Excerpted from Curry: A Tale of Cook's and Conquerors. Copyright © 2006 by Lizzie Collingham. Published by Oxford University Press, 2006.
Serves 3 to 4
This Goan dish combines the Portuguese liking for pork marinated, and then stewed, in vinegar with a south Indian spice mixture and lots of chilies. Many recipes for vindaloo call for as many as 20 fresh red chilies. The spiciness of vindaloo is a matter of taste. This recipe is hot but not eye-wateringly so. If you like very hot food, feel free to add more of either the dried or the fresh red chilies, or more black peppercorns.
If you deseed the chilies first they will be less piquant; blending the red chilies with a little water in a mixer before adding them to the paste will increase their potency.
Vindaloo is traditionally made with pork but the British liked it best with duck and so do I. If you can obtain palm vinegar or jaggerty, these will add a particularly Goan flavor to the dish.
2-4 breasts of duck (or 1 1/2 pounds stewing pork), cubed
In a cast-iron pan dry-roast the dried chilies, cumin seeds, poppy seeds, cloves, peppercorns, and turmeric for 1-2 minutes. Grind these spices into a fine powder in a coffee grinder. Put in a bowl with the fresh red chilies, wine vinegar, tamarind, ginger, and garlic and mix to a paste.
Add the meat and mix again. Make sure all the pieces of duck (or pork) are coated in the marinade. Cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
The next day, heat the oil in a large pan and when hot add the mustard seeds and cinnamon stick.
When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the onions and fry over medium heat until they begin to brown. Add the meat and its marinade and sauté until all the pieces are browned. Add the water, and a pinch of salt to taste. Cover, turn down the heat, and simmer for about 10 minutes (if duck, longer if pork).
Remove the lid, keep the heat very low and simmer gently until the meat is tender (about half an hour with duck, an hour with pork) and the sauce is thick (you may need to add a little more water to prevent burning).
When the meat is tender add the jaggety or sugar, the crumbled curry leaves, and simmer for another 3 minutes. Then serve.
Harold McGee, the author of Keys to Good Cooking, is an expert on the chemistry behind food and cooking. McGee recently made his first trip to China, where he learned more about rice wine.