Why It Works
- Generous amounts of rendered fat and vinegar make pork vindaloo one of the best dishes to have after a few days.
- Make the spice paste and use just as much as you need since it stores well in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
It's the dish that the Portuguese left us with hundreds of years ago and adorns tables in Catholic homes over feast days and lazy Sundays. The "vin" part of the dish is derived from the Portuguese for wine or wine vinegar and the "aloo" translates as garlic.
These are the primary ingredients that go into this popular pork preparation, with the usual suspects of fiery dry red chiles and peppercorns. As legend goes, the chiles and pepper were the Indian addition to the Portuguese dish, which was more like a garlicky stew.
Pork Vindaloo is hot and unashamedly so. It also seems to use a mini lake of vinegar and rendered fat, but it is the combination of these ingredients that makes it one of the best dishes to have after a few days. The fat forms a sealing layer when solidified and the spices and vinegar intensify over time, infusing into the meat more and more, giving it its characteristic hot and sour taste. The recipe has seen many adaptations for non-pork eaters, with even a vegetarian version which uses meatier (sorry) vegetables like aubergines, potatoes, and mushrooms. But the original-flaky pork meat, capped with delicious soft fat that has soaked in all the tart and spicy goodness of the masala is the stuff that will make you a devotee.
You could make the spice paste and use just as much as you need. It stores well in the fridge for a couple of weeks because of the vinegar in the blend. Just make sure you don't add water while blending it. And there! You could be making another batch of vindaloo in a jiffy just as the craving kicks in, as it surely will in the next few days, with this recipe.
This recipe was originally published as part of the column "Beyond Curry."
15 dried Kashmiri chiles (see notes)
2 teaspoons toasted whole cumin seeds
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 (1-inch) pieces of cinnamon, divided
9 whole black peppercorns, divided
7 whole cloves, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
10 garlic flakes (or 2 medium cloves garlic, roughly chopped)
1 inch-piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 cup palm vinegar, or 1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/2 pound pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 medium onion, roughly chopped (about 1 cup)
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup water
Combine chiles, cumin, turmeric, 1 piece of cinnamon, 5 peppercorns, 4 cloves, and sugar in a spice grinder. Grind until a fine powder is formed. Transfer spice mixture to food processor or mortar and pestle and add garlic, ginger, and vinegar. Process or pound until a fine paste is formed. Scrape out paste into a small bowl and set aside without washing food processor.
Place pork in a large bowl and season with salt. Add half of spice paste and turn pork to coat. Add onion to food processor and process until a paste is formed.
Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion paste (do not wash food processor bowl), remaining 4 peppercorns, remaining cinnamon stick, and remaining 3 cloves. Cook, stirring constantly, until onion is soft and oil is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add remaining spice paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oil separates and mixture starts to sizzle, about 5 minutes longer.
Add pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 10 minutes. Add water to the food processor bowl and swirl to rinse. Pour mixture into pan and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover, and cook until the pork is fork tender, about 1 hour longer. Serve immediately with bread or rice, or for better flavor, cool, store overnight in a sealed container in the refrigerator, and reheat before serving.
Don't be alarmed by the amount of oil that will surface once the dish is made. This is necessary as it forms a layer over the pork and preserves it for future eating. Pork vindaloo is often had over days and preserves well in the fridge because of this.
Kashmiri chiles can be found in Indian specialty shops or online. Alternatively, use chiles de arbol.
Spice grinder, heavy-bottomed lidded saucepan, food processor or mortar and pestle
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 30g||38%|
|Saturated Fat 8g||39%|
|Total Carbohydrate 33g||12%|
|Dietary Fiber 8g||29%|
|Total Sugars 9g|
|Vitamin C 40mg||200%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|