp dark soft brown sugar
1 tsp tamarind paste

  1. Remove all the rind from the pork, along with all visible fat and as much of the sinewy bits as possible, then cut into 3 cm cubes and put in a bowl.
  2. Cut up the dried chillies into smallish pieces. Take out the cardamom seeds from their pods, break up the cinnamon stick, then roast on low heat together with the cloves, the mustard seeds and the black pepper corns and additional crushed chillies for about a minute, stirring constantly. The mustard seeds will start popping and jumping out of the pan. Then set aside on a plate to cool.
  3. Grind the cooled down spices in a spice or coffee mill.
  4. Mix the ground spices with the pureed ginger and press in the garlic, then add the cider vinegar. Stir in well, then pour over the pork and coat it thoroughly and leave to marinate.
  5. Place the pork with its marinade in a non-stick large pan and fry on medium heat until the meat is sealed.
  6. Add the cider, bring to the boil and cover up and leave to cook for 35-40 minutes until the liquid has reduced to resemble thin batter. Stir occasionally.
  7. Take off the lid, increase the heat a bit and let the last of the liquid evaporate - about 3-4 minutes.
  8. Stir in the paprika and the salt, then add the onion and 50 ml of the hot water and cook for a further 4-5 minutes.
  9. Add the rest of the water, the sugar and the tamarind paste, cover again and let simmer for another 10-12 minutes.
  10. Serve with brown basmati rice.

I happened to have dried chillies - they were fresh when I bought them... My mistake was that I cut them too coarsely and the same goes for the cinnamon, so I had trouble grinding them - I spent way too much time pushing them into the coffee grinder (used only for spices!) with a chopstick. No way I'll be doing that next time, I'm sure ready ground spice collection will do fine!

I coated the bits of pork and left for some 20 odd hours to marinate in the fridge. A bad mis-calculation on my part, but things turned out OK in the end.

Lundlulph's verdict was that it had good heat, not too much, so that you could taste the other ingredients, but sufficient enough to slow you down so you can enjoy it. He also thought the pork ended up tasting a bit gamey.

My theory is that the leg was from an old-ish or well exercised pig, either of which is good, implying some sort of decent free-range life.

We had Fetzer Syrah Rose wine with it, to match the strong flavours. I bought a whole crate of it a couple of years ago, it's quite intensely flavoured and was very en vogue for a Summer wine then. It worked out rather nice and we're working our way through a second bottle already. I also had some broccoli, but I forgot to steam it in time, so we skipped it. While finishing off the vindaloo, we had some popadoms with sweet chilli dip.

Seems we'll be spending another day at home tomorrow, the snow's settling in, but not showing any signs of melting.

And an interesting thing about vindaloo - it's originally a Portugese dish - vin originating from the word for vinegar and aloo in this case coming from the word for garlic. Heavily transformed in the hands of the Indian cooks, I think this may well be a repeat recipe. I think it would be nice to try with game meat as well, should work out nicely.

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