Vasco’s Vindaloo Recipe
“I’m off to the gnomes, come and see them”, cried the Maharani as the door slammed behind them.
Skipping across the road to see our diminutive Portuguese friends, mature in years, outlook and taste for food particularly the home grown variety. Tony and Georgina had become surrogate parents to the Maharani, breakfasting together a few times a week on Parma ham, continental cheese and airy bread. I hadn’t seen them for a little while and I had no place to be, so I joined the happy trio.
“What do you like?” whispered the greying Tony, looks carved out of a life of graft typifying the immigrant back story. Reading my quizzical look“I’ll show you”, he continued and beckoned me into the garden which sat in military precision, rows of lettuce, pots of tomatoes, bamboo teepees crawling with beans and large leaved courgettes spreading their ground cover. “Are you supplying Waitrose?” He chuckled silently and led me into the garden shed, pointing to neatly stacked bottles with screw caps, glass coloured across the spectrum and filled with his brew of home made wine. “It’s ready to drink now” he winked. Checking my watch, I declined, “Um I’m sure it is but it’s not even 10:30…” Patting my arm and nodding, “later, maybe later.”
A busy life had kept the decrepit aging process largely at bay for this septuagenarian’s bright disposition. Walking back through the ordered garden reminded me of my school days where ‘home time’ diversions were regularly made to fellow immigrant homes. The DiCaprios for pasta, the Richardsons for chicken, rice and peas, the Szpurs for the Polish chocolate cake and apart from sharing wonderfully delicious immigrant food the common denominator was weed free garden hygiene. Stepping into the kitchen I was struck by the emotion of food ethnicity. Georgina had been in the kitchen since 6am having re-hydrated salt cod, she was busy making Bacalhau com natas a decadent combination of salt cod and cream, one of my favourite Portuguese dishes. Fit for a state banquet or in this case G&T’s family which the Maharani had managed to solder herself into and wangled an evening invitation. In fact it required little social negotiation as is so often the case in immigrant cultures…food is created to share with anyone who crosses the threshold. A spoonful of the dense creamy bacalhau left me in no hesitation but to re-order our evening activities, I know it’s poor form but food promiscuity is one of my few vices apart from Coinbuca. That evening we left the feast fat and happy.
Wondering how to respond with culinary gratitude, I decided on a cross pollination of food culture, Portuguese cuisine and Indian spices. Food which owed its largesse to Portuguese discovery, in fact we owe our deepest heartfelt gratitude to these Iberian adventurers such as Vasco de Gama who brought chillies to the shores of India. Indian Pork vindaloo, meat originally marinated in red wine/vinegar (vin) presumably to loosen the texture of aging meat in a ship’s hull, simmered in garlic (alhos) and chillies amongst other spices to conceal its ripe mood. As with most recipes it’s been altered, modified and in some cases refined. It’s circumnavigated the globe, completed a journey of centuries and it’s waiting for you to discover its warm personality. It’s a gentler version of the fiery curry house rendition and definitely not a companion to 5 pints of Stella...bom apetite.
Serves 6 or just a greedy 2 (tip, cook the night before serving)
- 1kg of diced pork
- Corn oil
- 4 medium onions chopped
- Up to 20 curry leaves
- 1 tsp of brown sugar
- 1 litre of water
- 12 – 20 dried kashmiri chillies (a less fiery variety, yet full of taste)
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 8 cloves (whole)
- ½ star anise
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- 50ml water
- 3 inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tbs tamarind extract/concentrate
- 5 tsp cider vinegar
Rehydrate the chillies in a bowl of water for 15 minutes and then drain.
Pop all the marinade ingredients into a blender and pulse into a paste. Spoon half of it over the pork and rub all over the pork and refrigerate for at least an hour.
In a large pan heat 6 tbs of corn oil over a low heat, add the onions and cook until they’ve softened and become translucent. Add the rest of the marinade paste and fry for about 5 minutes, adding a little water to stop it from sticking. Take the pork from its refrigerated rest and add to the pan, cooking for about 5 minutes until the meat has browned a little. Populate with about a litre of water and continue cooking over a low heat for around 25-30 minutes or until the pork feels spring and firm. Drop in the curry leaves and sugar, simmer for a further 5 minutes. This authentic Indian vindaloo recipe is unlike the bare knuckle fighter usually served in restaurants, a pork curry with intense flavour, leaving your taste buds intact.
Serve this Vindaloo dish with fluffy white basmati rice and petit pois.
Prepared listening to Transglobal Underground's Delta Disco