Dish of the Week: Pork Vindaloo

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’re taking a look at vindaloo.

Also written as vindalho or vindaalo, "vindaloo" is the name for a curry dish popular in the Goan region and other parts of India. The dish can be made with pork, beef, goat, lamb or chicken.

It may be known as a scorching curry house staple these days, but it was first derived from carne de vinha d'alhos – a Portuguese pork dish marinated in garlic and wine vinegar.

According to Lizzie Collingham's article "Fired Up" in Saveur, the specialty made its way from Portugal to India in the 15th century, with several modifications introduced along the way. Since there was no wine vinegar in India, local priests fermented their own from palm wine. They also incorporated local ingredients like tamarind, black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom, but most important, red Kashmiri chile peppers.

When the Brits occupied India in the late 18th to early 19th century, they enjoyed the amalgamation of cultures in the dish so much that they brought it back to England. While the vindaloo you’ll find in most curry houses today is smothered by the heat of chiles, traditional Goan recipes maintain the deep, earthy flavors of cardamom and cinnamon.

This recipe from Saveur keeps the integrity of the vindaloo's origin with spices like cinnamon, cumin and ginger. You'll need a spice grinder to make the flavors truly pop, but if you don't have one, use about 1/2 teaspoon of ground spice for every 1 teaspoon of seeds.

Pork Vindaloo (Spicy Goanese Pork Stew)

Ingredients serves 4
2 lb. boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2" pieces
1?3 cup white wine vinegar
1 (2") piece of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp. cumin seeds (or 1/2 tsp. ground)
1 tsp. poppy seeds(or 1/2 tsp. ground)
10 whole black peppercorns (or 1 tsp. ground)
6 chiles de árbol, stemmed
4 whole cloves
1 tbsp. tamarind paste
1?2 tsp. ground turmeric
8 cloves garlic, 4 peeled, 4 roughly chopped
3 small red Thai chiles or 2 red jalapeños, stemmed
1?3 cup canola oil
1 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 stick cinnamon, halved
2 small green Thai chiles or 1 serrano, halved
1 large yellow onion, sliced
1 tsp. grated jaggery or brown sugar
Kosher salt, to taste

Toss pork, vinegar and salt in a bowl. Cook cumin and poppy seeds, peppercorns, chiles de árbol and cloves in an 8" skillet until seeds pop, 1–2 minutes. Let cool and transfer to a spice grinder; grind into a powder and add to pork.*

*If you aren't using a spice grinder, add the toasted chiles to the food processor in the next step.

Purée tamarind paste, turmeric, peeled garlic, red chiles and ginger in a food processor into a paste and add to pork. Toss to coat; cover and chill 4 hours.

Heat oil in a 6-quart saucepan over medium-high; cook mustard seeds and cinnamon until seeds pop, 1–2 minutes. Add chopped garlic, green chiles and onion; cook until slightly caramelized, 8–10 minutes.

Stir in pork and its marinade; cook until paste begins to brown, 5–7 minutes. Add salt and 1-1/4 cups water; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered and stirring occasionally, until pork is tender, about 1 hour. Stir in jaggery; cook until thickened, 8–10 minutes.
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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
Contact: Brooke Viggiano