Classic Pork Vindaloo
India is a diverse country and even as someone who lived there for years, I regularly discover new recipes and food histories. I first came across pork vindaloo on a restaurant menu and the vinegar-based sauce, very different than most Indian curries, piqued my interest. So I read some more about vindaloo! According to most of the information out there, vindaloo is a dish the Portuguese colonizers brought to India in the 15th century. The vin refers to vinegar and aloo is the Portuguese word for garlic. The vinegar was helpful in preserving meat during the long trips to India and in India's hot climate (colonizers need their protein, of course, to keep colonizing). As the name indicates, this recipe calls for a good amount of garlic and is almost always spicy, though you can adjust that to your liking. Today, vindaloo is still a popular dish in the Western state of Goa, where the Portuguese first landed, and is also quite popular in the UK.
You can make vindaloo with any protein but pork is the most traditional option. I also love a slow-cooked pork shoulder, so this was the perfect option. My recipe below is a mishmash of recipes by Mallika Basu, Madhur Jaffrey, and Anjum Anand, the three women I turn to for Indian dishes my mother did not cook growing up. All three recommend marinating the meat for at least an hour and if you can, overnight. Do not rush the cooking! Let the pork cook for a good 45 minutes to get that melt-in-your-mouth texture. We had our vindaloo with jasmine rice, roasted asparagus, and a quick raw radish salad. It was a perfectly decadent and satisfying meal at the end of a hectic work week.
- 12 oz pork shoulder, cut into chunks
- 1 medium onion, sliced
- 4 tsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 8-10 cloves garlic
- 1 in piece ginger
- 2 green cardamom pods
- 4 dried red chilies (available at any India/Asian grocery store or on Amazon)
- 10 black peppercorn
- 5-6 whole cloves
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/2 in stick cinnamon (optional)
- 1/2 cup water
- cilantro to garnish
- salt to taste
- Make the marinade. Grind or crush in a mortar and pestle the cardamom pods, dried red chilies, black peppercorns, and cloves. Next, blend this spice mixture with the vinegar, garlic, and ginger. Add this paste to the pork shoulder. Add the turmeric and coriander powders and mix well. Marinate the meat for at least an hour and overnight, if possible.
- Once the meat is marinated and you're ready to cook, place a pot over medium heat and add the oil. Once the oil heats, add the cinnamon stick (if using) and flavor the oil for 30 seconds to 1 min.
- Add the sliced onions to the oil, sprinkle some salt, and cook for 15 mins, stirring frequently. The onions should turn golden brown and very soft.
- Increase the heat to medium-high heat. Add the meat, some more salt, and water to the pot. Mix well and cook for 5 mins.
- Lower the heat to medium low and place a lid on to fully cover the pot. Let the meat cook for a full 45 mins, stirring briefly every 15 mins to make sure it's not sticking to the pot. Depending on the consistency you like, you can also add more water to the pot during the last 15 mins (I did not need to do this).
- Remove the pot from the heat, taste and add more salt as needed, and garnish with cilantro.
- Serve with basmati or jasmine rice!