“It’s a six pinter”, says a customer, forking what looks like mystery meat, floating in lipstick red curry on stale rice. He is wiping off sweat, making sure not to smear that bright red on his favourite football club tee-shirt. This backstreet eateries vindaloo, with potatoes and carrots, is his favourite after 6 pints of beer. This is yet another ‘version’ of this famous Indian ‘curry’.
Cut to a coconut tree shaded verandah of an old Portuguese villa with Mangalore roof tiles, a chilled glass of Urrak served with some lemon, salt and chilli in a leafy green hamlet of South Goa. Lunch today is a simple affair, a pile of fresh Poie (wheat bread) and Katla Pao (butterfly bread) from the local Poder (bread delivery man) and a burgundy bowl of Vindaloo. The best way to enjoy this perfectly braised meat, with bits of pillowy fat, is to mop it up with its warm, spicy tangy braising sauce. I hate to call this gem just another curry!
The venerated but often butchered Vindaloo, made its way to Goa like many other things with the Portuguese. It comes from a Portuguese sea time favourite the ‘Carne de Vinha d’Alhos’ Portuguese for “meat in garlic marinade”. It is traditionally preserved in wooden barrels of alternate layers of pork and garlic, and soaked in red wine. Over time palm vinegar was substituted for the red wine. Also, the addition of spices makes it what it is today. Another important Portuguese influence is in the form of the chilli peppers, which they introduced, to much appeal in India of then and now.
With the usual variations that come with time, the tried and tested spices and aromatics increased. But the standard bearers are black peppercorn, cumin, coriander, tamarind, loads of garlic, ginger, and most important, the cloves that add that signature warmth. One ingredient I separated from the rest is the dried red chili that should be soaked in vinegar or water or a combination. The choice of red chilies best adapted to modern tastes is the whole dried Kashmiri red chili. It adds signature smokey overtones without overdoing the heat.
There are recipes that require the meat be marinated in the garlic and spice paste to amp up the flavour, those are variations one can play with, over time. What I find strange is the addition of potatoes to the Vindaloo in India. Perhaps because it sounds the same as the Hindi world ‘Aloo’ (potatoes), or perhaps they had a Bengali cook. Another mystery ingredient is tomato paste, which adds nothing but tannin notes where not required.
Mutton Vindaloo Recipe: Perriera Family Recipe, as told by Russell Periera:
This here is a recipe from a dear friend and Goan native, Russell Perriera who stole this from his mum. Now we know how his mum reacted at the end of an episode we shot together, but we will chalk that up to lighting issues. I am also going to change up the meat from Pork to Mutton, to make it more acceptable to a wider audience.
Dry Spices: should be lightly roasted in a pan to release their aromatic oils and then ground to a powder in a blender:
- Cumin: 3/4th tablespoon
- Coriander Seeds: 1.5 heap tablespoon
- Black pepper: 1.5 tablespoon
- Cloves: Half tablespoon
Wet Spices & Aromatics: Should be added to the same blender with dry spice above and ground to a paste:
- Kashmiri Red Chilies: de-stemmed, whole soaked in palm vinegar for 4 hours
- Garlic: full garlic pod, shelled or approx. 2 heap tablespoons
- Ginger: 1 inch root or 2 heap tablespoons
- Tamarind pulp: 1/3 Cup of soaked tamarind pulp
Once a paste like consistency has been achieved, then add and continue blending for 30 seconds.
- Sugar or Jaggery: 1 tablespoon
- Salt: 1 table spoon
- Palm or White Vinegar 1 Tablespoon, adjust to taste
Meat: 1 kg of boneless mutton:
- Marinate the meat in a half teaspoon of salt and black pepper and 1 heap table spoon of ginger & garlic paste for 6 hours before cooking.
- Brown the meat in half cup of cooking oil and once browned on all sides, remove for resting. making sure to leave the sticky bits called fond in the bottom of the pan.
- Add 2 tablespoons of oil and sauté 4 thinly sliced Onions in the same pan until brown.
- Add 4 large heap tablespoons of the spice paste into browned onions and cook slowly
- Add the browned meat to the same pan and deglaze the bottom of the pan with juices
- Cook for 45 minutes or until the meat is tender and cooked.
- Adjust salt and vinegar of needed rest the cooked dish for 4 hours before eating.
About Author: Sid Mewara is an eminent food vlogger, who runs ‘The Big Forker’ YouTube channel.
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