October 20, 2009

Pork Vindaloo paired with Touriga Naçional (Portuguese red grape), Gerwürztraminer, or Pinot Gris

6 dried Ancho Chillies
1 tsp whole Peppercorns (about 10-12)
7-9 whole cloves
1 stick of cinnamon – about 2” long
1 ½ tbsp. Cumin seeds
4 green cardamoms – shelled
1 tsp. Black mustard seeds
12 Garlic cloves
1 ½” piece of Ginger, roughly chopped
¼ cup cider vinegar

2 lbs. Boneless Pork cut into 1 ½” cubes (see note)
Salt and Pepper to season
¼ cup – ½ cup Vegetable oil

½ cup Vegetable Oil
2 large Onions, chopped
3 medium Tomatoes, chopped  (or, 2 tbsp. Tomato Paste)
2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp flour
1 ½ cups Chicken broth (or water...but the broth is better...trust me!)
2 Bay leaves
½ cup cider vinegar (or white vinegar will do)
2 tbsp Feni (see notes below) or Vodka - optional
Salt and Pepper to taste

1)    Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2)    In a heavy skillet over low heat, very lightly roast the peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, cumin seeds, cardamoms and mustard seeds, for about 2 minutes. It just “wakes” up the flavours a bit.
3)    Please the roasted spices, dried Ancho chillies, garlic and ginger in a food processor. First, pulse to grind. Then gradually add the first ¼ cup of cider vinegar, a little at a time until the mixture reaches a paste consistency. Place aside in a bowl.
4)    Season the pork cubes with salt and pepper to taste. In a Dutch Oven or heavy bottom pan, heat about 3 tbsp. (there is fat in the meat as well) of the oil from the ¼ cup as mentioned in the recipe. The heat should be high. Fry the seasoned pork on all sides, making sure to leave some space between the pieces of meat, so that they are not crowded. Adjust the heat to a lower setting if the pan starts scorching. You will need to do about 3 or more batches of frying for all the meat. Place fried meat aside. Scrape all the bits from the bottom of the pan and add to the fried meat.
5)    In the same Dutch oven or heavy bottom pan, heat the 2nd batch of oil (1/2 cup) over high heat.
6)    Add the chopped onions and fry until the edges turn slightly brown.
7)    Add the spice paste and fry with the onions for about 4- 5 minutes, stirring every so often to make sure the mixture does not burn at the bottom of the pan. The spices will release their aromas and you will see the oil rise above the paste in little holes on the surface.
8)    Add the chopped tomatoes or tomato paste and fry for another 2 minutes.
9)    Add the fried pork cubes, sugar and flour. Stir for another minute.
10)    Then add the stock, vinegar and bay leaves and bring to a simmer.
11)    Turn off heat and place the pot in the oven. Slow cook for about 2 hours until the meat is tender.

Serve with white rice. Avoid Basmati Rice or any fragrant variety of rice, as the flavours will compete with each other.

  • Try to get the shoulder cut of the Pork. You could ask your butcher for Pork Shoulder or Boston Shoulder. The meat has a good distribution of fat which helps keep the meat tender.
  • Traditionally, the chillies used for this recipe in Goa are called Kashmiri chillies (chillies from the region of Kashmir, in northern India). When I was growing up, Kashmiri chillies had pronounced flavour and rich colour without over-powering heat. Nowadays, it’s almost impossible to find the same flavours in Kashmiri chillies and the heat quotient is almost be unbearable...I suppose it reflects the political agenda of Kashmir these days! That said, even the local in India find Kashmiri chillies hot. You can imagine how overwhelming the general Western palate might find it! Therefore, I’ve substituted them with dried Mexican Ancho Chillies, whose heat level is gentler and yet the flavours are not compromised.
  • Traditionally, some cooks marinate the meat in the spice paste. But the optimum flavour is achieved when the meat is fried separately and then added to the cooked spices with the onions.
  •  Baking the dish in the oven is not a traditional practice.  However, back in the day this dish was cooked in earthen pots over open stoves. This helped the cooking process and we can get similar results with cooking in the oven. 
  • “Feni” – is a distilled alcohol from Goa. It is made from coconut or the fruit from cashews. The stuff is potent! Feni is not yet available in North America (legally at least!). Hence a humble substitution will be Vodka. Remember though, Vodka is not native to Goa, and hence to the dish. Addition of this alcohol content is optional. Personally, I have had great results even without it. 
  • Most importantly, believe it or not, this dish is best made 5-7 days “before” you intend to serve it!! Why? Pork always improves in flavour with time. Make sure you store Vindaloo in a cool place, but once a day, gently re-heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes. Cool and refrigerate until the next day! The broth thickens and the heat in the spices will resolve beautifully, resulting in an intricately delicious dish! This is the real way to make it. If you chose to do so, then eliminate the flour in step#9. We only use it to ensure a thick sauce, which would otherwise not happen, if served on the same day it is cooked.

Wine recommendations with Pork Vindaloo:
  •  Douro – CARM Grande Escolha 2001
    Deep plum-like colour and flavours. Mature, ripe, meaty and spicy on the palate with hints of sandalwood on the nose. This wine is a blend of Touriga Naçional along with other native grapes of Portugal, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz. It is available at the BC Liqour Store for about $40...worth every cent!
  • Quinta Do Crasto 2003
    Intense and fruit forward with red berries and plum. Crushed Pepper on the palate is amazingly tamed with a creamy vanilla finish that lingers...and balances the spice in the Pork Vindaloo!
    This wine is stellar! Available at most liquor stores for around $70 or so. A touch pricey...but then again, you don’t have Pork Vindaloo everyday!
    For those who prefer white wine, may I suggest the following with Pork Vindaloo...
  • Pfaffenheim – Pinot Gris 2007
    This bright golden wine is round with tropical fruit and delightful acidity to tame the spices, yet complement the flavours of Pork Vindaloo. Available for around $20 at the BC Liqour Store.
    This is a great wine just to keep at hand. It makes for a delightful aperitif as well.
  • Cedar Creek – Gerwürztraminer 2007
    Ah! Come home to BC! This wine is rich with lychee and stone fruit, and spicy with a round acidity and creamy mouth-feel. Great on its own, this wine will help balance the spicy top notes of Pork Vindaloo. Available at most liquour stores in BC for around $20.
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