February 13, 2010
Spicy? Check. Saucy? Check. Exotic? Check. Tasty? HELL YES. And this is why I love East Indian cuisine.
What’s crazy is that I wasn’t truly introduced to the country’s various culinary offerings until my co-worker from my old day job (hm, five or more years ago?) took me out to lunch at a converted Wendy’s location called Punjab Sweet House. One spoonful of their butter chicken and I was sold. I had to try more dishes!
Now, like any good foodie, the next step was to find out if I can make this all at home. After watching At the Table With… episode on Madhur Jaffrey, I set out on Amazon to find a well-reviewed book of hers. I ran into Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking and I can’t recommend this book enough for the Indian cookery n00b.
Each recipe has its own story, explanations of exotic ingredient substitutions (she uses grainy mustard instead of marinating mustard seed in vinegar), as well as an index of all the general Indian spices you should have in your pantry. In Edmonton, it’s actually quite easy to find all the spices right in the Ethnic aisle of any generic Superstore, and the spices are really inexpensive. What Jaffrey also does with most (though, unfortunately not all) recipes is suggest side dishes to go with the meal. It helps make a dinner spread a little more involved instead of the regular one-course offerings.
One of my favourite dishes, which is on my dinner rotation regularly, is Jaffrey’s Pork Vindaloo.
It’s an extremely easy dish to make for all you carnivorous fans out there. The only real “exotic” ingredients that you will have to add to your pantry for this one are: cumin and tumeric. Everything else is pretty standard. We have tried this vindaloo with lamb as well, but we prefer the taste of this with pork.
It’s a saucy dish that must be paired with some good white rice. To be honest, I just throw in a salad as a lazy side because I feel guilty I’m just eating tasty, saucy meat with rice, and not a green vegetable in sight.
Recipe adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Quick & Easy Indian Cooking. Comments in italics.
1 1/2 tbsp grainy mustard
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cayenne pepper (add more if you like it spicier. Jaffrey says 4 tsp is what Goans prefer.)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp red wine vinegar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion—cut into half rings
6 cloves garlic—crushed
1 1/4 lb boned shoulder of pork—cut into 1” cubes
1 can coconut milk—well stirred (original asks for 2/3 can, but where the heck are you going to use the other 1/3 later?)
- Create the spice mixture by combining all the ingredients from the grainy mustard down to the red wine vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Place oil in a large (I use a 12” pan) non-stick frying pan, and turn the burner onto high. Wait until oil is sufficiently hot (I splash a little water in to see if it sizzles), then toss in the sliced onions. Sautee until the onions are golden.
- Once the onions are golden, toss in the garlic for another 30 seconds, and then place in the spice paste. Fry for about a minute (yes, just the spice paste and onions)
- Add the meat. Stir and fry for 3 minutes.
- Add can of coconut milk (The original recipe adds water, but since we’re using the whole can, I don’t see the need).
- If sauce is not already to a boil, bring it to a boil, then lower heat to simmer and cover.
- Simmer for at least an hour before serving. The sauce needs be reduced and it’s up to you how “watery” you want your sauce. I like it so it’s almost nothing and loses its bright yellow color and into a nice brown.
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