I think I've mentioned before (several hundred times) that I'm a fan of the humble spud. So, this evening we thought we'd have a go at making a potato vindaloo. Vindaloo was created in the Portuguese-Indian colony of Goa, and the name was derived from the Portugese carne de vinha d' alhos (meat with wine, vinho, and garlic, alhos). The wine is generally taken to mean wine vinegar (the recipe below uses cider vinegar).
We started off with Yotam Ottolenghi's recipe from Plenty, but indulged in a fair bit of tweaking along the way. Far be it from me to question Mr Ottolenghi's culinary whotsits, but it seemed strange that he didn't include any garlic at all.
For the waxy potatoes we used Charlottes, but Maris Piper would work well too. We couldn't get hold of fresh curry leaves at short notice, so used dried ones instead.
This is one of those recipes that is a joy to cook, with its vibrant colours and gorgeous aroma. It's also a very straightforward dish to make, as long as you don't burn the spices during the first stage. If you do, chuck them out and start again. This is a hot dish, but not so hot that it melts your eyeballs. It's one that requires the drinking of two glasses of cold water, rather than three jugs of the stuff. Served with rice this recipe will feed four.
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
8 cardamom pods
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp vegetable oil (ground nut or a similarly flavourless oil)
2 medium-sized onions, chopped
½ tsp fenugreek seeds
½ tsp brown mustard seeds
25 curry leaves
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp grated ginger
1 red chilli, finely chopped
14 oz (450 g) tin chopped tomatoes
1½ fl oz (50 ml) cider vinegar
14 fl oz (400 ml) water
½ tbsp caster sugar
14 oz (400 g) (after peeling) waxy potato, cut into 2.5cm dice
2 small red peppers, deseeded and cut into 2cm dice
14 oz (400 g) (after peeling) sweet potato, cut into 2.5cm dice
fresh coriander leaves, to garnish
Begin by dry-roasting the cardamon pods and cumin and coriander seeds in a small pan until they start to pop. Be careful not to burn them. Once they do pop, move them into a mortar, add the cloves and use a pestle to grind them to a fine powder (see photo below), discarding the cardamon pods once the seeds have been released. Add the turmeric, cinnamon and paprika and put to one side (see photo below).
Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan. Add the fenugreek and mustard seeds and wait for them to begin popping, then throw in the onions and sauté for around 8 minutes, by which time the onions should have browned a little. Add the curry leaves, red chilli, garlic and ginger, then throw in the spices from the mortar and continue cooking for a further 3 minutes (see photos below). Take a moment to inhale... beautiful!
Add the chopped tomatoes, vinegar, water, sugar and a pinch of salt (see photo below). Bring to the boil, cover, then simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every now and then.
Pop the potatoes and red peppers into the pot and continue cooking for a further 20 minutes, stirring occasionally (see photo below).
Finally, add the sweet potatoes, make sure that the vegetables are all immersed in the liquid (adding more water if necessary), cover, then simmer for 40 more minutes, stirring now and then, by which time the potatoes should be nice and tender.
Remove the lid and continue cooking for 10 more minutes, to allow the sauce to thicken (see photo above), then served with basmati rice, garnished with the coriander leaves (and perhaps a nice blob of thick natural yoghurt). Delicious!
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