As with any country, you can find traces of its history in its cuisine. Pork vindaloo, famed for its fiery heat, speaks directly to the Portuguese occupation of the southern Indian state of Goa. As Neela explains, "Carne de vinha d'alhos, a Portuguese dish made with pork, was the basis of the now-famous vindaloo served in Indian restaurants. Although many make it with lamb, chicken, or shrimp, I prefer the original recipe with pork, redolent of tamarind, vinegar, and black pepper."
Making this vindaloo at home gives you the opportunity to control the heat level of this dish. Even if you choose to lean towards a more fiery flavor, many of the elements of this recipe help it maintain a sense of balance, no matter the level of heat.
The browned onions and fennel in the tadka create an earthy-sweet backbone, and the sour tamarind pulp stirred in at the end creates a sharp heat that flickers in and out, rather than a flat bite that sits on your taste buds. The pork itself grows tender and melting under the long, low-and-steady heat of the slow cooker.
Serves 6 to 8
1 (3 1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
4 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2- to 2-inch cubes
10 to 12 cloves garlic, minced
3 to 6 serrano chiles, minced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 teaspoons ground Indian red chile
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
4 to 6 cloves
3 to 4 black cardamom pods
20 black peppercorns
1 (1-inch) piece cassia
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons tamarind paste (see Recipe Note)
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Before prepping the ingredients, turn the slow cooker on to the HIGH setting for 15 minutes, until the insert is warmed through. Julienne 1 inch of the ginger and set aside for garnish. Mince the remaining ginger.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat, with a lid handy. Tilt the skillet to pool the oil and add the fenugreek seeds; cover immediately to prevent splattering. When the seeds have stopped sputtering, add the onions. Sauté the onions for 7 to 8 minutes until light golden-brown. Add the browned onions to the slow cooker and mix in the pork, minced ginger, garlic, serrano chiles, turmeric, ground red chile, and salt. Cook on low heat for 3 1/2 hours.
Grind together the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, cloves, cardamom, peppercorns, cassia, and sugar in a spice grinder. Add the ground spice blend to the pork, mix well, and continue to cook on low for an additional 30 minutes. Turn the slow cooker off and stir in the tamarind pulp and vinegar. Serve garnished with the julienned ginger.
- If you have bulk tamarind pulp, use a 2- to 3-ounce piece to extract the paste.
Reprinted with permission from The New Indian Slow Cooker by Neela Paniz, copyright (c) 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press.