(Again. How many times have I started a post that way?)
You see what happened was this. Every holiday season I host a big Indian dinner for my in-laws, our Christmas dinner for that side of the family. (I did not this past year because of moving.) And I started this blog in January 2008, which means that I had just made several Indian dishes, including some of my favorites, right before this blog started–which is why I am only getting around to making this tried and true Laura classic now. While visiting my in laws, of course.
I might have tried to make a new dish for them if we were at my house with my kitchen, but after offering to make dinner while visiting them, I then decided that the idea of 2 new dishes (a cauliflower side dish will be posted soon) just felt like too much work. Then I remembered how much everyone, myself included, loved this vindaloo.
When I first started making this dish, about 10 years ago now (!! –it predates my exploration of more authentic Indian cuisine and I am not sure how traditional the recipe is), it was one of the first things I made for my husband. He loved it. I thought maybe my family would like it too (little did I realize back then just how much my family does not care for Indian food), and so I made it for them, increasing the mustard seeds but massively reducing the pepper flakes for my heat-averse mother (I did not know to sub in paprika then). Well little did I realize apparently mustard seeds carry their own type of heat…. my mom was unable to eat it at all. My dad ate it and when I said I had cooked my way into John’s heart with it, my dad muttered “More like set off an atomic fire bomb!”
I think that was my first and last experiment with cooking Indian food for my parents. And, lest I have scared you off from the dish, subbing in paprika works just fine and both my kids were able to eat this when I made it. But back then I used Penzey’s super hot Pakistani red pepper flakes.
When I made it for Christmas, as a “special” dish, I made the sauce alone (first I marinated the duck with it, and then cooked it alone) and drizzled it over seared duck breasts. So just know that the sauce is flexible and does not have to be made with the meat in it.
A further note about sweetness: when I first started making this dish the pungent sour heat just called out for being balanced with sweet to me. So we put a decent chunk of brown sugar in it. I recommend you make the marinade/sauce with the called for 1 tablespoon of brown sugar–and then add to taste at the end.
**Thanks to my mother in law, who does not think I am crazy for photographing my food and who took all of these photos for me.**
Goan Style Pork Vindaloo
Adapted from The Curry Book, Nancie McDermott
1 T ground cumin
1 1/2 t red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper or paprika (feel free to make hotter)
1 t coriander
1 t cassia-type cinnamon
1 t freshly ground black pepper (feel free to make hotter)
1/2 t ground cloves
1/2 t ground cardamom
1 T brown sugar (taste for adding more at end)
1 t salt (taste for salt at end as well)
1 t paprika
1 t turmeric
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 heaping T chopped ginger
1/2 cup cider vinegar (white subs ok)
For the sauce:
2 lbs pork loin, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 T ghee
2 1/2 t black/brown mustard seeds
1/2 cup water
Combine the first 7 ingredients of the marinade and toast them in a hot skillet. It will take 1-2 minutes and you will know they are done when are a shade or 2 darker, and quite fragrant.
Dump the spice mix as well as all of the other marinade ingredients (except the vinegar) into a blender of processor. If using a processor, blend and then add the vinegar to make a smooth paste. If using a blender, put the vinegar in first and make a smooth paste.
Dump the marinade paste over the prepared pork and refrigerate for up to 24 hours and at least 2 hours.
When it is time to cook, heat a large, heavy pot (I have also used a very large deep saute pan) over medium high heat. Add the ghee–do not let the ghee get super hot because you do not want the mustard seeds to burn. Add the mustard seeds and cover the pot with a lid. Let the seeds pop for 10-20 seconds. When they are done, add the pork in its marinade. Cook the pork for 3 minutes, stirring. Then add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat very low and cover for 45 minutes.* When the pork is quite tender, remove the pork with a slotted spoon and let the sauce simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes to reduce and thicken it. Add the pork back in, bring to a simmer. Taste for salt and brown sugar. Serve with basmati rice.
*If you are using a tender cut of meat (I never find pork loin to be super tender), such as pork tenderloin or fish loin, then cook the pork uncovered and do not reduce the sauce after the pork is cooked.