Meera:”I’ve been thinking about vindaloo ever since I got back from Goa where I spent two weeks hunting for the perfect one. Finding a single best vindaloo is very difficult because it is a dish with two very distinct personalities depending on where you are in the world.
In India, it’s really only available in Goa, where the dish originated from and is traditionally made with pork. Few other states in India consume pork but as Goa was under Portuguese rule for 451 years from 1510 to 1961 and the Portuguese happen to be some of the pig’s biggest fans, there it is consumed en-masse and mostly with chilli which was also introduced to India by the Portuguese.
In fact the original Vindaloo is an adaptation of the Portuguese ‘vinho e alhos’ meaning ‘wine and garlic’ in which the pork is marinated and cooked in white wine vinegar (now coconut/toddy vinegar) and garlic combined with a warming garam masalas of pepper, cloves and cinnamon. The overall effect is sweet and sour, pungent and warming. The sauce is thin, not cloying and yes hot, but not ear-tinglingly so. The pork is of the best kind: succulent sweet and soft.
It is the Goan vindaloo which I love and for which I have re-created my perfect vindaloo recipe for here.
The recipe uses pig cheek. Somewhat of an unknown cut which is cheap but slowly gathering a reputation for itself. You may think that these little pockets of muscle might not have anything to offer but cooked long and slow they transform into magical silky soft threads of pork which yield easily to sauce and under teeth and tongue. Worth hunting down for sure but you could use shank (un-smoked) or shoulder too if you like.”