This is a classic pork vindaloo from Eleanor Ford’s The Nutmeg Trail and she describes it as “an assertive, almost pickle-sour braise“. Made from pork shoulder, this recipe brings together ingredients and ideas from three continents. Its roots are in a Portuguese pickled pork dish called carne de vinho e alhos, which melded with the spices and chillies (a relatively new ingredient to India at the time this dish was born) favoured by the Catholic community of Goa.
Be warned, this dish bears no relation to the “hottest dish on the menu” vindaloo beloved of British Indian curry houses!
Read our full review of The Nutmeg Trail by Eleanor Ford to find out more about the book. We were captivated by the history and stories of spices and how they travelled around the world.
Pork Shoulder Vindaloo
An assertive, almost pickle-sour braise resulting from three continents’ ingredients and ideas coming together. It is notably not, however, the vindaloo that has evolved in British Indian curry houses, which holds the dubious honour of being the hottest dish on the menu. Here, the intensely red masala comes from Kashmiri chilli powder, which brings more in colour and flavour than heat.
The dish is from the Catholic community of Goa, with roots in a Portuguese pickled pork dish called carne de vinho e alhos. Fifteenth-century spice-seekers from Portugal brought the notion to India, where it acquired local spices. Another key addition were chillies, also newly imported by the Portuguese from the Americas. It is a dish forged in a time of empire building and appropriation, but emerges as an exemplar of integration.
Choose a slightly fatty cut of pork for unctuous results, and make a day ahead if you can. This will allow the flavours to mellow and mingle.
- 500 g (1lb 2 oz) pork shoulder, cut into 3cm (1 ¼ inch) chunks
- 3 tablespoons neutral oil
- 2 large onions, finely sliced
- 3 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
- 2 teaspoons tamarind paste
- 2 teaspoons jaggery or brown sugar
For the spice paste
- 4 teaspoons Kashmiri chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
- ¾ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 4 cloves
- 4 green cardamom pods, seeds only
- 4 garlic cloves, minced minced
- 3 cm (1¼ inches) ginger, peeled and minced (1 tablespoon)
- 60 ml (¼ cup) wine vinegar
Mix together all the ingredients for the paste in a bowl. Toss in the pork, staining it brick red, and marinate for 2–3 hours, or overnight in the fridge.
Over a medium heat, warm the oil in a casserole pan and fry the onion until soft and pale golden. Add the pork and its marinade and cook, stirring frequently, for 5–10 minutes until the spice paste starts to brown.
Stir in the tomatoes, tamarind and jaggery. Loosen with a small splash of water. Bring to a bubble then cover and turn the heat right down. Simmer for 1 hour or more, stirring occasionally. The pork should be tender and the masala thick and clinging – partially remove the lid towards the end of cooking if it needs to reduce. Rest before serving or make in advance.
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Kavey Eats was provided with a review copy of The Nutmeg Trail by Eleanor Ford from publisher Murdoch Books. Photography by Ola O. Smit.