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Authentic vindaloo


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I was told by a Goanese lady of Portugese decent ,that in her grandparents time the pig would be killed in the backyard and the blood saved to be used in the vindaloo like a laison.

I am very curious if someone can authenticate this

GOAN's who I know have also told me of butchering meats in their yards or even rooms in the homes.

In fact even in Nagpur, a city not far from Goa, in the state of Maharasthra, neighbors of our who were Christian would butcher the animals they cooked in their apartment.

I shall email some friends and see what I can find out about the blood business you mention. :unsure:

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It is my understanding that an authentic vindaloo uses pork  in small cubes with the fat and rind.

Now the following is something that I am not sure of, so can someone in the know please give their thoughts on this one.

I was told by a Goanese lady of Portugese decent ,that in her grandparents time the pig would be killed in the backyard and the blood saved to be used in the vindaloo like a laison.

I am very curious if someone can authenticate this


What you've mentioned holds true for "Sorpotel" and not Vindaloo.

Sorpotel uses pork meat, rind and the fat diced and then deep fried.

The basic spice paste is almost the same as in Vindaloo.

And yes blood is used too for thickening the sauce.

Not many places follow this practice though

Sorpotel is traditionally served with "Sanaas" - a steamed rice cake fermented with toddy


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Regarding the etymology - I am almost certain that it is from:

P -> E

Vinho -> Wine

Alho -> Garlic

Vinegar in Portuguese is I believe vinagre - so it's unlikely that it's the basis for the word vindaloo.

Also, there is a popular dish in Portuguese cookery called 'Carne de Vinho e Alhos", for which pork is cooked in white wine and white wine vinegar. Lacking a steady supply of wine, it seems quite plausible that the Goans eliminated and replaced white wine vinegar with palm vinegar.

What you've mentioned holds true for "Sorpotel" and not Vindaloo.
Doesn't Sorpotel also contain innards (liver, kidney, etc.), while Vindaloo usually does not? Or can Vindaloo contain innards?

Is Vindaloo usually eaten with sannas as well? Or it more commonly served with rice?

Sun-Ki Chai

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Doesn't Sorpotel also contain innards (liver, kidney, etc.), while Vindaloo usually does not?  Or can Vindaloo contain innards? 

Is Vindaloo usually eaten with sannas as well?  Or it more commonly served with rice?


Sorpotel would certainly contain offals as you've mentioned.

Some recipes also call for tongue, though I have rarely seen this used.

No Vindaloo does not contain offal meats and is normally served with rice and or the local baked bread.


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Sorpotel would certainly contain offals as you've mentioned.

Some recipes also call for tongue, though I have rarely seen this used.

No Vindaloo does not contain offal meats and is normally served with rice and or the local baked bread.



KNorthrup, what lager do you like with Vindaloo?

Which makes we wonder, what, traditionally, is the beverage that is drunk with vindaloo? Is it feni (distilled palm liquor)? Toddy?

Sun-Ki Chai

Former Hawaii Forum Host

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But there is a more important reason in my book; potatoes are often added to many meat and chicken curries to simply add to the quantity of the dish. So that it stretches.  Nothing more and nothing less.

Potatoes added to curries such as these made it possible for those in a home that did not like meat too much, but had no restriction to it, to find an alternative without the chef having to prepare another dish. 

I am sure other members would have their own feedback about this; it would make for a great discussion.

I think you are right Suvir, I come from a family of five, only my father worked, mutton was expensive. Growing up I always remember potatoes in the mutton curry. My mother would deep fry them quatered until they were half done and a little browned she would then simmer them in the curry ( gravey ). Sometimes turnips were also used but I hated that ( turnips were not fried though)

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  • 3 months later...

I can't imagine how I'd make a vindaloo with potatoes in it - cooking the pork is usually an hours long process, and that would kill the potatoes. Now a quicker dish, like goan sausage, I love with potatoes. If only I could find a place that sold goan sausage in the bay area.

Now if only I could figure out how to make Pau to go with it... Please post a recipe or PM me if you have *anything* close to a Pau recipe.

Dinner Diaries - It's what's for dinner!

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Interesting thread. Particularly because of how it highlights the way vindaloo has become associated with extreme spiciness outside India, when that's not quite how I think of vindaloo over here.

For me, a vindaloo is spicy certainly, but not extraordinarily so - and I don't have a cast iron palate. I'd count some South Indian, particularly Andhra, dishes as dynamite and probably some dishes from the Northeastern states or Bhutan, like the one that's basically stewed chillies. But vindaloo, I'd say, is more tangy, from the vinegar of course, than spicy.

I checked with my source of all information on Goan food, and she confirmed that traditional vindaloo is more sourish than spicey and according to her, has been moving even further towards sour and away from spicy, while abroad the movement has been in exactly the opposite direction!

Her explanation is based on chillies and on who was cooking the dish that's become known as vindaloo abroad. In India what's been happening is that more and more people have been using those big wrinkled Kashmiri chillies that give a great red colour, but little heat - its more like paprika. (I have fulminated on this list in the past on how this standardisation of ingredients, lead by large spice companies and supermarkets, making us lose our traditional chillies).

So where in the past people in Goa might have used 8-10 reasonably hot local chillies of the kind called Mapsa (presumably after the town of Mapusa?) for a kilo of meat, today they'd use 6-7 Kashmiri chillies and 2-3 Begde (the more spicier type that's commonly found in shops), so the overall tendency has been to tone down the spiciness. But the vinegary sourness remains the same, since that is the essence of a vindaloo.

As she pointed out, that's why its cooked - because the sourness helps it stay good, especially when refrigeration is uncertain or when a large number of people must be fed, but there's not that much time for cooking - for example, when everyone comes down in the 2-3 days before a wedding (sorpotel and balchao are the other vinegar heavy dishes cooked for the same reason). So you can play around with the quantity of chillies, but not the vinegar.

Her theory on why its become an extreme spicy dish abroad is also interesting. She suggests its because its the only one of the well known curry dishes abroad that doesn't come from the North Indian range that the British became familiar with, which was what was later reproduced in Indian restaurants abroad - dishes like rogan josh or dopiazah (even 'Madras' curry is more North Indian than really South Indian). These dishes all use garam masala and many other spices for a complex flavour.

Vindaloo, on the other hand, is much simpler - chillies are really the only spice that matters in it. So compared with the other dishes it got identified as the 'spicy' one. (Many cooks were Goan so its plausible that they would have been allowed to introduce their Brit masters to a few token Goan dishes, while otherwise mostly cooking from the familiar Anglo-Indian repertoire. The Goans wouldn't have known the dynamite Andhra dishes - and I doubt their masters could have taken them either!)

And once it got identified as the spicy dish, it just kept getting more and more so. Part of the whole 'lager and curry' Brit eating culture is clearly the thrill of seeing how much spice you can take - remember that Goodness Gracious Me spoof where a bunch of Indians go out for an "English" and compete to see who can eat the blandest food! - so restaurants would keep adding on the chilly powder in the vindaloo to make it even more of a dare, until it ended up in the explosive monster it seems to be today.

Anyway, that's my friend's largely speculative contribution to vindaloo cultural studies! It does sound plausible though; what do others on this list think? The only thing I'll add is that I've seen the name explained as a Portuguese term for 'spirits of wine' meaning vinegar, but 'vin d'ahlua' derived from vinegar and garlic does sound more plausible.


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Vindaloo is usually made with Pork.

In restaurants here in the US, I find all kinds of meat and poultry used.

Duck vindaloo is a traditional East Indian Christmas dish (I've already gone on about East Indians on one of the threads on this list, so lets not do it again, just lets say I'm referring to highly specific East Indian community in Bombay). They used to get the ducks some weeks before Christmas to fatten before cooking them up.

I tried doing this last year. No, not fattening them up, I think my flatmate at that time would have had distinct objections to a couple of ducks wandering through the flat. But I managed to get a couple of ducks after a considerably complex process involving the mother of an East Indian friend of mine, a very specific poultry butcher in Bandra who got them on order and a very bewildered cousin of my friend who had to pick up two big dead ducks and store them in her freezer till I could come and collect them. Ducks, it seems, are not longer much in demand these days.

And then I cooked them I sort of gathered why. It was the first time I was cooking ducks, and I hadn't realised they'd be so different from chicken. So I made the vindaloo masala (using a recipe from Patricia Brown's excellent book on Anglo Indian food) and left them simmering for quite a while, thinking they'd become nice and tender. In fact, the exact opposite happened: their fat melted off and floated in a orange tinted sea on top of the dish, while the flesh below took on the texture of old rope.

A few of my friends, entirely out of loyalty to me, did try chewing their way through the carcasses, but they soon gave up. (Luckily my kitchen is never short of a couple of packets of Goa sausage, so they were quickly pressure cooked as a very acceptable substitute). So much for ducks then, but I should give the recipe a shot again, since the gravy was really delicious. It had a slightly pickled flavour from all the vinegar, but without the overpowering acidity of most pickles - my friends may have abandoned the carcasses, but they gobbled up the gravy and I don't think it was only extreme hunger that made them do it.

Does anyone have tips for cooking ducks with Indian food? I think I remember that Chitrita Banerjee has a very delicious sounding Bangla recipe for duck cooked with oranges - an interesting take the old Western pairing, in a very different context. Some awful person has taken my copy of Life & Food In Bengal though, so even if I dared to try ducks again, I wouldn't know where to start,


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Does anyone have tips for cooking ducks with Indian food?


Try making Duck Pickle using the reciepe for chicken pickle from Prashad. I tried the chicken pickle and it was was exactly like you get at Dhali on the way to Simla. In case of duck I would probably let it marinate longer, prior to frying, longer than chicken in the hope that it will tenderise it. The pickle reminded me a little bit of vindaloo because of the spiciness and the vinegar. It stays good for months at room temrature and is great with a good rustic bread.

So the next time your culinary efforts do not turn out as anticipated, reach for that jar of Duck Pickle.

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i'm in the camp of those who consider vindaloos to be a pork specific dish. sure there's no reason why you can't make it with another meat but the sweetness of pork fat is what perfectly complements the tanginess of a good vindaloo. and my favorite vindaloos are always the dryer tangy ones with a nice after-burn not the ones designed to demonstrate the chef's or the (usually anglo) customer's machismo.

in general i don't like the total substitutability principle that operates in many indian restaurants in the u.s where any kind of curry can be gotten with any kind of meat and sometimes even fish or shrimp. certain dishes go better with particular meats. what drives me up the wall even more is when waiters ask the mild, medium, spicy question for every damned dish. no, i wouldn't like my alu-palak spicy, thank you very much!

Edited by mongo_jones (log)
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  • 1 year later...


(FYI, this is a continuation of this thread and also this one.)

Man, this is gonna be a lot of work... I apologize for the length of this post, but to do this recipe full justice, I see no other way to handle this, except trying to pass on all the details... If it is a long read, have sympathy with me -- cause it surely will take me more time to type this up, than for you to read it. :smile:

Well, if you haven't read the two preceding threads, I've been trying to figure out how cook a popular Indian dish named Vindaloo. In Britain, this is an insanely spicy curry devoured partially due to a drunken machismo after a night in the pub ("Ach bugger all this -- Oi! Ye wankers up fer a Vindy?! Enkerlan, Enkerlan, Enkerlaaaaan!!" Sorry, I digress) but also because it is a really tasty meal. Needless to say, there are differences in authenticity and regions etc., but I won't get into that here.

I never ever thought I'd be able to say this, but I liked the Vindaloo I cooked last night even better than what I ate in my college years in England. And obviously, I've gotta give credit to Waaza for the recipe, as well as all the rest of the information he's offered up in the previous threads. Thanks dude, thanks a bunch!

For reference, you'll find Waaza's recipe in this link. I've typed up my own recipe, formatted according to my own preferences (which I do for most things I cook), but since he asks that we only copy the recipe in its entirety, I won't share mine. Besides, I still wouldn't cook this dish without all the footnotes of Waaza's original recipe, so I strongly suggest you stick to that, if you want to cook this amazing dish.


Now then, lets' get on with it...

First off, the spices: whole peppercorns, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, crushed red chili peppers and mustard seeds (clockwise).


The recipe called for 6-10 chilis, and I know what kind of a crowd I cook for, so I went with 10. Normally, I'd be prone to use considerably more, but I have far too much respect for the recipe, and was very determined to follow it as close as I could.

(And by respect, I mean that I had all faith that this recipe would produce a great meal as it was -- but if I had found that I wanted it to be even stronger, I would certainly add more, the next time I cooked it. In this case however, 10 chilis happened to be just perfect for my taste. I've eaten far spicier food than this, but I think it would be a detriment to the taste of this dish, if it was any hotter).

For some reason, I added the star aniseed segment at this point, rather than after the roasting process (along with the garam masala), as the recipe called for. I don't know why I did this -- maybe it was a brainfart, or for some reason, I just made a spur-of-the-moment decision that the aniseed should be roasted too. I don't know if this is a good or a bad idea. Also, I diced the star aniseed up before adding it, which the recipe doesn't mention.

(Waaza, what do you think, should I have roasted the aniseed or not? I did roast it in the previous recipe I used, but I have no idea how aniseed really reacts to roasting, to be honest.)

Star aniseed is extremely potent, and it completely ruined a dish I once made that called for a whole star aniseed, so only using a single segment is the right thing -- it might be possible to use two or three even, because there was no taste of aniseed in the final dish. Of course, Indian food tends to blend all the spices together, as opposed to Thai food.

Okay, I chucked these bad boys in a dry wok (no oil) over medium heat:


This mixture was supposed to be roasted until it started smoking, but after nearly ten minutes and no smoke, I increased the heat to "high." (I use an electric stove, so I think the heat doesn't conduct as well as a gas stove.) I added the cracked fenugreek seeds just as the smoke started, and immediately took the wok off the heat.


This seems to have done the trick. The colors seem to be just about right, although the mustard seeds (I think) are fairly dark, so maybe I made a mistake in increasing the heat after all. It was hard to tell from the aroma, since I used a lot of chilis (in fact, once it started smoking, I put my head directly over the wok and took a deep sniff -- BAD mistake! Whoa, what a rush -- my nostrils felt like the smoke stacks at Chernobyl.)

These spices won't all roast up at the same time, so I don't think there's any other way to do this, other than roasting them individually, which would be pretty damn tedious.

Okay, so I dumped it into the mortar. I'm giving you a wide shot of it here, so you can see what type it is (I think Waaza asked about it in an earlier thread?) -- it's a Thai wok, of the type that Jamie Oliver uses. It's a big one, about 45 lb. but I love it. People tend to shy away from using something this big and heavy but in my opinion, unless you're a gym rat, a tiny bit of manual labor is good for ya.


Besides, this is Kalifoornya, and I don't want the Gubernator to be calling a girlie-man or nuthen. Sorry, I'm delirious. This is hard work.

Here's good stuff all ground up. The plutonium aroma I experienced earlier was gone at this point, and there was just a dark, roasted type of smell to it. I'm not entirely confident if I roasted it too hard or not. But I think I'll try to be more patient the next time.


Next, I added the garlic and ginger. The ginger (right) was frozen (I find it keeps much longer this way) and grated with a micro-plane, which makes it extremely "frizzy" and voluminous, so it looks like there's a LOT more of it, than there really is. The garlic was run through a press (I always prefer to do this, than chopping it, since I figure that chopping it leaves a lot of yummy garlic juice on the cutting board).


The final two ingredients in the marinade were the oil and vinegar. I used a simple rice vinegar.


Here's the pork. The color looks a little weird in this picture -- I tried fiddling with it in Photoshop, but couldn't seem to get it to look right. But I'm sure it didn't look quite like that. By the way, instead of leaving it in the fridge overnight, I used this vacuum box, and marinated it for about three hours (in the fridge). I figure this is every bit as good as a 24-hour soak, because the meat really soaks up the liquid.


Added the marinade. It doesn't completely cover the meat like the recipe calls for, but I think it's okay, since I normally give the box a good shake every hour or so. If it truly is imperative that the marinade should cover the meat, I think more liquid needs to be added -- I don't know if more vinegar should be used, or something else. (Part of the reason why the marinade doesn't completely cover it, is that I used slightly more meat than the recipe called for, but I'm fairly certain that even if I had used the proportions described, it would still not have covered it.)



Okay, that's the marinade portion taken care of. Onwards onto the cooking process...

Since I'm scaling the recipe up a little bit, I'm using three onions rather than the two it calls for. Besides, one of them is really small. I'm using a mandolin with a really narrow "teeth" setting -- pretty darn close to 3mm.


Of course, this only cuts it into 3mm slices, so I'll have to dice it with a knife -- but I've gotta do that with the bits that the mandolin can't get to anyhow.


Okay, all done. Not perfect 3mm dice, but this should be more than good enough. It renders down a LOT in the cooking process.


And into the wok. I never measure the amount of oil I use -- I'm not sure if that's terribly important -- maybe I should? I was pretty generous, though. I like to use peanut oil, since it has a high smoke point -- even if this isn't cooked at a high temperature. I don't know if some other oil would be better?


I really took my time, and probably spent closer to 30 than 20 minutes. The color looked good to me, but I was a little shocked to see how oily it ended up after it rendered down. Maybe I used too much oil, but I'm not sure. The final result didn't taste oily.


Pork added. It released a lot of liquid right off the bat, which makes me think the vacuum marinade box did its job pretty well.


Only a few minutes later, even more liquid was released. Notice that it has already started to take on a slightly darker color. By the end of the cooking process, it will be a whole lot darker.


As you can see, there's not much marinade left. When I was cooking this, one of my guests smelled it and asked me -- in the tone of a child making a hopeful plea -- "are you gonna add this to the wok?" and when I replied that yes, I would -- there was much joy and excitement. Heheh.


Here we are, at "Bhuna, stage #1" -- the liquid has been cooked off (well, most of it).


I added the marinade, and "Bhuna'ed" it once more. Since there was so little marinade left behind, it didn't take very long, though. For the third Bhuna stage, I added an entire cup of water, even though the recipe just called for "a little." I don't think this would be of detriment to the recipe, though, since it just prolongs the Bhuna stage, which I think just intensifies the flavor. I might be wrong.

(Waaza, am I correct in assuming this? Oh and hey, I know that Bhuna refers to the method, but what is the literal meaning of this word?)


On the home stretch, now: I added enough water to cover the meat:


The recipe suggests simmering this while covered, for one hour (and then uncovered for 10 minutes, or until the sauce reaches the desired thickness) -- but after half an hour, I decided that the liquid was evaporating too slowly, so I decided to leave the lid off.


It started to take on a darker color, but the evaporation processes was going so slow it would probably take more than twice as long as it was supposed to, so I increased the heat slightly...

This is the last picture I have before plating, and from the color, I'm fairly certain it was taken just before I plated it.


(Cooking can be a demanding task on its own; it's easy enough to forget ingredients or steps... Now, add in taking pictures, trying to think about how to best document the process, figuring out exactly at what stage I should take a picture, and how to take it so that it best describes what is going on -- and avoid getting steam on the camera lens, covering the camera with oil or grease, or dropping the thing on the floor, or in the wok -- is quite the challenge... Sometimes, I feel like I'm a lobotomized gerbil struggling with quantum mechanics. Or something.)

Finally, ta-dah! The finished product.


Sadly, I added way too much cilantro (and didn't chop it finely enough, either), so you can't really see it all that well. Argh! Freakin' bummer, to shoot a crummy picture of plate, after all this -- but then again, I seem to have a natural knack for doing this...

FINAL THOUGHTS Unbelievable. Sometimes I adjust the sizes to make sure I've got leftovers, and I did that last night -- but there wasn't a morsel left. All gone. This would normally make me feel pretty happy, or proud. But I'm actually slightly annoyed, because I was just looking forward to eating those leftovers that much.

Not to blow my own horn, but I've made a few decent meals in my time (for an unschooled amateur, at least), and even a few really good ones -- and just a handful that have resulted in genuine raves. This was one of them -- and I'm not abashed to say this, since the reason for it isn't my cooking, but the recipe itself.

Waaza, btw, my guests told me to thank you! They went nuts over this meal -- even one dude that I know the food was a little too spicy for (I would normally have adjusted the heat down for him, but I was so excited about making this meal that I just forgot. Shoot).

Improvements: I can't think of anything to suggest that would improve this recipe. I wouldn't mind trying a little more or a little less of some of the ingredients, just to see what happens to the end result, but most likely, the next time I cook this I will probably try to follow the recipe just as closely as I did this first time. Maybe the third or fourth time, I'll try to experiment with something, just a little.


-- While not exactly a mistake, I did marinate the meat in a vacuum box for three hours, rather than the recommended 24 hours, but I don't think this made any difference.

-- I did end up crushing and roasting the star aniseed, which isn't in the recipe -- but again, I'm not sure if that had any effect.

-- I might have roasted the spices too much, or over too high heat. I'll try to be more patient the next time around.

-- The cooking process is done over medium heat, so constant attention wasn't needed, but I could probably have stirred the pot a little more frequently. Nothing was burned, but on occasion, things would thicken up a bit at the bottom. This may or may not be a good thing. There certainly wasn't any burnt flavor to it. If it did affect the flavor, it might have made it deeper, or darker.

-- I didn't chop the cilantro (coriander leaves) as fine as I should have.

-- I take pride in cooking for the crowd, so I always tweak things to accommodate individual tastes, but this time I forgot that one guest had a slightly lesser threshold for spiciness -- he still loved it and devoured it, but since I'm sure this would have tasted just as good (or damn near) to the rest of us, I would have toned down the spiciness, had I remembered.

-- And I took another crummy shot of the plate. Something never change.

Well, that's it. Not that I'm a Vindaloo guru or anything, but I think I've come a long way. Thanks again, Waaza.

To recap, here are the tree resulting dishes from my Vindaloo journey...

First attempt:


Second attempt:


Third attempt:


And no points for guessing which of these recipes I'll be using, from now on. :smile:

Man, looking at this made me realize that the third recipe didn't use any tomato sauce at all -- and I was really concerned about that: I was worried that it wouldn't look as nice, without the red tomato coloring! Man, wouldya just look at that dark brown, beautiful color! Ah, I'm drooling again now...

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An excellent post. Thanks.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Hey Grub,

I once ate a delicious pork curry at a Goan friend's house for christmas. I ate a lot of it, considering I didn't even like chicken very much at the time. Unfortunately, I was too young to ask for a recipe, but I think it could have been a vindaloo. I would have requested my Mum to ask the recipe and make it for me, but she doesn't eat pork, nor does she cook it at home. Anyway, I've lost touch with the friend, but I remember that dish as if I ate it yesterday. I tried making a pork vindaloo from one of Madhur Jaffrey's books, but found it quite strong on the vinegar and spices. I didn't like it at all. I was pretty discouraged and wasn't planning to make it again anytime soon - all that trouble for what? I could buy a jar of Patak's if I did want to make it I thought.

BUT look what you've done now! With your beautiful pictures, fabulous commentary and persistence to achieve perfection you've made me feel ashamed for giving up. Sigh! Now I feel too inspired to go and cook. Looks like my plans to laze away a saturday afternoon on the couch in front of the TV and/or laptop are out of the window.

Thanks and congratulations! :smile: Isn't it a great feeling when you arrive at the most perfect version of a dish? I'm rejoicing for you!


Edited to add: Using rice vinegar is a great idea!

Edited by rajsuman (log)
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excellent post, Grub, and I am happy that things worked out so well, good on ya. :wink:

The notes were added to help explain why things were done, and hopefully convey the feeling that the method was based on sound culinary and scientific priciples; what was included applies to all other dishes, as the science is the same. Once we learn about why we do it, and understand it, it all seems to make sence, and our cooking improves accordingly, IMHO.

To answer the points you raise:

'roasting' the spices...... if you have one, use a heavy pan, I use a cast iron frying pan (skillet). It distributes the heat well, and is less prone to draughts. The heat needs to be quite high, as you found. Sniffing the capsaicin-ladened aroma is not to be repeated, best to open a window or use an efficient fume hood. The spices look fine, but I would suggest you leave the fenugreek in for 10 seconds, then remove to a cold ring to stop the roasting asap. The point you make about the star anise is useful. We roast the spices to produce other flavours (with coriander, cumin and fenugreek, maybe chilli). There are known chemical reactions that are induced that change the flavour to produce a 'smokey' aroma, to replace the lack of these flavours from the pork, as we are not taking the meat to a high temperature. In the case of star anise, these flavours are not formed (or if they are, to a much lesser extent), the aniseed-like aroma is due a chemical called anethol(e), and is present in other aniseed-flavoured spices and herbs. The anethol doesn't have (very) reactive chemical groups, so will not take part in any major flavour changes. So heating it only drives off the flavour, not change it, so it actually makes little difference whether you add the star anise to the roasting spices, or after, if you roast it, it may lose some flavour, but that is all. This hopefully explains why 'roasting' spices is necessary for some dishes, but not all, it is not to be applied universally or else all your curries will have a 'roasted nutty' flavour, although I think it common in Sri Lanka (I hope to talk to a local Sri Lankan masterchef about this soon). You could add more aniseed, but it should be enough, the reasons why it was not could be due to the age of the spice, or you used a bit lacking in flavour, or the star's 'leg' was small, but at least you are aware of it, and can adjust it next time. BTW, these are some of the variables which we have to try to control in cooking, and maintain it as an art, as well as a science. Its all part of the cooking experience, and in my book, its the experience which really shows in controlling the variables to get a consistant product. It helps if the recipe is robust and rugged. Let me explain.

If we develop a new recipe (or adapt an existing one, more like it) do we test it for ruggedness and robustness?

These terms have similar, but different meanings.

Robustness deals with internal factors, such as a chef's intentional change (to a small, but insignificant degree, eg will using aniseed instead of fennel alter the flavour?).

Ruggedness is more important, as it deals with external factors, including different:





A recipe is quite often not a validated approach to optimization, but an historic document. It is usually 'this is what I did', rather than 'this is the best that can be done' (given the circumstances!)

So testing the robustness and ruggeness is important, IMHO, so that we can get the best from our efforts.

When you marinate the meat, stir to thoroughly mix, then pat it down to squash it all in the dish, so that the liquid comes above all the meat. If the amount of meat and shape/size of pan don't allow this, then I would agree that more liquid can be added. If this means more liquid is left over, add it in about two tablespoons at a time during the bhuna process, rather than all in one go. What you are trying to achieve is to stop the burning of the spices, so adding water (or water-based liquids) reduces the temperature quickly enough. BTW, I understand bhuna means frying, so the much loved British/Indian restarant dish such as lamb bhuna should be dry, not with a sauce! Hopefully you will learn that there are only a few techniques used in Indian cookery, this is an important one.

The point about the oil and golden onions is fine. What you have found is that when the onions are done, the pan contains only oil, which is spot on. There should be no water left. This is important as the mean temperature will not rise above that of the boiling point of water (100°C, 212°F), and therefore the meat will not brown. It is also important for the oil extraction of the 'woody' spices, like star anise, cassia, cardamom and cloves. At the end of the cooking process, you end up with, essentially, an emulsion of oil and water, that stage is arrived at when the large bubbles of steam reduce in size, and small oil droplets can be seen in the gravy (I call it a gravy, as the meat juices are used in its preparation, rather than a sauce which (in French cooking at least, and British/Indian restaurants in particular) usually has no connection with the meat/fish it is served with. This is one reason, IMHO, why such restaurants can't make a decent curry. :huh:

You say that your guests and you really enjoyed the dish, and yet you still have concerns, thats dedication, good on ya. :smile: Please post any changes you might make, and why you made them.

So, what next?


Waaza :biggrin:

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This mixture was supposed to be roasted until it started smoking, but after nearly ten minutes and no smoke, I increased the heat to "high." (I use an electric stove, so I think the heat doesn't conduct as well as a gas stove.) I added the cracked fenugreek seeds just as the smoke started, and immediately took the wok off the heat.

This seems to have done the trick. The colors seem to be just about right, although the mustard seeds (I think) are fairly dark, so maybe I made a mistake in increasing the heat after all. It was hard to tell from the aroma, since I used a lot of chilis (in fact, once it started smoking, I put my head directly over the wok and took a deep sniff -- BAD mistake! Whoa, what a rush -- my nostrils felt like the smoke stacks at Chernobyl.)

those pungent fumes, called "ghaat" in indian kitchens,

is a sign that things are going correctly :laugh:

just a second or two after that the spices will start to burn.

like waaza said, you need the best hood available do deal

with those.


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Thanks a bunch for all the good words -- that write-up took WAY too long... Gah.

Waaza, okay I'll make sure not to roast the aniseed the next time. And if I make chances, I'll be sure to make a note of it in this thread.

I don't have any really heave pans unfortunately, so I'll probably be stuck with the wok for now.

The patting down you describe for the marinade is exactly what I did.

Next, well I think something rice would be good, but tomato based chicken is worth looking at... But after thinking about this for a while, I realized that there were two dishes that I remember from England, that I'd like to become more familiar with, are Madras and Phal.

Now, Madras was the penultimate curry on the strength-chart (Mild, medium, Madras, Vindaloo), and I obviously realize that the strength of the curry really has nothing to do with this. I've learned that about Vindaloo, of course. But I'd still like to learn what a Madras curry really is -- if it should be a particular meat, like Vindaloo, etc.

Phal is something I never heard about while living in Manchester, but I had it in Wokingham, and it was even spicier than Vindaloo (as served in Manchester, that is). I had been to this place (Wokingham) with a dude and we had the Vindaloo, which was VERY spicy. Next time we went there, he had the Vindaloo, but warned me to not try it since it was very spicy that night (he got there before me) and I poo-poo'ed him, and was about to order the Vindaloo -- but then I was told that this dish Phal was even stronger than the Vindaloo, so I promptly ordered it.

It damn near killed me. Okay, I wasn't in "training" like when I was in college. But this stuff was really, really lethal... HOWEVER, the important thing was, it was also extremely good. It was too strong for me to eat more than 1/3 of it -- and even doing that, was damn near torture. But I did it, cos it just tasted excellent.

Now, if Phal is like the Vindaloo, hopefully, the extreme spiciness isn't actually a proper a part of the dish, and I might be able to recreate it, and eat it, without the extreme heat.

So that'd be an awesome thing to learn.


Milagai -- okay that makes perfect sense. "Ghaaaaat!!" is almost exactly what I said, when I smelled it :smile:

Episure -- aaaaugh. ::groan::

Okay, okay.

There's this little town, and a frog walks into a bank. He walks up to a teller's window where a young lady sporting a nametag, "Patricia Wack" smiles, greets the frog and asks him how she can help him.

The frog tells her his name is Kermit Jagger -- and yes, he IS related, Mick Jagger is his father -- and that he is looking for a temporary loan because he is about to take some friends on a holiday, and his father isn't around, so he can't get his hands on any cash right now.

She asks him how much he is looking for, and he says he needs 30,000 Pounds. Whoa, she says, that's quite a lot -- even with a famous father, we'd expect some kind of collateral for that.

The frog says sure, and very carefully, places a small, exquisitely decorated porcelain elephant on the counter.

Oh! says she. This is most unusual -- I shall have to talk to the bank's manager. Excuse me, Sir, I'll be right back! The frog nods and smiles.

So the teller walks into the manager's office and tells her story, shaking her head in puzzlement and amazement -- but the manager nods appreciatively, and seems to regard the matter as a fairly normal affair.

Her explanation coming to and end, she says, "This is really quite strange, don't you think, sir?" -- holding out the little elephant -- "I mean, this is his collateral? What IS this thing, anway?!"

The manager smiles and replies,








"It's a knick-nack, Paddy Wack. Give the frog his loan. His father is a Rolling Stone."

::rim shot::


Edited by Grub (log)
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how can I break the news, Grub? Neither Madras or Phall are real curries. Sure, there are dishes from Madras, but no dish that I know of is 'a Madras', and AFAIK, phall is pure imagination. I'll go through a typical 'Indian restaurant' menu, and destroy the myths for you.

Anything Balti does not exist in India, it is a name given by certain kinds of restaurant owners who tried to differentiate their food from normal 'Indian' food. What is offerd is usually the same old stuff served in a little wok, or sometimes, a bucket (I'm told balti means bucket in some Indian languages!!) Others will claim Balti derives from Baltistan, which is supposed to be in norther Pakistan, though I've never found it on a map. My eldest son is in N Pakistan at the moment, so he can have the mission....

Bhuna we have dealt with, as you will now know, it means to fry, and is usually a dry dish, made with meat that is able to be quickly cooked, like fillet steak (though not necessarily beef...oops). So there could be many kinds of bhuna dishes, chicken is nice.

Biryani is a type of pilau rice dish, but taken (IMHO, and of other gastronomers) to the pinnacle of rice cookery. It is made using either raw or partially cooked rice, and raw or partially cooked meat/fish. It was not originally a vegetarian dish, and used by the cooks as an example of their (considerable) culinary expertise. It is characterised by the layering of rice and meat, and cooking again, on dum (more about this technique later) with very fragrant ingredients, a truely awesome dish.

Originating in Persia, probably, it means 'fry before cooking' in Persian (is that old Persian or Farsi??), but that suggests the rice is fried before it is cooked (in water). I will give my thoughts to you on rice cooking, all will become clear, then, I hope.

Bombay not a unique dish, but suggesting 'from this noble city' (now called Mumbai, so all those menus will have to be changed...not!)

Ceylon another one out of date (now called Sri Lanka, of course). The curries from Sri Lanka are usually quite different, and use roasted spice mixes, discussed elsewhere. Just as Indian dishes, one could not have a single 'Ceylon' dish, there are so many different individual ones.

dhansak a Parsi dish, made from lamb/mutton (though chicken is used) containing lentils (the Parsi might use several kinds, maybe as many as seven types) and fenugreek leaves, mint, spinach, aubergine, squash and a large number of spices. The often used potato is a recent addition, I think, as is tomato. Often eaten with brown rice, and kebab, for Sunday lunch by the Parsi.

dopiaz meaning two onions, though some will say two kinds of onions, onions added twice, once for the gravy and others added whole as vegetables, and some say any dish with meat and vegetables. I've found that most names of Indian dishes are very confusing, as many names are used for the same dish, or many dishes can have the same name. Just what is a bhaji? or a salan, or even yakni? different strokes for different folks. All very confusing for the non-Indian. Anyway, believe it or not, a dopiaz, usually made from lamb, though chicken is often used, is a kind of korma (see below).

jalfrezi even I am a little confused here, I am told it is an Anglo-Bengali dish, made by Bengalis for the British in Bengal. It is supposed to be a stir fry dish, and is quite dry, and hot with whole green chilli. Meat which is quickly cooked is usually used, like chicken or prawn.

karahi quite popular in India at one time, it is the name of the wok-like vessel used to cook this type of dish. It is unlikely to be a specific dish, and I am inclined to put into the same kind of 'pidgeon-hole' as balti dishes. Maybe that is a little unkind?

Korma not the insipid pathetic mild dish found in 'Indian restaurants', by a method of cooking (cf bhuna). Korma means to braise, or a braising dish. To braise a meat (in this case) we need a little fat and a little water-based ingredient. The meat is never covered completely, (as in a stew) but the top half of the meat joint is allowed to cook uncovered in liquid, as it does so, certain chemical reactions take place (called Maillard reactions, more of that later) which allow the meat to brown. To brown all the meat, the braising dish must be shaken from time to time. The cooking is long, and at a low heat, in an oven (or on dying embers with more on the lid of the cooking vessel, which is usually 'sealed' with a ribbon of pastry/bread dough). The range of different kormas is huge (probably the biggest group of moist-heat cooked dishes) and not necessarily mild, one dish uses more chillies than in a vindaloo! Some other well-known dishes are in this group.

Madras not a dish, by suggestive of dishes from around Madras (Chennai)

Malayan, no comment, obviously anything with fruit and coconut milk!

Masala meaning spice, it has come to mean just about anything from dry spice mix, as in garam masala, to a gravy, such as CTM.

methi true dishes with fenugreek herb used as a major flavouring agent.

pathia a true dish, I think originally Parsi, usually made with prawns (also called shrimp in the US, BTW if you asked for shrimp around here you would be given something else, we are famous for our shrimp..not prawns) A sweet and sour dish, some say with a Chinese influence, although it is not a 'sweet and sour sauce' type (see chasnidhar)

rogan josh this dish, a true dish from Kashmir and Jammu, though others lay claim to it, is a type of korma, and is made with lamb, mutton, goat or chimaera. It is often made as a deep red-coloured dish, the colour being derived from a number of very red ingredients (none of which is tomato, by the way). Some followers of certain religions do not use onions/garlic in this dish, but use asafoetida instead. A very good dish, full of flavour and very warming in the winter months in K&J.

vindaloo you know all about this one....

this list is not exhaustive, there are hundreds never seen on an 'Indian resaurant's 'menu.

so there you have it, I may have left out a few, so if you have any others in mind, let me know, sorry about the phall and madras (well, I'm not, you may be :raz: ), there are much better dishes to try, IMHO. I tried a 'phall' once, it was just chilli powder in ghee, nuff said!

I have left out tandoori/kebabs/kofta, vegetable dishes and the ubiquitous CTM. If you want to creat a CTM yourself, I will give you all the neccessary info on the techniques you could employ, but as we all know, CTM is not an Indian dish.

cheers :biggrin:


Grub, watch this spice, sorry space, for 'all you wanted to know about rice cooking'.... :wink:

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