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Grub

Pork Vindaloo

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Pork Vindaloo

In this Murgh Vindaloo thread, I learned a lot (particularly from Waaza) about the vindaloo. One of the things I learned is that it makes a lot more sense to do it with pork (which is how the dish was originally made). So here goes...

The recipe:

1 lb pork cut into bite-sized pieces

1 tbsp ground coriander seeds

1 tsp fenugreek seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds

1 segment of star aniseed

5 garlic cloves

2" ginger

4 crushed/chopped dried red chilies

½ tsp ground turmeric

Garam masala

¼ cup vinegar

1 tbsp oil

1. Roast coriander- fenugreek- cumin- and star aniseed seeds.

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I didn't roast them a lot. Also, I kinda screwed up with the star aniseed -- I just cut a segment off and roasted it, rather than removing the seed. I removed the seed later.

2. Grind them along with garlic, ginger and chilies.

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3. Add turmeric, garam masala, vinegar and oil, grind some more.

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One thing I am worried about here, is that there are an awful lot of different spices mixed in here. I would prefer to be able to distinguish the different tastes, not so much because of the culinary experience, as much as I'd like to be able to tell if I've used too much or too little of a certain spice.

Was going to use a blender to mix it together, but I opted to just stick with the mortar and pestle, rather than dirtying up another item.

4. Marinade with pork overnight.

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I used a vacuum marinade container, and marinated it about three hours, rather than overnight. The marinade isn't very liquid (but it was starting to smell really good at this point).

After I removed the pork, you can see there is very little marinade left.

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5. Finely chop 2 med yellow onions.

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I only had one onion, but it was a big one so I figured it'd be okay. However, the cooking process renders it down so much, I think I'll definitely use two the next time around.

I'm pretty fond of chopping things with a normal chef's knife, but a proper mandolin makes short work of the "finely chopped" part of the recipe. I was originally planning on trying to dry the water from the onion, but part of the advice I got in the aforementioned thread said to just make sure to cook it as soon as I'd chopped it.

And I made sure to not cut off too much from the end of the onions, since those bits contain a lot of good stuff that makes the onions sweet.

6. Cook onions over medium heat until golden, 15-20 minutes.

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Not quite golden after 13 minutes or so -- but I think the photo shows the color a little too pale. I turned the heat up to med-high towards the end, in anticipation of adding the meat.

7. Remove meat from marinade and cook it until browned.

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With Chinese stir-fry recipes, I'd normally brown the meat first, remove it from the wok, and put it back in after the onions were done -- I'm thinking this might be a good idea with this dish too. Because I think the one thing that marred this dish, was that the onions were slightly burned while the meat was browned. This process took about 15 minutes.

8. Reduce heat to low, add remaining marinade, cook until dry.

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There was just a tablespoon of marinade left, but I added it, and cooked it until dry.

9. Add ¼ cup water, cook until dry again

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This method of drying the dish out is apparently know as the bhuna stage -- or a bhuna cooking method, like stir-frying.

10. Add ¾ cup tomato sauce, simmer 10-15 min.

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Mix the tomato sauce in properly...

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Looking good -- the color is starting to look about right.

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Okay, that looks just about done. Just the right color.

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Serve over rice, and sprinkle with some parsley (I dunno how authentic that is, but the color looks good, hehe).

Post-meal analysis: It was quite good, but there were two things I disliked. One, the meal left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth, which I believe is because I cooked the dish slightly too fast (a total of about 45 minutes), over slightly too high heat. Two, the meat wasn't very tender, which I think was caused by the shortened cooking time, or possibly because of a shortened marinade period (does vinegar tenderize meat the way citrus juices do?). I used a pork sirloin -- when braising cubed pork, I normally go for a cheaper cut.

The good thing was that the nice vinegar flavor wasn't overpowering, as with the Murgh Vindaloo. But then again, I used a mild rice vinegar this time, rather than the red wine vinegar, that I think I used last time.

Some conclusions

-- Next time, I'll cook it slower, at lower temperatures.

-- The Murgh Vindaloo dish (previously mentioned thread) tasted a bit more like the Vindaloos I tasted in Britain, but I think part of this may be that I overheated this pork dish.

-- Cooked at this pace, the chicken would have been more tender, yet the vinegar wouldn't have been as overpowering (as in the last dish).

-- When I first started eating curries in Rusholme, there were four "strengths": Mild, Medium, Madras and Vindaloo. I used to wish for a mild Vindaloo -- well, now I know there's such a thing. I'm not there just yet with the recipe, but I figure I can get there from here.

Finally, a couple of questions:

Ever heard about a dish called Phal? I came across it in Wokingham, and it was labeled as being stronger than a Vindaloo -- and it was. It was also very tasty, but so strong I could only eat about a third of it.

This "Betty Crocker Indian Home Cooking: Recipes by Raghavan Iyer" book I've got has some good information on Vindaloo (about the Portuguese in Goa and vinegar), and it also mentions a dish called Sorpotel -- Pork in Cashews. It is also a pork and vinegar dish. Anyone familiar with this dish?

Any comments, questions, and criticism welcome.

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A couple of points.

Yes, the dish should have been cooked for much longer. I usually cook it for at least half an hour in a pressure cooker.

I don't see how a shorter cooking time would make it taste bitter (though maybe someone will correct me here). It could be from burning the onions or the spices though. Perhaps you let it darken a little too much in the bhuna stage? (You should be sprinkling a little water into the pan every time it seems it is about to burn, were you doing that?).

Also, your spices might have been under-roasted.

Even though you say that your onions were darker than in the photo, I would still have cooked them for longer again. I have taught Indian cooking classes and getting people to fry stuff for long enough is always the hardest part! You are still perhaps being a little over-influenced by the briefness of stir-frying?

Sorpotel (also called sarapatel) does not contain cashews. Are you quite sure they said this in your book? It is occasionally - and not all that often - cooked with feni (cashew liqueur) in addition to vinegar. Do try sorpotel, particularly if you like liver.

There is a recipe here for sorpotel.

Obviously you do not have to use the amount of dried red chillis they are suggesting here! I have three Goan cookbooks in front of me right now, all written by people from Goa. One of them (and I think the linked recipe has been based on this) asks for 30 chillis, one asks for 15 chillis, or to taste, and the other asks for 2 teaspoons chilli powder, or to taste. All are recipes with the same quantity of meat. Two of them want only pork and liver, no heart.

In addition, the suggestion in this link that the sorpotel be boiled up again daily is a suggestion for people without refrigeration. It helps the flavors mellow as well, but if you keep it for four days before eating, for example, and don't boil it up again every single day, I wouldn't sweat the issue (presuming you're refrigerating it of course!)

A suggestion for getting used to which spices you personally like and dislike. Cook something with a more neutral flavour, such as potatoes. Fry onions and/or garlic and/or ginger, then add peeled cubed potatoes and only one or two of the spices you want to experiment with. Depending on the spice, you should probably be frying the spice briefly before adding the potatoes (refer to your cookbooks here as how long and at what time varies according to the spice). Stir the potatoes around a few times so that they are well mixed in with the spices, then add water, bring to a boil, and cook til the potatoes are soft.

Try, for example:

turmeric + coriander powder + cumin (or any combination of the three)

turmeric + tomatoes

curry leaves + mustard seeds

panch phoron (a Bengali spice mix)

aniseed (NOT star anise) + cumin + sesame seeds

These spice combinations are basically typical for home-cooked vegetable dishes BTW, I am not suggesting any radical combinations where the results will be inedible!

This way, you should start to get a feel of how the individual spices are working within the dish, and how you personally feel towards those spices.

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Anzu, thank you for your response.

I agree the dish should have been cooked longer -- the reason why I think the shorter cooking time may have made the dish taste somewhat bitter, is that I cooked it at a higher temperature than I normally would have, in order to compensate for the briefer cooking time.

The cooking book I cited may not be very authentic, but yes, it does recommend using cashews.

I've got a spice mixture named Panch Poran (from a local market), and I love it... I'm tempted to add the stuff to every Indian dish I make, hehehe.

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One thing I will say Grub, you are adventerous. what you need is a good Guru to kind of help you sort out all the info that is out there ( try persuading Waza to take you under his wings).

A few pointers on this pork Vindaloo

There are numerous recipes out there. See if you can get hold of a book ' Prasad, Cooking with Indian Masters' by Kalra and try the Vindaloo recipe from there. Follow it exactly, measurements, method etc ( adjust only the slit green chillies if you have to as thye heat varies depending on what you are using) and see what happens.

Also the meat in your pictures is too lean. Get some Pork Belly and shoulder it will work better.

They say a Vindaloo tastes better the next day and it really does!


Bombay Curry Company

3110 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria, VA 22305. 703. 836-6363

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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Had time to think of another reason why it could be bitter.

Fenugreek seeds are intriniscally bitter and are EXTREMELY bitter when over roasted. Try a couple raw, clear your palate (by eating some rice or bread, for example). Roast a few seeds by placing them in an unoiled skillet over medium heat, try the taste test again, and keep roasting a few until they are clearly overdone. Taste those as well.

Were any of those flavours reminscent of the bitterness you were experiencing?

I started wondering this after thinking about how you were showing your roasted spices in the photo (i.e. all in one dish). I wasn't sure if maybe you'd roasted them all at the same time, or had put them together to cool or ready for grinding. How are you roasting them?

I always use the aforementioned dry skillet, and roast each spice separately, as the times each require vary greatly. (And it's also a very rare Indian kitchen that has an oven).

Turmeric and chilli also taste bitter when over roasted.

Panch Poran is the same spice mixture, just different spelling.

BTW, BBhasin, the Prasad book seriously drives me crazy. No index at the back, the page numbering in the contents section of the book does not make it easy to find the dish within the body of the book, and a knowledge of Hindi and Persian are almost a prerequisite in the contents section to know what the dish actually is. Yes, having studied Persian, I will know more or less what the dish will be when I see a name like "Khuroos-e-Tursh", but would it have killed them to at least give a hint to others that the dish is referring to chicken?

On top of that, a lot of the recipes seem to me to be the type where five steps must be followed where anyone else would use two or three...

Yes, the book will give you good results with food, but no way is it user friendly.

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another possibility: undercooking onions results

in a harsh bitter taste. definitely take the time

to slowly bhuno the onions till almost caramelized.

makes a world of difference.

any desi dish calling for onion gravy needs this step.

next, you may have under-toasted some of the spices.

they should not burn but should be aromatic.

also, they need to be ground finer. maybe

you got bitter specks of fenugreek because of this.

did the dish taste better next day after having a chance to sit?

also, why parsley to garnish?

coriander (aka cilantro) is the way to go....

milagai

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Come again: "Panch Poran [sic] is the same spice mixture, different spelling" ?

What are you finding problematic about this statement? :angry:

panch phoron = panch poron = panch phoran, etc., as people's romanization of Hindi (or Bengali) is unfortunately most unsystematic, and you will find food labelling with all sorts of variations that are far from a systematic transliteration of the original script or from how it will be pronounced. This is particularly the case with aspirated vs. unaspirated sounds ((i.e. the h gets left out far more often than it should, but sometimes get put in there when there should be none). There is also, as everyone knows who has some awareness of Indian languages, a difference in the way Hindi and Bangla deal with 'a', hence the variation between 'a' and 'o' in various transliterations.

So, I am not trying to make a statement about how the spice mixture should be spelt correctly, nor how it should be pronounced, nor am I trying to change the structure of Hindi or Bangla. I am trying to point out that the same product will often be labelled somewhat differently, but will still be referring to the same thing.

And if you are asking why the statement is there at all, read upthread and you should get the answer. It is not being equated with turmeric, chilli, or vindaloo, it that is what you are implying.

And to Grub: what on earth are the other ingredients in this dish they are calling sorpotel, but mysteriously contains cashews where it should not? I'm curious now.

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"And if you are asking why the statement is there at all, read upthread and you should get the answer. It is not being equated with turmeric, chilli, or vindaloo, it that is what you are implying."

I have read upthread, and am puzzled as to what you believe the composition of Panch Phoron to be.

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Thanks again, Anzu.

What I did with the spices, is that I simply roasted them all in a toaster oven -- well, not all of them, just the coriander, fenugreek, cumin, and star aniseed seeds. I'm not entirely convinced that I NEED to roast them at all -- they do have a great taste just as they are, mind you.

However, I will experiment with roasting some fenugreek seeds, and see if that produces bitterness -- maybe that is a particular seed that I should avoid roasting.

Re. panch poran -- yes I realize it's the same thing, and yes I also realize there is no one correct way to spell these romanized words.

Re. sorpotel, it's from the Betty Crocker book I mentioned above -- it seems to have proved to be a less-than-authentic book, heheh. But it still produces some good food. The ingredient list for sorpotel is vinegar, raw cashews, garlic, serrano/cayenne peppers, red onion, cloves, cinnamon, pork, and roasted cumin.

Milagai, yes of course coriander leaves/cilantro leaves would be the way to go, you're quite right. I happened to have both, but spaced. An obvious mistake. I've got no idea how the dish tasted the next day -- I didn't make enough for leftover (a mistake I'll make sure to avoid the next time).

So I've got these changes lined up for next time:

1) Test roast some fenugreek seeds and see if they turn bitter. If so, don't roast them. Possibly, avoid roasting the other three seeds altogether.

2) Grind the seeds finely.

3) Use more onions.

4) Cook the dish slower, at lower temperatures.

5) Consider adding some panch poran.

6) Add cilantro, not parsley.

7) Make sure to cook enough for leftovers.

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Ah ha! Just as I have a pork vindaloo simmering on the stove, I find this thread! Pity I didn't find it a bit earlier, but I'll be making this again, considering the popularity of pork in Japan...

Thanks for all the detail!

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Grub,

don't add panch phoron to the vindaloo!

at least, not unless you are trying for new and unique taste mixtures... :biggrin:

Or were you actually joking?

Also, you should most definitely be roasting the whole spices for the vindaloo, this brings out their flavour and the dish will really suffer if you leave out that step entirely. It is only when you have over roasted them that they might be bitter.

Stand over the pan as you roast the cumin and coriander (separately!), and you will be convinced of how great the roasting makes them.

In addition, the spices can be ground far more easily once they have been toasted. This is particularly true for the whole coriander. Grinding is easiest and most effective if you have let them fully cool again before you grind.

Going from your photos, you were grinding the onions, etc. together with the whole roasted spices (?).

It is a lot easier to grind the spices to a powder, and to grind the onions and other wet ingredients to a paste as two separate processes.

The spices are most easily ground if you have a separate coffee grinder that you use only for grinding whole spices. Finally, after years of putting it off, I finally bought a separate one, (until now, it was a case of trying to get all the spice taste out of the grinder and still having coffee that had a lingering taste of spice. Not so bad, of course, if cardamom was the last spice that I ground!). Do consider it if you are cooking, or intend to cook, Indian food often.

I figured that if you are a panch phoron enthusiast, you would probably know that the same mixture gets spelt different ways. It was partly for the benefit of others who might read this thread, as I seem to constantly run across people in Indian grocery stores who are very hesitant about buying something which is labelled a little differently from the way it is spelt in their cookbooks, as they are not sure if it is the same thing. (Kasoori methi and Qasoori methi is another example).

Apologizing in advance for real nit-picking, but the dish with cashews that you mention will definitely not have raw cashews. Raw cashews are poisonous, and are always cooked before they are sold.

You know, you're really leading me astray here. I usually cook meat only about once every two weeks, but after all this discussion of vindaloo, I just had to go out and buy some meat and cook it! :biggrin:

Gautam, you are Bengali, I am not. You will therefore, I am sure, have a wider repertoire of uses of panch phoron than I.

Would it not perhaps be a good idea if you lead off a discussion of panch phoron, favourite recipes with it and so on (in another thread if need be). It is, after all, a popular spice mixture that many people enjoy. In addition, many who are relatively new to Indian cooking tend to enjoy both the taste as well as the fact that they can buy it already mixed together and that they therefore do not need to buy five separate batches of spices.

That way, I hope, all of the readers of this forum would benefit.

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Anzu, okay I'll hold off on the panch poran for the Vindaloo -- I didn't realize you were just talking generically, about trying spices, rather than specifically for the Vindaloo.

I use a Thai style mortar and pestle (same thing as Jamie Oliver) for grinding spices. I guess next time, I'll grind the star aniseed- cumin- coriander- and fenugreek seeds more fully before I add the ginger, garlic and chilies.

And yeah, I realize panch poran is spelled different ways -- and that just like garam masala, there are probably different ways to create the mixture.

Re. raw cashews -- the book really does call for raw cashews. The recipe has you cook the mixture afterwards of course, but it specifically says raw cashew pieces.

I wanna make more Vindaloo myself now, but I figure I may be close to causing an anti-Vindaloo riot if I keep at it :smile:

Helenjp, glad you liked it. If you want to share your Vindaloo experiences, that'd be awesome too.

Gauam, I've cooked a few Indian meals, but have very little experience with panch poran. I love the taste of though, so if you have any recipes to share, please do so!

Edit: I tried roasting some fenugreek seeds, and they definitely take on a bitter and unpleasant taste. However, unroasted, they have very little taste at all, so I think I'll leave them off completely, from my Vindaloo recipe from now on...


Edited by Grub (log)

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Re. raw cashews -- the book really does call for raw cashews. The recipe has you cook the mixture afterwards of course, but it specifically says raw cashew pieces.

They are called "raw" because they are untoasted, but cashews must go through a type of cooking process to remove some sort of irrititant before they are sold.


Edward Hamann

Cooking Teacher

Indian Cooking

edhamann@hotmail.com

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Edit: I tried roasting some fenugreek seeds, and they definitely take on a bitter and unpleasant taste. However, unroasted, they have very little taste at all, so I think I'll leave them off completely, from my Vindaloo recipe from now on...

i cook a lot of south indian dishes that call for fenugreek

seeds and would not be the same without them.

there is definitely a fine art to including them without the bitter taste.

roast them and grind finely (spice mill), so that the powder disperses.

that way you get a very pleasant and subtle aroma but no bitterness.

tarka with them, then after you add the tarka to the dish, simmer

for ~ 10 minutes. this somehow takes away the bitterness, but adds

the subtle aroma i mentioned (e.g. in mashiya, for e.g. which would

be nowhere without the fenugreek).

try one or other of these techniques next time you use fenugreek and see?

maybe the aroma will come through without the bitterness?

milagai

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Hi Grub,

just back from hols, hence late reply:

would agree with replies you have had so far, good advice there.

My comments as follows;

1) two smaller onions would be better, IMHO, in the UK the very large (Spanish) onion is too mild to contribute much pungency to the dish, I have always used the (less attractive) smaller onion. Press the tops to weed out the ones with premature rot (they will be much softer at the tips). The root end is where the sulphur flavours are concentrated, the whole onion stores the starches from where the sweetness eventually comes.

2) chopped onion seems to be good, but I would cook them for longer, they must be golden, 20 mins is not uncommon.

3) I use a (laboratory) grinder (Waring blender) for my spices, I have found most pestle and mortar jobbies to be rather cosmetic, though yours seems to be OK.

4) I suggest you 'roast' the seeds in a dry heavy pan. The word roasting is a bit misleading, as roasting usually occurs in an oven. What you need to do is heat the pan over highish heat (8/10) add the seeds and move them about whilst heating. This browns them all over, rather than burning som bits and not browning others. Heat until a little smoke appears above the pan (you may have to look carefully, at an angle to see it, but be aware that some seeds can jump out of the pan and cause painful blisters on the skin (experience talking here!!). Once you have spotted the smoke, leave it for another 10 seconds, then remove the pan from the ring to another cold one, to cool quicker.

5) IMHO, there is no need to roast the star anise, is does nothing but volatilize the aromatics, so lose you flavour, not enhance it. BTW, roasting the cumin, coriander and fenugreek is necessary for this dish. It produces chemicals called pyrazines, which produce the sensation of 'roasting smells', which is necessary because the meat (pork) will not have as much flavour (using the cooking methods used to produce this dish) as if it were roasted or fried. Essentially, a vindaloo is a 'stew', that is, cooked with excess water-based liquids, so deep roasted flavours will not develop. Which leads me to:

6) As you have noted, the temperatures (and timing) are off optimum. The pork was tough for two reasons (other than it was tough to start with :raz:)

Tough meat needs treating with care, and less heat. Never fry/grill the meat, it needs as low a temperature as can be used (and still be cooked). So, gently fry your onions until golden (about 20 mins or so), then, while maintaing the same heat, add your meat. Gently cook until all the water/vinegar has boiled/evap'ed off, then add rest of marinade (I would have expected much more liquid, I would suggest you add enough liquid so that the marinade totally covers your meat, (from your excellent photos not all the chunks were totally coated).

Once you have bhuna'd a few times (adding water when dry) cover with water/stock or tomatoes if you want to (though not authentic, probably). It is important to cover the meat with liquid, to get even cooking. Simmer so that occasional bubbles break the surface only. Do not boil. Simmer for at least 45 mins, though you will have to make the final choice. As has been mentioned, this is not a stir fry dish, so treat it as a stew, and get on with preping something else while it is cooking.

I would not add (or subtract) from this recipe (though I question the tomatoes), and would not add the panch poran. You already have the cumin and fenugreek, and the anise will cover for the fennel, the kalonji is tasteless (to my taste buds) which leaves the mustard seeds (or randhuni if we are to be totally authentic!). The other spices and flavours in the vindaloo will overpower any in the panch poran.

I use split fenugreek, as used in making pickles, if you can get hold of these, I would recommend them.

It has been mentioned that vindaloo (and othe dishes) can taste better a day or more after cooking. Two reasons for this, I suggest, is that the oil has time to extract more flavour from the spices (and chillies/ginger etc) and your nose is not full of the smells of the cooking process, you attack the vindaloo with a fresh nose!

Hope this helps, please keep trying, you will be rewarded soon, I am sure, and once you have reached vindaloo nirvana, and understood the processes which make good flavours, it will give you the confidence to try other dishes, hopefully with equal success.

good luck

cheers :wink:

Waaza

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I'm not suggesting the use of panch phoran in this dish, but I would have to strongly disagree with the idea that kalonji (nigella) is tasteless. Then again, that's my tastebuds vs. yours. :biggrin:


Michael aka "Pan

 

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I'm not suggesting the use of panch phoran in this dish, but I would have to strongly disagree with the idea that kalonji (nigella) is tasteless. Then again, that's my tastebuds vs. yours. :biggrin:

no problems, Pan, I'm quite willing to accept that my taste buds don't detect anything much from kalonji, although the age of the spice is always a variable, not to mention the age of my taste buds :unsure:

I use black sesame seeds instead.

cheers

Waaza

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Whaaaaa...? Now I'm seriously getting a little confused -- tomatoes aren't authentic for a vindaloo?!

I mean, tomatoes contribute a LOT to the flavor (let alone the color) of this dish -- whether vindaloo should be cooked with fenugreek seeds or not, pork, chicken, shrimp, or potatoes seems nearly irrelevant, if tomatoes are optional, and unauthentic...? Obviously, not all Indian dishes use tomato for their sause, but I always figured that vindaloo did?

It seems like such a significant item in the recipe -- how come you didn't mention this earlier, in the first thread, Waaza?

I'm kinda bewildered now; it feels like I'm trying to understand the finer points of Hollandaise, only to be told to leave out the egg yolks, or something...

Oh well...

I'll try another vindaloo this weekend if everything works out. I'll keep the fenugreek seeds (roasted) -- as well as the tomato sauce. And will make sure to cook it nice and slow. And yeah, no panch poran.

I'll let ya know how it works out.

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My understanding is that the tomatoes are functioning as an additional souring agent (additional, in this case, to the vinegar).

There are versions with and without tomatoes (just as their versions with and without potatoes for that matter). All those without tomatoes, that I know of at least, have something else again to make the dish sourer. This may be tamarind in a lot of cases, at least one recipe calls for pickled onions, and there are also versions with a larger quantity of vinegar.

One of the reasons for sourness (apart from taste, of course) is that dishes such as these (the sorpotel mentioned upthread falls into this category as well) are traditionally cooked for festive occasions, might be cooked in advance and then re-heated once each day to prevent spoilage as there is/was no refrigeration. You therefore need a high proportion of ingredients which will retard spoilage and bacterial growth.

Here also a few facts about which souring agents are most popular and why:

The very name of tamarind (the name comes from tamr hindi, is Arabic in origin and means Indian date) already points to the fact that tamarind, while arguably not actually Indian in origin, has nevertheless been associated with Indian cuisine for a very long time.

Tomatoes are, obviously, a New World import which have been adopted with great rapidity across India, along with chillis, potatoes, and so forth. They do, however, have a far shorter history of use in Indian food, and there are still communities particularly in southern India who will avoid these 'foreign' foods on particular occasions (i.e. in the preparation of foods for certain Hindu festivals).

Vinegar is the souring agent, of these three, that has least penetrated Indian cuisine. Speaking very broadly here, it is most closely associated with Portuguese influence (although there ARE exceptions here, and historically vinegar has also been present elsewhere in India, and has been used by both Hindus and Muslims).

There is yet another alternative souring agent that can be used in vindaloo, and that is dried kokum (Garcinia indica). This is usually available in Indian grocery stores if you feel like hunting it down and experimenting.

Now, I'm getting a bit vague here, because I can't truly remember the details about which community prefers what, but: preferences for souring agents vary in Goa (and nearby regions) according to the religious background of the person cooking the dish. If I remember correctly, Christians tend to use a lot more vinegar in their dishes, Hindus will tend to use more kokum and tamarind.

In addition, vindaloo is made not only in Goa, but also, for example, in Kerala. This means that regional variations as well as religious variations start playing a role in what goes into a dish. Most dishes in India have not been standardized in the way that, for example, hollandaise has been. Most people still do not cook from cookbooks, and it is really only in the last few years that cookbooks documenting local and regional cuisines have begun to appear.

What this means is that there tends to be a lot more variation in a dish than you might expect if comparing to Western cuisine. If you want to use tomatoes, use them. :smile:

I'm sure others can talk about this also, and probably bring more knowledge to the subject than I.

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My understanding is that the tomatoes are functioning as an additional souring agent (additional, in this case, to the vinegar).

There are versions with and without tomatoes (just as their versions with and without potatoes for that matter). All those without tomatoes, that I know of at least, have something else again to make the dish sourer. This may be tamarind in a lot of cases, at least one recipe calls for pickled onions, and there are also versions with a larger quantity of vinegar.

One of the reasons for sourness (apart from taste, of course) is that dishes such as these (the sorpotel mentioned upthread falls into this category as well) are traditionally cooked for festive occasions, might be cooked in advance and then re-heated once each day to prevent spoilage as there is/was no refrigeration. You therefore need a high proportion of ingredients which will retard spoilage and bacterial growth.

Here also a few facts about which souring agents are most popular and why:

The very name of tamarind (the name comes from tamr hindi, is Arabic in origin and means Indian date) already points  to the fact that tamarind, while arguably not actually Indian in origin, has nevertheless been associated with Indian cuisine for a very long time.

Tomatoes are, obviously, a New World import which have been adopted with great rapidity across India, along with chillis, potatoes, and so forth. They do, however, have a far shorter history of use in Indian food, and there are still communities particularly in southern India who will avoid these 'foreign' foods on particular occasions (i.e. in the preparation of foods for certain Hindu festivals).

Vinegar is the souring agent, of these three, that has least penetrated Indian cuisine. Speaking very broadly here, it is most closely associated with Portuguese influence (although there ARE exceptions here, and historically vinegar has also been present elsewhere in India, and has been used by both Hindus and Muslims).

There is yet another alternative souring agent that can be used in vindaloo, and that is dried kokum (Garcinia indica). This is usually available in Indian grocery stores if you feel like hunting it down and experimenting.

Now, I'm getting a bit vague here, because I can't truly remember the details about which community prefers what, but: preferences for souring agents vary in Goa (and nearby regions) according to the religious background of the person cooking the dish. If I remember correctly, Christians tend to use a lot more vinegar in their dishes, Hindus will tend to use more kokum and tamarind.

In addition, vindaloo is made not only in Goa, but also, for example, in Kerala. This means that regional variations as well as religious variations start playing a role in what goes into a dish. Most  dishes in India have not been standardized in the way that, for example, hollandaise has been. Most people still do not cook from cookbooks, and it is really only in the last few years that cookbooks documenting local and regional cuisines have begun to appear.

What this means is that there tends to be a lot more variation in a dish than you might expect if comparing to Western cuisine. If you want to use tomatoes, use them.  :smile:

I'm sure others can talk about this also, and probably bring more knowledge to the subject than I.

Could'nt have summed it up better. :smile:

Many Parts of Goa have their own variation of Vindaloo. Most rural versions call for cubed potatoes that are parboiled, fried till slightly browned and then stirred in just before serving.

Another little known souring agent is Bimbli, a sort of a miniature gherkin, but that's used in Fish Curries.


I fry by the heat of my pans. ~ Suresh Hinduja

http://www.gourmetindia.com

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I ran out of time while posting earlier.

Just want to clarify that the above was a discussion about souring agents in general in Goa and nearby regions.

For this reason, Muslim cooking styles are also referred to in a thread that is discussing the cooking of a pork dish. At no point am I saying here that Muslims are going to be cooking a pork based dish (with no matter what souring agent).

And besides, if they did, that would be their own business. :rolleyes:

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I think the addition of tomatoes is a recent thing. In Indian cooking, they are used as souring agents, but using passata (or even tinned tomatoes) is going to add sweetness, not the sour tang intended. And believe it or not, tomatoes are not as common an ingredient as you might think. :huh:

I agree with all that anzu and episure have said. :cool:

Your original recipe called for yoghurt and coconut milk as well. You may well appreciate that that recipe was adjusted for personal preference. I did not mention it at the time as it would seem as though I was saying the recipe is totally inappropriate, I wanted you to carry on your quest. There is no problem with adding tomatoes, of course, its up to you, but Western toms will change the whole emphasis of this dish, which is decidely sour. I have tried it with tamarind and find it not to my liking in this dish. A vindaloo should be hot and sour with quite a light gravy. The chillies should blend in with the spices, and mellow a little.

You have high-lighted something which happens all too often in published recipes. The author tends to offer their version of a dish, and adapt it at will. No problem with that except that most lose sight of the original intentions. Many writers are authors primarily, and not cooks, so they have more of a bias towards what will sell rather than the preservation of the authenticity of a dish. Who wants books full of the same recipes, anyway?

Unfortunately, there is much plagerism in cook book land, so the inclusion of tomatoes (or potatoes) in a vindaloo recipe because the author prefers it that way quickly turns a preference into a norm. :shock:

What I would say is that the vinegar is there to preserve the meat and to 'cut through' the fatty pork (much like duck and orange).

By all means add tomatoes, but you stand a chance of changing the qualities of the dish, and run the risk of turning it into something else, which you might prefer, but others may not.

Why not try it without tomatoes, if you do not like it, then add some, a little at a time; and tell us how you got on.

best of luck

cheers

Waaza :biggrin:

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Man, oh man, I'm just feeling confused here... I'm really grateful for the comments and advice -- I'm sure I'll learn from it all, once I've figured out how to absorb it all. But right now, I'm kinda perplexed about vinegar, sour stuff, tomatoes and things. I mean, I don't know enough about this to really stand up for a specific way to cook this -- everyone who has commented on this thread seems to be more knowledgeable than myself.

I'm going to go along with Episure's comments about parboiled and browned potatoes -- I don't know if that's authentic or not, but I love potatoes.

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Man, oh man, I'm just feeling confused here... I'm really grateful for the comments and advice -- I'm sure I'll learn from it all, once I've figured out how to absorb it all. But right now, I'm kinda perplexed about vinegar, sour stuff, tomatoes and things. I mean, I don't know enough about this to really stand up for a specific way to cook this -- everyone who has commented on this thread seems to be more knowledgeable than myself.

We've probably been at it a lot longer than you, but it seems everyone is very willing to help you, I hope because they know that dong it properly gives the best results. All I can suggest is don't try to absorb it all at once, try a dish, and try to perfect it. That way, hopefully you will learn something about the Indian way of cooking. As in the learning of most techniques, the beginning is always going to be the hardest, but keep trying, and keep learning.

As an aside, there is a saying about giving a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him to fish, and you fed him for a life-time. I would add, teach him all you know about fish, and he will be able to teach his children, etc. If he understands fish, he will understand fishing, and cooking, and the pleasures of life :smile:

I'm going to go along with Episure's comments about parboiled and browned potatoes -- I don't know if that's authentic or not, but I love potatoes.

Potatoes do go well with strong flavoured gravies, but would not be thought of as authentic. It has been suggested that they are in UK vindaloo's because of the confusion over the word aloo, meaning potato. Of course, in this case it means garlic.

So I suggest, if you want it authentic, cook the spuds separately.

You might like to get hold of a copy of Camelia Panjabi's cook book, "50 great curries of India" ISBN 1 85626 128 X (hard back, although available in softback). She explains souring agents (and colouring agents and many other things) very well, IMHO.

Cooking Indian food is not difficult, it just seems that way to start with. Please try to understand why things are done the way they are, and you will get an insight into most cuisines of the world, for most techniques are covered.

Lastly, I'll post a recipe (with notes) here, that I think you will find gives good results. I sometimes make two versions of the same dish, using slightly different methods to compare the two, side by side on the plate, it can be very revealing. Give me a little while to write it out for you.

keep on trying :raz:

cheers

Waaza :biggrin:

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