Most of the times when Madhushree and I meet people and talk about ourselves, it is she who takes the more air time than me (expect strong objections on this from friends though). Madhushree has been lucky enough to grow up and spend a considerable amount of time in two of the most beautiful places in India – Port blair and Goa and she has plenty of stories to share from these places. Although today we are not going to talk about any story.
Both of us were in doubt over whether we should post the Chicken Vindaloo recipe or not. It was one of those days when Madhushree wanted to make vindaloo and the freezer had chicken. Madhushree strongly felt that chicken vindaloo should not be in a post. Chicken vindaloo is a very close borderline case of Oxymorons in food and many believe that Veg Biryani is the greatest. Our Good friend Kanishka da (who is not only a great cook but also has immense knowledge of food) cooked this one day and his social media posts started coming up. I sought his permission to use his feelings and experience while cooking this and this is here. He offered the all necessary guts and encouragement to post this dish.
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A vindaloo like dish. No spices were tempered. Caramelised onion had ginger and garlic paste for company. Chicken was bathed in a heady mix of tamarind paste, malt vinegar, black pepper powder, garam masala, raw sugar, cumin powder, coriander powder and red chilli powder. Slow cooked. I could be wrong but I have a feeling the Portuguese never tempered the spices. I also did not. I also have a feeling the spices were India's contribution to a Portuguese dish that lived and died with vinegar (vin) and garlic (alho). Together, over the passage of time the pronunciation became vindaloo. And no, aloo has no place in this. Unless you want it there. In which case it should be ok. I call it vindaloo like as I have used the wrong meat. Chicken. Not sure about the spices too. But as always, for a dish to have travelled such a distance from Portugal to India and having survived the test of time, I do not know what will be authentic. The right meat may be. #That
It is said that the Vindaloo is actually pronounced as carne de vinha d’alhos (which means meat marinated in wine-vinegar and garlic). Vindaloo is a Portuguese dish and shouldn’t we give the credit of passage and popularity of the dish to Vasco Da Gama himself who in the year 1498, arrived in the port of Calicut. Three ports were captured during the rule of Afonso de Albuquerque seized Goa as one of the centres of Spice trade. Pork Vindaloo is no doubt a very common dish in Goa and perhaps one of the dishes which represent the state just like Rosogolla or machher jhol does for Bengal?
The use of Malt vinegar generally, coconut vinegar or Toddy in Goa is a must. Never ever use White Vinegar and also the use of Chile peppers is another important legacy brought by the Portuguese, makes this dish a killer one. This one, which was made at home, the first feeling which comes to my mind is that this is tangy and has a kick of its own. Not many people will have Pork, so chicken vindaloo is a very nice option although traditionalists would always go for Pork Vindaloo. When we substitute the main protagonist of a dish, we transform the dish but on the other hand, food is associated with beliefs, memories
Where can you get a Vindaloo in Kolkata?
In Kolkata, in the recent times, I haven’t seen any restaurant that has been able to master this to an extent that this becomes a signature dish. As for that matter, Goan cuisine is still not popular here that a restaurant can be dedicated for to that cuisine. We would always love to believe that Vindaloo is from Goa and often forget the Portuguese ancestry but let it be. Bibi Sarkar of Tajaas used to make a great Pork Vindaloo which I have been lucky enough to taste. I haven’t tasted the Bohemian’s one neither any other places which makes Pork Vindaloo. I am being told that Soul cafe also makes Pork Vindaloo and will surely try them out as I will from Calcutta Stories the restaurant owned by Prithvish Chakraborty who offers some lost colonial food of Kolkata. But any particular reason why Goan cuisine hasn’t been that popular in Kolkata?
This post also demands for a Pork Vindaloo as a follow up. For this time, let us get indulged in some overdose of Malt Vinegar and chicken Vindaloo.
P.S. After the post was released in Social Media, I was lucky enough to get valuable input from Ms. Bridgette White Kumar ( one of the pioneer and custodian of Anglo Indian cuisine in India today) and this is what she had to say –
“Vindaloo is a legacy of the Portuguese and is not only made by the Goans but by different communities in India. The Portuguese were pan India and hence Vindaloo is cooked where ever they had a presence. Each community has their own special way of making Vindaloo. The basic ingredients of garlic, vinegar and cumin remain the same. While it was originally made with Pork, We Anglo-Indians make Vindaloo with Chicken, Fish, Beef, Mutton, Veal and also vegetables like Brinjal. Anglos in the South add some tomatoes too as we like a little gravy in our Vindaloo”
Goan Chicken Vindaloo
For the marinade
- 1 kg Chicken
- 1/2 cup malt vinegar
- 1 tbsp Ginger Paste
- 1 1/2 tbsp Garlic Paste
- 2 nos chicken cubes
- 1 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 2 tsp Red Chili Powder
- Salt To Taste
For Roasting and Grinding
- 10 nos peppercorns
- 2 nos dried kashmiri red chilies soaked in a little bit of warm water
- 2 nos green cardamom
- 4 nos cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 no bay leaf
- 3 tbsp any white oil
- 2 Nos Large Onions Finely sliced
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste
- 1 tsp Sugar
- Salt To Taste
- Marinade the chicken with the ingredients listed under that section. and keep for a minimum of 30 minutes or more.
- While the chicken in marinading, dry roast and grind the ingredients listed under that section with a little bit of water and make a wet paste.
- In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil and lightly sweat the onions.
- When the onions are golden brown, add the chicken and the wet paste.
- Add a tbsp of tamarind paste and the sugar. The sugar is just my addition to balance the tanginess from the vinegar as well as the tamarind.
- Now stir and mix everything properly until all the spices start releasing oil. COntrol the temperature as you do this.
- Adjust the seasoning and then transfer everything to a pressure cooker.
- Add half a cup of water to the pan and swirl it around to gather all the spices which are stuck to the bottom and then transfer to the pressure cooker.
- Add 2 cups of water and close teh lid of the pressure cooker. Cook for 15 -20 minutes. When the steam releases, open the lid and check the seasoning.
- Serve it with some steamed rice.