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Authentic vindaloo


g.johnson
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(PS:  my husband has asked me if I want to post his vindaloo recipe, which leaves the pork marinating in the vinegar for the better part of a week.  Yummy. I'll do that later today.)

Interesting stuff about the origin of Balti, there!

But when you putting up that Vindaloo recipe, uh? As impressed and/or obsessed as I've been with Waaza's, I am always willing to try another variant. And I, for one, think the idea of marinating something for a week sounds pretty damn interesting...

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thanks Diane, for the info on Baltistan. My son got there eventually, and had a 'real' chicken karhai, though he has not mentioned it again!

Grub, its not a good idea to smash the onion up. They have a natural defence to wounding, when sulphuric acid-like substances are formed, causing it to produce a bitter taste, and sore eyes. So, keep them as dry as possible, the acid is produced when the substances produced by the enzymes react with water. With a little practice, you should be able to cut up a couple of medium-sized onions in about 20 seconds. I chop them a little differently to the norm., using the layers in the onion as a 'third cut':

Cut the peeled onion in half from tip to root. Place one half flat face down, and thinly slice from top to root of the onion, though not all the way to the root. Then turn the onion through 90 degrees, and slice across the onion, starting from the top end, to the root. Just before the root, stop cutting, and chop the remainder. The oil/ghee should be at temperature before throwing in the onion, so chop 'on demand', not 'mis en plas'. Prepare all the ingredients on demand, there is no need for mis en plas in preparing most Indian dishes, IMHO.

The onion should be cooked so that no (well, very little) water remains. This reduces the risk of acid formation, and leaves the contents of the pot in oil, which is so essential for flavour extraction of spices and browning of meat.

So, practice your knife skills, you will become a better cook. :wink:

BTW, the time reduction was probably more a matter of heat control, after all a 3 minute egg takes just as long to cook as two 3 minute eggs. :biggrin:

cheers

Waaza

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But when you putting up that Vindaloo recipe, uh? As impressed and/or obsessed as I've been with Waaza's, I am always willing to try another variant. And I, for one, think the idea of marinating something for a week sounds pretty damn interesting...

:biggrin: I live to serve. (Well, mostly.) Hope no one minds MealMaster format: it's what I use. "fl" is fluid ounces: "T" is tablespoon, "t" is teaspoon.

MMMMM----- Recipe via Meal-Master (tm) v8.05

     Title: Peter's Goan Pork Vindaloo (via Pat Chapman)
Categories: Indian, Pork, Spicy, Chile-heads
     Yield: 4 Servings

 1 1/2 lb Diced lean pork
     3 T  Ghee or vegetable oil
     4    Garlic cloves, finely
          -chopped
     1    Piece fresh ginger, approx.
          -1 inch long, finely chopped
     6 oz Onion, finely chopped
     6 fl Water
     4 fl Dry red wine
     2 fl Dry to medium sherry
     2 T  Lemon juice
     1 T  Garam masala
     1 T  Chopped fresh coriander

MMMMM--------------------------MARINADE-------------------------------
     4 fl Toddy or sherry vinegar
     2 T  Minced red chilies
     1 t  Turmeric
     2 t  Salt
     1 t  Crushed black peppercorns

MMMMM---------------------------SPICES--------------------------------
    15    To 20 dried birdseye chilies
    10    Cloves
     6    Green cardamoms
     2    Inches cassia bark
     1 t  Cumin seeds
 
 Mix the marinade ingredients together thoroughly in a large
 non-metallic bowl and add the pork. Cover and refrigerate for _one
 week._
 
 To cook the pork, preheat the oven to 375F / 190C. Heat the ghee or
 oil in a pan (karai/karahi, wok or frying pan). Stir-fry the garlic
 for 20 seconds, then add the ginger and 20 seconds later add the
 onion. Now add the spices and stir-fry on a lowish heat for 15
 minutes. Add spoonfuls of water as needed to prevent sticking.
 Transfer this mixture to a 2.5-quart (minimum) casserole dish. Drain
 the pork and discard the marinade;  then add the pork, 6 fluid ounces
 of water, the red wine, sherry and lemon juice to the casserole. Stir
 well, put on the lid and place the dish in the oven.
 
 After 20 minutes, inspect, stir, and add a little stock or water if
 needed. Cook for another 20 minutes, then check again. After an hour
 the pork should be nearly tender. Add the garam masala and fresh
 coriander and cook for at least 10 more minutes. When tender, and
 just before serving, spoon off excess oil. Salt to taste and serve.
 
 (Note:  Peter's addition to this recipe was the discovery that it
 works ever so much better if the pork is left in the marinade [with
 occasional stirring] for a full week. The original recipe calls for
 24 hours.)

MMMMM

For the garam masala:

MMMMM----- Recipe via Meal-Master (tm) v8.05

     Title: Garam Masala (Pat Chapman)
Categories: Indian, Spices, Chili-heads
     Yield: 17 Tablespoon

     9 T  (heaped) coriander seeds
     4 T  (heaped) cumin seeds
     4 T  (heaped) black peppercorns
     4 T  (heaped) dried red chilies
    30 g  (several pieces) cassia bark
     3 T  (heaped) brown cardamom
     6 T  (heaped) cloves

 Lightly roast everything under a low-medium grill or in a low oven.
 Do not let the spices burn. They should give off a light steam. When
 thei give off an aroma, remove from the heat, cool, and grind in
 batches.
 
 After grinding, mix thoroughly together and store in an airtight jar.
 Garam masala will last almost indefinitely, but it is always better to
 make small batches every month to get the best flavors.
 
 (from Pat Chapman's VINDALOO AND OTHER HOT CURRIES: ISBN
 0-7499-1284-7)

MMMMM

...Now it has to be said that Peter is an inveterate tamperer-with-recipes, and there are a couple of things about the way Chapman sets this one out that I'm not sure P. would have followed. In particular, I think P. would have toasted those spices dry, first, and then added the onion and garlic. (But Himself Upstairs is asleep at the moment after a late night researching some short story he's working on, and I can't ask. It'll keep till later.)

I can testify, though, that the pork was most deliciously tender. The long sojourn in the vinegar "ceviches" the pork. At the same time, this vindaloo is emphatically not the ferocious thing of British urban food legend: the long marination takes the mickey out of the chilies somewhat, leaving you with heat, yeah, but a lot more flavor than usual. I have historically not been a big fan of Indian food (my interests run more toward the Swiss/German/Italian end of things), and my heat tolerance is limited compared to P's, but this one surprised me pleasantly.

Best! -- Diane

Diane Duane | The Owl Springs Partnership | Co. Wicklow, Ireland

http://www.youngwizards.com | http://www.dianeduane.com

Weblog: Out of Ambit

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thanks Diane, for the info on Baltistan. My son got there eventually, and had a 'real' chicken karhai, though he has not mentioned it again!

Interesting that the dish he had was a meat one. Maybe my "vegetarian" source was talking through his hat somewhat.

Grub, its not a good idea to smash the onion up. They have a natural defence to wounding, when sulphuric acid-like substances are formed, causing it to produce a bitter taste, and sore eyes.

Can I suggest something? Just from the slightly scientific end of things... What onions produce is, to all intents and purposes, tear gas. Best way to control the dispersion of any gas is to reduce its vapor pressure. The easiest way to do that is to chill it down. Twenty minutes in the freezer will tame even a pretty recalcitrant onion without hurting the texture or the cooking time. My organic chem. teacher put me onto this technique thirty years ago: I haven't cried since. (Not that this does anything about the breaking of the sulfur bonds in the onion, as you point out: but, flavor issues aside, you suffer less...) :wink:

Best! -- Diane

Edited by Diane Duane (log)

Diane Duane | The Owl Springs Partnership | Co. Wicklow, Ireland

http://www.youngwizards.com | http://www.dianeduane.com

Weblog: Out of Ambit

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  • 2 weeks later...

Waaza, thanks for the tip on the onions. I do remember you stressed the importance of cooking the onions immediately after they were chopped, so I've always done that. But obviously, the use of a blender wasn't a good idea, heheh. I think I'll also make sure to use my sharpest knife when I chop an onion up (so as to minimise the "bruising" of the onion). I don't get around to sharpening my chef's knife as often as I should, but I've got a ceramic knife that should do the job nicely.

The method you described for chopping onions seems completely logical and sensible. I'm trying to think of how I normally do it, but for some reason I can't quite picture it -- but your method seems to make perfect sense. I'll do it that way next time around. Thanks!

Diane, thanks for the recipe. I've got it saved off, and will report back once I've tried it out.

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  • 1 month later...

I have been looking at this thread for two months, off and on. Always wanted to cook my favorite Indian dishes. So using your great post Grub, I did it.

I used chicken. I like things really hot so I used twice the amount of dried chiles and at first they were overbearing, but after a couple days in the fridge, it was just hot and delicious upon reheating. This kind of dish definitely does not suffer from being a "leftover".

My question to you and Wazaa is this. The end product came out with not much liquid for a gravy. I would like more of the gravy with the finished product. How do I adjust the recipe and techniques for that?

The second question is: I had to do the last two bhunas much longer than I anticipated. This overcooked the chicken and made it fall apart in strings, as would stew meat in a beef stew cooked a long time. The dish didn't suffer in flavor, but why do you surmise I had to cook it all so long?

Thanks for a great thread, you all.

John S.

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I have been looking at this thread for two months, off and on.  Always wanted to cook my favorite Indian dishes.  So using your great post Grub, I did it.

I used chicken.  I like things really hot so I used twice the amount of dried chiles and at first they were overbearing, but after a couple days in the fridge, it was just hot and delicious upon reheating.  This kind of dish definitely does not suffer from being a "leftover".

My question to you and Wazaa is this.  The end product came out with not much liquid for a gravy.  I would like more of the gravy with the finished product.  How do I adjust the recipe and techniques for that?

The second question is:  I had to do the last two bhunas much longer than I anticipated.  This overcooked the chicken and made it fall apart in strings, as would stew meat in a beef stew cooked a long time.  The dish didn't suffer in flavor, but why do you surmise I had to cook it all so long?

Thanks for a great thread, you all.

John S.

Hey, thanks for reporting back on that one -- it's really nice to hear about stuff like that... Mind ya, I must admit I cringed a bit when I saw the word chicken. How come people only want to do this dish with other meats like chicken or duck -- anything but pork? Will you quit hating on the pork already?!~ :smile::raz: But seriously, I'm sure the dish is fine with chicken or duck -- just as long as you put the meat in later, because it just won't hold up as well as pork, structurally.

Twice the amount of dried chilies?! Whoa, now that's ... man, that's nuts. This dish is hot as hell with the recommended amount. I guess it makes sense that the heat would decline as leftovers. In fact, I suspect that the best part of this dish, is as a leftover. My only problem is, the only time I truly nailed the recipe was the first time, and it was all eaten -- no leftovers...

The lack of gravy, I have experienced also. During the last bhuna stage, you are supposed to add enough water to completely cover the ingredients, but one time I somehow spazed out and just added a couple of cups instead, and the result was a very dry Vindaloo. I don't know if you did anything similar to this, but that's the best I can think of. I guess that the best thing you can do, is to stop the last (or penultimate, depending on how you count it) bhuna stage before too much liquid is evaporated -- I mean, that is your gravy after all. And if you're using chicken, that meat should be plenty tender by that time. Bhuna means cooking it dry, but perhaps the last stage shouldn't leave it completely dry...

The cooking time itself probably depends on the stovetop's capacity, as well as the amount of food that you're cooking. I've ended up spending anything between two and four hours on this dish in total -- prep and all. There's some magical middle-ground between cooking it low and slow enough to make everything blend just so -- and taking it too far and drying it up and making the meat fall apart.

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I have been looking at this thread for two months, off and on.  Always wanted to cook my favorite Indian dishes.  So using your great post Grub, I did it.

I used chicken.  I like things really hot so I used twice the amount of dried chiles and at first they were overbearing, but after a couple days in the fridge, it was just hot and delicious upon reheating.  This kind of dish definitely does not suffer from being a "leftover".

My question to you and Wazaa is this.  The end product came out with not much liquid for a gravy.  I would like more of the gravy with the finished product.  How do I adjust the recipe and techniques for that?

The second question is:  I had to do the last two bhunas much longer than I anticipated.  This overcooked the chicken and made it fall apart in strings, as would stew meat in a beef stew cooked a long time.  The dish didn't suffer in flavor, but why do you surmise I had to cook it all so long?

Thanks for a great thread, you all.

John S.

Hey, thanks for reporting back on that one -- it's really nice to hear about stuff like that... Mind ya, I must admit I cringed a bit when I saw the word chicken. How come people only want to do this dish with other meats like chicken or duck -- anything but pork? Will you quit hating on the pork already?!~ :smile::raz: But seriously, I'm sure the dish is fine with chicken or duck -- just as long as you put the meat in later, because it just won't hold up as well as pork, structurally.

Twice the amount of dried chilies?! Whoa, now that's ... man, that's nuts. This dish is hot as hell with the recommended amount. I guess it makes sense that the heat would decline as leftovers. In fact, I suspect that the best part of this dish, is as a leftover. My only problem is, the only time I truly nailed the recipe was the first time, and it was all eaten -- no leftovers...

The lack of gravy, I have experienced also. During the last bhuna stage, you are supposed to add enough water to completely cover the ingredients, but one time I somehow spazed out and just added a couple of cups instead, and the result was a very dry Vindaloo. I don't know if you did anything similar to this, but that's the best I can think of. I guess that the best thing you can do, is to stop the last (or penultimate, depending on how you count it) bhuna stage before too much liquid is evaporated -- I mean, that is your gravy after all. And if you're using chicken, that meat should be plenty tender by that time. Bhuna means cooking it dry, but perhaps the last stage shouldn't leave it completely dry...

The cooking time itself probably depends on the stovetop's capacity, as well as the amount of food that you're cooking. I've ended up spending anything between two and four hours on this dish in total -- prep and all. There's some magical middle-ground between cooking it low and slow enough to make everything blend just so -- and taking it too far and drying it up and making the meat fall apart.

All of your comments are right on. I'll use pork next time. Sturdier. I forget the cut you used... tenderloin?

I like hot chiles but the Thais added a bit too much flavor. I can back off of those with the added benefit being that others can eat it too! What a novel idea, right? Another thing for me to experiment with is using dried habaneros. I'd get the heat but not the volume.

On the dryness issue, I must have bhuna'd off too much water. Next time I'll leave some extra.

Again, thanks for the great photos. Couldn't do it without them!

John S.

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All of your comments are right on.  I'll use pork next time.  Sturdier.  I forget the cut you used... tenderloin?

I like hot chiles but the Thais added a bit too much flavor.  I can back off of those with the added benefit being that others can eat it too!  What a novel idea, right?  Another thing for me to experiment with is using dried habaneros.  I'd get the heat but not the volume.

On the dryness issue, I must have bhuna'd off too much water.  Next time I'll leave some extra.

Again, thanks for the great photos.  Couldn't do it without them!

John S.

I've used a few different cuts of pork. Waaza's original recipe just calls for "stewing pork," which I did use once, but I ended up not adding enough water so there wasn't enough sauce, and making a few other mistakes, so the end result wasn't quite as good. But the meat was fine, so I'm sure regular "stewing pork" is a good way to go.

The first time, I used some kind of sirloin (if that is the right word for it when talking about pork -- not the tenderloin part, but the bigger, not quite as tender part), and that time, everything just came together perfectly. So that'd be a good one also.

Then there's pork shoulder, which I thought would be perfect for such a slow-cooked dish, but that's quite a bit of work, cutting that thing up into stewing meat... Also, it has a lot of fat, which I tried to remove most of -- but not enough, because the end result was a lot of small, unappatizing pieces of fat floating around (which I painstakingly picked out -- adding even more work and time to an already time-consuming dish). I'm completely mystified why it didn't render out, with such a long cooking time. Perhaps they were pieces of sinew or something.

So I guess regular "stew pork" or some kind of sirloin-type cut is good, but not a shoulder cut or anything with too much fat and sinew tissue.

Tenderloin, I haven't tried. I suppose it would be okay -- it is tender, but should probably hold up better than fowl. If you do try this, I'd certainly like to hear how it worked out.

The chillies I use were bought in an Indian store, brand-name "Hanif's International Foods Ltd." from BC, Canada. The label name is "Chilli Whole Long" or "Chilli Entier." It's a big old 7 oz "Last you a lifetime" $1.49 bag. 10-12 of these makes for a fiery Vindaloo that I and a few others like, but as you say, I want others to eat it too, hehehe. They are basically just dried, red Thai chilies -- and there's some writing on the bag that I THINK is Thai, although I'm not familiar with that script.

I have no idea how Habaneros would affect the dish, but if you try it, I'd love hearing how it might affect the taste. Since the chillies I've got are working out just fine, I probably won't experiment with any other types.

Very cool to hear from anyone who tries this dish -- thanks!

And good luck.

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All of your comments are right on.  I'll use pork next time.  Sturdier.   I forget the cut you used... tenderloin?

I like hot chiles but the Thais added a bit too much flavor.  I can back off of those with the added benefit being that others can eat it too!  What a novel idea, right?  Another thing for me to experiment with is using dried habaneros.  I'd get the heat but not the volume.

On the dryness issue, I must have bhuna'd off too much water.  Next time I'll leave some extra.

Again, thanks for the great photos.  Couldn't do it without them!

John S.

I've used a few different cuts of pork. Waaza's original recipe just calls for "stewing pork," which I did use once, but I ended up not adding enough water so there wasn't enough sauce, and making a few other mistakes, so the end result wasn't quite as good. But the meat was fine, so I'm sure regular "stewing pork" is a good way to go.

The first time, I used some kind of sirloin (if that is the right word for it when talking about pork -- not the tenderloin part, but the bigger, not quite as tender part), and that time, everything just came together perfectly. So that'd be a good one also.

Then there's pork shoulder, which I thought would be perfect for such a slow-cooked dish, but that's quite a bit of work, cutting that thing up into stewing meat... Also, it has a lot of fat, which I tried to remove most of -- but not enough, because the end result was a lot of small, unappatizing pieces of fat floating around (which I painstakingly picked out -- adding even more work and time to an already time-consuming dish). I'm completely mystified why it didn't render out, with such a long cooking time. Perhaps they were pieces of sinew or something.

So I guess regular "stew pork" or some kind of sirloin-type cut is good, but not a shoulder cut or anything with too much fat and sinew tissue.

Tenderloin, I haven't tried. I suppose it would be okay -- it is tender, but should probably hold up better than fowl. If you do try this, I'd certainly like to hear how it worked out.

The chillies I use were bought in an Indian store, brand-name "Hanif's International Foods Ltd." from BC, Canada. The label name is "Chilli Whole Long" or "Chilli Entier." It's a big old 7 oz "Last you a lifetime" $1.49 bag. 10-12 of these makes for a fiery Vindaloo that I and a few others like, but as you say, I want others to eat it too, hehehe. They are basically just dried, red Thai chilies -- and there's some writing on the bag that I THINK is Thai, although I'm not familiar with that script.

I have no idea how Habaneros would affect the dish, but if you try it, I'd love hearing how it might affect the taste. Since the chillies I've got are working out just fine, I probably won't experiment with any other types.

Very cool to hear from anyone who tries this dish -- thanks!

And good luck.

Thanks Grub! I will get back to you after I try any of the vartiations, but I think you and Wazaa have it down. Let me give you some info that I probably will use for myself. There is a cut of pork called cushion meat. It's not generally available at grocery stores. It's a "restaurant cut". But at the higher end stores, it can be ordered ahead. It is only less than two bucks per pound. It's low in fat, but tender. It comes from the shoulder area but it's not a picnic or butt. It comes in about 2 pound chunks, and my store has to order a 5-chunk bag at a time. He uses it in his home-made sausages. Anyway, I use it for chile verde. I think I'll try it for vindaloo.

Until later, John S.

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Thanks Grub!  I will get back to you after I try any of the vartiations, but I think you and Wazaa have it down.  Let me give you some info that I probably will use for myself.  There is a cut of pork called cushion meat.  It's not generally available at grocery stores.  It's a "restaurant cut". But at the higher end stores, it can be ordered ahead.  It is only less than two bucks per pound.  It's low in fat, but tender.  It comes from the shoulder area but it's not a picnic or butt.  It comes in about 2 pound chunks, and my store has to order a 5-chunk bag at a time.  He uses it in his home-made sausages.  Anyway, I use it for chile verde.  I think I'll try it for vindaloo.

Until later,  John S.

Well the cold weather all this talk about Vindaloo inspired me to make another one last night... Again, I made a few unintentional, accidental changes which weren't too bad, but did have a negative effect on the dish -- but I did learn a few things. It is starting to both scare and impress me that unless I do this dish exactly the way it is described, it doesn't turn out the absolute, optimal way. But the more I cook this dish, the more I feel I begin to truly understand it, and the mechanics of the cooking process.

The Vindaloo was great, but it lacked -- I don't know quite how to describe it -- the DEPTH that I had in other attempts. The heat was there, and there was also flavor, but it wasn't as rich and multi-faceted or whatnot. I'm not sure what could have caused this, but these were the things I did differently this time:

First off, I added the turmeric to the marinade, rather than halfway through the cooking process (this was just a stupid mistake made because of poorly made handwritten notes that I hadn't updated on the computer). I'm not sure what effect this had on the process, but seeing that this would leave the turmeric in during the bhuna process, it could have had a negative effect on -- maybe turmeric doesn't stand up to that slightly more "brutal" cooking process.

Secondly, during the first "Bhuna" process, moved the meat and onions up the sides of the wok, so that the liquids would drain into the middle and evaporate there. I did this because I was pressed for time -- which is NEVER a good situation to be in, with this dish. You can't hurry this thing up, at all. This could have affected the taste, because the meat should be in there, being cooked, rather than just staying warm on the side of the wok. Very stupid thing to do.

Thirdly, during the end of the bhuna process, I spent very little time letting it cook in the dry stage. I realize now, that this stage is very important -- the foodstuff starts taking on an appealing, dark color during this process, so I think it's imporant to let it go for a while here -- even if you have to watch it like a hawk and continually stir to avoid it burning. This probably affected the taste also, because it would kinda caramelize the meat and onions somewhat, creating a deeper flavor.

The last thing I did wrong, was to add TOO MUCH water. I added way too little another time, and hearing you doing the same thing, I went overboard. This probably watered out the taste somewhat.

Well, live and learn.

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The camera seemed to malfunction -- flash didn't go off, and it ended up with a really long exposure time. But here's sort of what it looked like, btw:

gallery_28832_1138_62207.jpg

That's the vindaloo over rice with a naan at the top -- a store-bought ocra side dish at the bottom (just picked up with the storebought naan. Local, tiny Indian restaurant does a fantastic ocra dish that they for some reason don't have on the menu. I need to ask what it is called, and how to make it, hehehe).

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  • 4 weeks later...

First of all, kudos to Waaza for the recipe and hats off to Grub for carefully documenting the whole process; it really does help a lot.

With non pork-eaters in the family out of the way, I decided to have a go at it. I followed the directions given by Waaza closely (almost) and would like to note a couple of observations (along with some questions) of the end result:

- The sauce had a thick consistency to it and it was dark but not as dark as the one that Grub concocted. Is it important to have a dark colored sauce?

- I had expected the sauce to have more tanginess and at the first bite, I thought "Hmm...should have added more vinegar". But as I got into it, the subtlety of the vinegar was more enjoyable. I should mention that the pork was marinated for 24 hours in the refrigerator.

- And, now for the most important part, the pork - if you have ever eaten leather shoes cooked for an hour you'll have a pretty good idea of what it tasted like :( It was very tough, hard to bite into and chew, and extremely dry. After eating a couple of pieces, I avoided the meat part and simply concentrated on the gravy which, mind you, was not lacking in any respect.

Waaza's post mentions that something like this would happen if the bhuna process and subsequent cooking were done at high heat. I did get impatient a couple of times - once at the initial stages after the pork had been cooking for half an hour and the reduction was going too slow and a second time, after adding water (that's after the remaining marinade has been added and reduced). I didn't really crank up the heat to high but the water in the pan was close to boiling then simmering (I could see it bubbling as opposed to the one or two bubbles that one is supposed to observer per Waaza). Am I right in assuming that this process is what caused the roughness in the pork?

I was really hoping that this would turn into something really good and that next time we had friends over, Vindaloo would be the main attraction on the table. Pork is unfamiliar terrain to me and this was the first time I actually tried to cook some. So I am thinking of making some vindaloo with chicken next time. In retrospect it was a good idea to try this without an audience.

Again thanks to Waaza and Grub for sharing their knowledge and experience. It was their posts that really inspired me to go through this process.

P.S. Grub, is that wok in the pictures really 45 lb? Where did you get one? I checked Amazon and a few other websites and the heaviest I could see was around 13 lbs. I too am in California and want to prove to the governator I'm no girlie one :) Is it made of cast iron?

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Sandgaw, thanks for the kind words! I'm extremely sorry that the meat turned out so tough -- perhaps we can find a reason why this happened, or if not, I'm sure that if chicken is used with the same cooking process, it will turn out better.

First off, no, the wok doesn't weigh 45 lb at all -- that was a mistake on my part, but after a certain period (24 hrs I think), you cannot edit your own posts anymore on this board. In fact, I made TWO mistakes there -- not only is the weight completely off, I didn't even mean the wok -- I ment the mortar... Duh. The mortar is a Thai style thing (like Jamie Oliver's). The mortar/pestle probably weighs around 10 lb. The wok isn't particularly heavy at all -- just an average cheap, metal wok. Sorry about that.

For the color of the sauce, I THINK that one of the important things, is to be real patient with the onions, and let them go TRULY golden in color. For me, this can take as much as 20 minutes, to get them truly dark and golden.

The "mild-at-first" and then "sneaking-up-on-you" is very typical for good, spicy Indian food, I think. Thai grabs your attention from the first spoonfull, but Indian food just builds up slow. Don't get me wrong, I love Thai food, but this neat build-up of flavor and spiciness is something I really like about Indian food. It's subtle and complex.

Now, the toughness of the pork, I'm somewhat at a loss about... :sad: The only thing that springs to my mind, is the lenght of the cooking process itself. I've used a few different cuts of pork for this dish, of various degrees of natural tenderness, and never had this problem. But the cooking process has tended to be pretty long -- about 3 hours in total. Effectually, you are braising the meat, in between the bhuna processes, and then you have a last cooking period after you cover the meat with water, that lasts around an hour, and all that cooking should make things very tender.

Perhaps the size of the pork chunks had something to do with it? I tend to always cut it fairly small...

Hope anyone else who've tried this can offer up some suggestions.

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Thanks for the info, Grub. Glad the wok thing got cleared up...I spent a few minutes contemplating working with a 45 lb wok :wink: BTW, I have a similar mortar/pestle bought from a Thai store several years ago and it has served pretty well so far.

After reading your post it became clear that I left out bits of information that I should have included. Sorry about that. Here's some more stuff that hopefully will make more sense.

I bought 2 lbs of stewing pork (as opposed to 750 g. per recipe) from a local Safeway. Since this was the first time I bought raw pork I cannot comment much on the quality of the pork. The chunk sizes were somewhat big. I would hazard a guess that on an average they were about 3 bite sizes.

Before marinating, I washed the pork pieces and dumped the marinade on top. Did not cut them into smaller pieces. Maybe that was one of the causes behind the pork toughness.

The onions were fried for 30 minutes or so on low-medium heat. I have fried onions several times before so I sort of know what to expect and this time they reached a decent golden color.

The initial bhuna process after adding the pork took about 45 minutes. I cranked up the heat the last 10-15 minutes because the reduction process was taking too much time. After 45 minutes had elapsed, added water and simmered for 30 minutes, cranked up the heat and semi-boiled for another 15 minutes. The whole process from the moment I put the onions in the hot oil took 2 hours.

At the end, I had lot more sauce than your pictures indicate. Maybe because I didn't cook long enough? I added less than a cup of water. IMO, the taste of the sauce was not affected adversely however. It could have been more fiery; next time I'll add more red chillies.

Does pork appear white inside (like chicken) when it has been cooked? Because that's how mine looked. If it changes color I could use this in the future to see what point I have reached. Also, how tender does the pork get in this dish if properly cooked?

Yesterday evening, after heating up the leftover and taking a bite into a piece, I felt it was more tender than the day before. Could be that the water in the sauce rehydrated it.

Grub, your Sultani Murghi looks very delicious...I am tempted to try it next.

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I've definitely made this dish with regular stewing pork, like you did. But I did cut it up, like I do with any stew. I prefer the pieces to be 1-bite sizes, or basically small enough that you can fit a piece of meat, and something else -- veggies, sauce, whatnot -- onto your fork.

And I think my total cooking time would tend to be far closer to 3 hours, than 2. Between 3 and 4, in fact.

Those are the two things (that I can think of) that may have attributed to the meat being tough.

I'm confused how the water in the sauce could re-hydrate the meat... The meat shouldn't be de-hydrated at all, seeing that this is a braised/stewed dish. But the Vindaloo definitely CHANGES once it becomes leftovers, though. The flavors seem to mix together even better, and also, the spiciness mellows a lot. I've seen people say that it tastes better as leftover, and I would tend to agree -- except I did not like what happened to it, after I froze it...

Oh, one thing about the sauce -- you said you had a lot of it? Well, that happened to me a few times also, so what I did, was to remove the lid during the end of the cooking process, to just let the sauce reduce and concentrate. Seemed to work very well.

Just to be sure about the Bhuna business: there are four separate stages:

- Add meat, cook till dry, uncovered, stirring.

- Add marinade, cook till dry, uncovered, stirring.

- Add cup of water, cook till dry, uncovered, stirring.

- Add enough water to cover meat, cover with lid. At end of process, remove lid and let thicken. Stir occasionally.

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It seems that I cut the cooking time by at least 50%. To make matters worse, the pork pieces were large as well :sad:

I will give it another try after I get back from vacation. Thanks Grub for your help, I'll report back on what happens.

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  • 1 month later...

A few thoughts which may help:

The recipe given is not meant for chicken. As has been found, the flesh gets very tough and stringy. This is one reason why specific dishes demand only one kind of meat, the flavours (from the spices) and those developed during cooking are chosen carefully. I can't agree with cookbooks that say you can sub one meat with another, although I think it's OK sometimes if you know what you are doing.

The amount of chilli really depends on the type of chilli. I'm not certain that many recipes differentiate. Certainly their hotness will vary, not only according to variety, but with age, and region grown. In Goa, as far as I can tell, small round ones (called mundu, from the Portuguese Mundo, meaning world, I would guess) would be used. They are about medium hot.

The amount of gravy is up to you. The meat needs to be covered to cook thoroughly, with the pot lid on. Once tender enough (you decide) you can reduce the amount of gravy to thicken. The best results, flavour-wise, are obtained when an emulsion is formed by combining the water-base and oil-based components.

The meat to use is stewing pork, not tenderloin, if you used this it would get tough. Tenderloin needs quick frying to get its flavour not prolonged cooking.

Don't use habanero chillies, they have a far too alien flavour to be in this dish. Although there are a few varieties of C. chinensis among the ~250 varieties of chilli that grow in India, none have the hab flavour, AFAIK. If you cannot get mundu, then use sanam variety, or if in the US, a cayenne (thats a variety, not the general term for chilli) would be OK.

The bhuna process leaves the contents of the pan with just oil in. This is vital to get the heat that develops the flavours, and to extract that flavour into the oil/fat.

The recipe was developed using well-known and understood culinary and scientific principles. Deviation from the recipe can (and probably will) lead to disappointment. If Grub is starting to understand the principles, I have done my job.

The bhuna process is very important to develop the flavours. The spices (especially coriander, cumin and fenugreek) are chemically changed during cooking (that’s why we pan roast them) but also the proteins in the meat react with sugars in the other ingredients to form those meaty flavours which give breadth and depth to a dish.

The colour of the sauce will reflect the amount of reaction the ingredients have undergone, though take it too far and you will get a black sauce :blink:

The higher the heat, the more the meat shrinks, the more water is squeezed out, and the tougher the meat will be. Better to cook for longer at lower temperatures.

HTH, let me know if there are other questions, please.

cheers :smile:

Waaza

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  • 10 months later...

I used to cook my Vindaloo with a store-bought paste and tomatoes. Grubs' thread(s) made me want to try it from scratch too. I've stacked up on spices and gave it a shot:

Goan_Pork_Vindaloo.jpg

The load of details and directions here is really mind boggling, almost overwhelming. So I wasn't quite sure what I was doing. The dish came out tasty ... but I'm unsure about the color and texture of my dish. The stew pork was cooked tender, but the sauce looks a bit off?

Christian Z. aka ChryZ

[ 1337 3475 - LEET EATS ] Blog

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I used to cook my Vindaloo with a store-bought paste and tomatoes. Grubs' thread(s) made me want to try it from scratch too. I've stacked up on spices and gave it a shot:

The load of details and directions here is really mind boggling, almost overwhelming. So I wasn't quite sure what I was doing. The dish came out tasty ... but I'm unsure about the color and texture of my dish. The stew pork was cooked tender, but the sauce looks a bit off?

Hi ChryZ,

Looks OK. Maybe you feel the gravy should have more liquid?

This is one area where the result depends on the cook. This vindaloo recipe is essentailly a stew, that is, the meat is cooked on low (simmering) heat covered with water-based liquid until tender. If served like this, with plenty of water, as in other stew recipes, the flavour would be lacking somewhat, as it is intended to serve as a rich gravy rather than as a thin stew. So, the quantity of liquid has to be reduced. This can be accomplished, obviously, by taking the lid off the pan and maybe increasing the heat a little. If you do this, the meat may get a little tougher as it shrinks and squeezes out more water from its tissues. If you need to reduce the volume of the gravy, I would suggest you remove the meat first, then raise the temperature of the pan so you can boil off the water to requirement. Note, however, that you could lose quite a bit of flavour if boiled too rapidly. The flavour chemicals from the spices and other ingredients are volatile (or we wouldn't be able to smell them!). When heated at elevated temperature, these volatiles will be lost, and their rate of loss will be related to the temperature * see below.

So, if you think the meat has cooked, remove it from the pan (may be to a serving dish), then reduce the volume of the gravy, and spoon over the meat.

The instructions including the notes are lengthy, but I did it mostly for Grub, who I thought justified the effort and who turned out an excellent result. If you understand all the notes and look only at the recipe, it is quite simple, although some of the techniques may have to be practiced. If one looks at Escoffier's recipes, they are not much more than aide-memoires, for he knew how to cook. Most of my notes are applicable to most Indian dishes, and many are pan-cuisine.

* I have been discussing the issue of flavour distribution/loss with a professor of environmental studies in Canada (he is the world's leading authority on fugacity). Look here at one of my weblogs for more info is needed.

HTH

cheers

Waaza

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Waaza, thank you for your reply. I've reflected quite a bit on the way how I cooked the dish and what I'm going to change in my next attempt.

Your comment about the liquid is spot on, there was definitely too little of it. I'm also going for a less leaner cut next time, there was very little fat and I've made the mistake not to provide any substitution in form of some other additional oil or fat.

I think another shortcoming: I was too careful with the heat while a) preparing the spices and b) while cooking the whole dish. I've never exceed light browning, because I was too worried to burn the spices or the involved garlic. Clearly a lack of experience.

Can't wait to give it another shot.

Christian Z. aka ChryZ

[ 1337 3475 - LEET EATS ] Blog

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Awesome... This is great -- spread the word, and get some more vindaloo out there. :smile:

I thought the picture looked really good -- only maybe a little dry. In fact, it looks a lot like one of my own attempts. When I did the "bhuna" process where you cook it until the liquid is evaporated, and then dry stir-fry it -- the last step, I was supposed to add enough water until it covered everything (and let a lot of it evaporate, but not as much as in the previous processes -- you let it thicken, so it becomes the gravy in the stew, yeah?)... But I messed it up and didn't add enough water, so it was really dry.

On my initial attempt, I somehow totally lucked out and totally nailed it -- on my consecutive attempts, I was wildly over-confident, careless and made various mistakes. All things are relative, and I'm no master chef, but I would say that this recipe isn't a beginner's recipe, you know? It requires attention to detail.

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.. about volume reduction, when reducing the water content of the gravy, when boiling (or a rather fast simmer is better) the bubbles (of steam) are quite large to begin with. As the bubbles burst, droplets of gravy are carried into the surrounding atmosphere with loss of flavour, but mostly quantitatively meaning all the flavours components are lost to the same extent. If just assisted evapouration is used at lower temperatures, different flavour compounds will be lost at different rates, and this could change the overall flavour of the dish !! When the bubbles become smaller (and are produced more quickly) this is the ponit when the water and oil/fat combine in a kind of emulsion, and is the point at which you should stop heating. The gravy formed in this way will contain water and oil/fat and be the most flavoursome and have a good mouthfeel. This is when I would add salt if needed, not before.

I would say the method is straight forward, maybe a few techniques need to be practiced and a bit of experience needs to be 'tucked under the apron'. However, these techniques are transferable to other dishes/cuisines, and not confined to Indian cooking. Apart from really specialised techniques in other cuisines, I believe Indian food preparation methods cover most of what is needed for most dishes/cuisines, and some are peculiar to Indian food prep. only. That is why I would put it up there with French and Japanese cuisines. Learn how to cook Indian dishes, and most other dishes are covered as well.

The recipe is very detailed for the reason given above, and I believe a good reason. I am very familiar with writing analytical chemistry methods (could ya tell?) but they don't contain the rational behind the method. I think this is a missed opportunity to educate. Thats why the notes are extensive, though other recipes may include very similar notes, so once learnt and experienced, the notes are not so important, hence my comment about Escoffier (et al). However, when showing staff how to perform certain analytical methods, there is a period when the techniques are learnt, this is known as tech (nical) transfer, and is a check to prove proper proceeds are carried out. In most recipe books, all you get is a recipe, but without explanation, often without a picture or two which may have clarified things. How is the in/experienced cook supposed to know what the finished product should taste/look like?

Not for the beginner? well maybe not, although very good for learning and practicing and understanding. These multi-phasic recipes are complicated at first sight, but can be broken down into more managable chunks: marination, frying (bhunoing) browning, stewing, reduction. All easy, even the bhunoing with a little practice, it is only an oil extraction method, with tempering with water to reduce the chances of burning, (like all near-burning techniques :raz:)

And the recipe is more involved than 'bung it in a pan and heat'. But you get out what you put in, and some: synergy. Its what separates the chefs from the cooks :shock:

cheers and a happy new year to everyone

Waaza

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  • 11 months later...

So i always get vindaloo at restaurants and it's my favourite curry. I love the sourness of it. But I have tried about 8 different recipes all very different from eachother and i can never replicate it like i get it from a restaurant. Does anyone know the secret or great recipes? I have tried different amounts of vinegar or tamarind but nothing ever comes out like the pro jobs.

"Alternatively, marry a good man or woman, have plenty of children, and train them to do it while you drink a glass of wine and grow a moustache." -Moby Pomerance

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  • 3 weeks later...
So i always get vindaloo at restaurants and it's my favourite curry. I love the sourness of it. But I have tried about 8 different recipes all very different from eachother and i can never replicate it like i get it from a restaurant. Does anyone know the secret or great recipes? I have tried different amounts of vinegar or tamarind but nothing ever comes out like the pro jobs.

That is because restaurants ( 99%) make ' basic' chicken and lamb curries then 'doctor' them to produce diferent dishes on the menu.

For Vindaloo they will heat the curry in a pan with some cubed fried potaoes, cayenne powder, garam masalla and some vinegar. Some restaurants will even add a drop of red food color.

Bombay Curry Company

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

Delhi Club

Arlington, Virginia

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