Vindaloo! The infamous curry house staple, usually with a five out of five chilli rating next to it on the menu and reserved for those who want to prove themselves rather than simply have a good meal.
But a good vindaloo does not have to be all about searing heat. Vindaloo is a Goan dish from south India and is made with a combination of garlic, vinegar, spices and chillies.
The dish has its origins in Europe and was brought over with the Portuguese when they settled in India in the sixteenth century. The word itself brings together the Portuguese word for wine vinho, or vin for vinegar with alhos, or garlic.
The Portuguese also brought chillies to the region from South America and they found their way into the dish giving it its fiery characteristic. The dish was traditionally made with pork meat, not eaten widely in the rest of India, but a staple for the Christian Portuguese.
Anyway, enough of the history, what about the dish?
Vindaloo is equally good with any good quality stewing meat, such a pork, lamb or beef. I’ve gone for beef, not very common in curries but stands up perfectly to the bold spices.
This recipe has been adapted from the fantastic 50 great curries of India by Camellia Panjabi with a few twists including the addition of wine which gives a nod to the dish’s origins in Portugal.
Goan Beef Vindaloo
20 dried whole red Kashmiri chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
5cm cinnamon stick
1 tsp poppy seeds
thumb-sized piece of gingers
6 garlic cloves or one small bulb
¼ star anise
1 tbsp tamarind pulp
4 tsp cider vinegar
3 medium onions finely chopped
900g shin beef cut into 2cm chunks
1 tsp palm sugar
15 curry leaves
½ tsp black mustard seeds
175ml glass of red wine
For the spice paste:
De-seed half the chillies (if you want if hotter you can leave them all in) and soak in warm water to soften for 15-20 minutes. Grind the whole spices (cumin seeds, cloves, cinnamon, star anise, poppy seeds, and peppercorns) to a powder and then blend with the chillies, garlic, ginger, vinegar and tamarind to a smooth paste. Add a little water if the paste needs loosening.
If you have time you can rub some over the meat and marinate overnight but if not you can rub some over the meat while you make the curry.
For the curry:
Heat the oil in a large casserole of heavy bottomed wok and add the curry leave and mustard seeds. When they pop, add the onions and turn the heat down and cook for 20-25 minutes until a deep golden brown.
Turn the heat up slightly and add the red wine and reduce until all the liquid has gone.
Turn the heat down and add the spice paste and fry, stirring continuously for five minutes. Add a touch of water if the paste starts to stick.
Add the meat and cook in the spices for 5 minutes. Add the sugar, salt and enough water to just cover the meat. Reduce the heat and cook for 3 hours until the meat is tender but still holding its shape.
For the best results cook a day in advance and gently re-heat, although you might just want to dive in straight away!