Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pork Vindaloo

"Vindaloo is notorious for being hot and spicy," according to my Indian cookbook The Food of India: A Journey for Food Lovers.  Trust me, the book doesn't lie.  When I first made this dish I didn't have any dried chilies on hand, so decided 2 teaspoons chili powder equaled 4 dried chilies, ground.  Note: it does not.  Yet despite the sweat pouring from my eyelids and the fire-breathing skills we all gained during dinner, it was fantastically flavorful and delicious.  The roommate, though, had to throw in the towel and eat something else.  The carrot pachadi (yogurt-based salad similar to raiti) wasn't able to provide the relief I had hoped for.  Oddly enough, the heat died down overnight in the fridge, so leftovers were much more palatable. 

This time around I was smart enough to remember to reduce the chili powder to 1/2 teaspoon (still have no dried chilies in the apartment), switched to cane vinegar (because I had it), and left out the brown sugar (because I had used up my last bit making this cake.)  Of course, the fresh chilies I had were much hotter than before so the dish maintained its reputation, but this time we were all able to finish our plates.

The recipe calls for freshly ground spices, though if you don't have a spice grinder or don't want to take the time pounding away at a mortar and pestle, I have included the ground equivalents in parentheses.  Fenugreek adds a "curry" flavor, but I don't know a reasonable substitution and neither does Gourmet Sleuth; if you can't find it or don't have a good reason to add it to your spice collection, just leave it out or add a dash of curry powder.  Also, though the teaspoon brown sugar/ jaggery seems insignificant don't leave it out: I noticed this last attempt was missing a certain "umph" and I am sure it is the brown sugar that was missing.

 Pork Vindaloo

1kg leg of pork on the bone (I used two hamhocks because, hey, this is Kuwait and I take what I can get.  No tenderloin, please!  It will dry out.)
6 cardamom pods (1/4tsp ground)
1tsp black peppercorns (1/2tsp)
4 dried chilies (1/4-1/2tsp, depending on taste)
1tsp cloves (scant 1/2tsp)
4inch cinnamon stick (1/2tsp)
1tsp cumin seeds (scant 1tsp)
1/2tsp coriander seeds (scant 1/2tsp)
1/4tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2tsp ground turmeric
4tbsp clear vinegar  (I've used both white and cane; prefer white)
1tbsp dark vinegar (I use balsamic, but molasses vinegar is more authentic)
4tbsp vegetable oil
2 onions, finely slices
10 garlic cloves, minced
2inch piece of ginger, cut into matchsticks
3 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped 
4 green chilies, chopped (de-seed if you are worried about the heat of your chilies)
1c water
1tsp jaggery or soft brown sugar

Trim excess fat from pork, remove bone and cut meat into 1inch pieces.  Reserve bone.

If grinding spices, remove seeds from cardamom pods and finely grind them along with all other spices.  In a large bowl, mix spices with vinegars.  Add pork and mix to coat.  Cover and marinate in fridge for three hours (though eight hours makes it divine!)

Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or casserole over low heat and fry onion until lightly browned.  Add the garlic, ginger, tomato and chilies; stir well.  Add the pork, increase heat to high and fry for 3-5minutes, or until browned. Add one cup water and any remaining marinade liquid, reduce heat and bring slowly back to a boil.  Add jaggery and pork bone.  Cover tightly and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally until meat is very tender.  Discard bone.  Season with salt, to taste.


  1. O.K. I found this post and this is my favorite dish when going to an Indian place.

  2. I hope you make it and it turns out just as good!