The vindaloo curry began its life in Goa and is based on the Portuguese dish Carne de Vinha D’alhos. The actual translation for Vindaloo is Wine with Garlic, but the wine in the Portuguese version has long since been substituted for vinegar. This curry is revered in Britain as a hot dish attempted only by the very brave. It is a hot dish, for sure (there are ten dried chillies in the spice paste), but I believe there is more to the dish than that.
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There’s a lot of flavour behind all that heat. The vinegar, the garlic and the more gentle spices come through in the dish as well. You can control the heat if you are making your own by simply lessening the amount of chillies being used. The recipe calls for 10, so try halving that and see if it’s more to your taste. I’ve also deseeded the fresh chillies in the dish, as it certainly doesn’t need more heat.
There is a bit of time taken in marinating the ingredients in this recipe, which is an essential step in preparing a vindaloo. Traditionally it is meat, but we are using aubergines and mushrooms. The vegetables are first soaked in vinegar and salt for at least 2 hours (my preference for this is sherry vinegar, but red wine vinegar is a great substitute) before the spice paste is added for an additional hour of marinating. These steps can be done the night before if you know you are going to be pressed for time on the day you want to make the dish.
You will need a blender capable of grinding spices to make this. I have a small attachment for my blender, which is perfect.
You can, of course, swap these vegetables for any that you might prefer. Squashes would work well, with an addition of green beans. I use frozen whole green beans a lot in cooking and would recommend that you keep some in your freezer.
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Aubergine and Mushroom Vindaloo
For the Vinegar Marinade:
- 3 aubergines cut into large dices
- 3-4 large portobello mushrooms torn into large chunks
- 1 tsp salt
- 50 ml sherry vinegar
For the Spice Paste:
- 10 whole dried red chillies
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 cinnamon stick broken up
- 10 whole cloves
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 2 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 6-7 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 inch piece of ginger peeled
- 4 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 4 tbsp water
For the Curry:
- 3 tbsp coconut oil
- 2-3 red onions sliced
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 6 thin green chillies deseeded and chopped
- 4 regular tomatoes cut into wedges
- 1 ½ tbsp sugar
- 400 ml water
- A large handful of coriander chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 3 regular tomatoes cut into wedges
- 4-5 thin green chillies halved
- A handful of fresh coriander chopped
- First you want to salt the aubergines to remove the bitterness. Put the diced aubergines on a large tray or tea towel and sprinkle with salt. Leave for about 15 minutes, during which time moisture will be drawn from them. Wipe them dry before use.
- Place the aubergines and the mushrooms in a large mixing bowl and add the salt and the vinegar. Mix well and leave for 2 hours to marinate. Stir occasionally during this time to make sure all the vegetables are covered.
- Meanwhile, you can blend your spices. Put the chillies, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, cloves and black peppercorns into a spice blender or grinder and grind to a fine powder. Now add the rest of the spice paste ingredients and blend until fully pureed. Set aside.
- After the 2 hours is up, put half of the spice paste in with the aubergines, mix thoroughly and marinate for another hour.
- Once all of the marinating time is up, you can start making the curry. Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan or wok. Add the sliced onions and cook for 5 minutes, then put in the garlic and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
- Put in the chopped chillies and the tomato wedges and cook for a few more minutes, until the tomatoes start to soften. Now add the leftover half of the spice paste, along with the sugar. Cook for a few minutes to fry the spices.
- Tip the marinated vegetables into the pan, along with all the marinade, stir through and cook on a medium-high heat for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables have cooked and the moisture has evaporated. Pour in the water and the coriander, cover with a lid and gently simmer for about 30 minutes, until you have a thick curry sauce.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- To make the topping, heat the vegetable oil and fry the cumin seeds for about 30 seconds. Add the garlic, chillies and tomatoes and fry for about 4 minutes on a medium-hight heat. You want the vegetables slightly browned and only a little soft, but remaining whole.
- Serve the curry with rice and top with the dried chilli and tomato mix, then sprinkle on the coriander.
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