Shikar Vindaloo–a (very) hot sweet and sour pork curry

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Last week our local newspaper ran an article about local restaurants hiring chefs for one night a month to cook a special dinner when the restaurant usually isn’t open for business. In this case the restaurant’s normal hours of business are breakfast and lunch.  It’s a modification of the “pop up” restaurant concept, where a chef rents cooking space.  A cool idea, especially for a town like ours, where more restaurants open and quickly die than sensible bills in Congress.  This month’s dinner was to be an ethnic-themed dinner: East India.  The article listed off nearly a dozen names of food, with brief descriptions, that would be served at the dinner.  As I do love a good curry, I spotted a couple of recipes that intrigued me, so I wrote down their names, did a quick Internet search, and found recipes.  One, shikar vindaloo, I made last weekend.  It is a very spicy sweet and sour pork curry from Goa.

Shikar vindaloo has about 7 spices in it, plus a half dozen red chiles–therein lies the heat kick.  And it is quite the kick in the seat of the pants.  I am so very thankful that I removed most of the seeds from the chiles before I made the dish!  It has a wonderful aroma, a warm flavor, and of course, the heat from the chiles.  But it is so delicious that I will definitely make this dish again.  Hubby loved it, though it made both our lips tingle from the heat.  We drank iced chai tea with it to help temper the heat, which helped tremendously and also added a nice Indian ambiance to the dinner.  Serve it over basmati rice for a truly Indian experience.  When I made my basmati rice this past weekend, I added about 1 cup frozen green peas and 1 bunch of chopped scallions to my rice cooker and let them cook with the rice–it was delicious!

In the photo above, I took the leftover curry and served it over mashed potatoes (pretty good!).  Also, just for something different (and to take a bite off the heat), tonight I added a bit of plain Greek yogurt to the curry–normally the curry is a dark, dark red from all the chiles, so this photo is definitely a bastardized version of the real deal.  It’s terrific both ways, so if you are into curry you must try this dish.  I also added sliced mushrooms to this dish, which is definitely not part of the original recipe, but if you wanted to make it vegetarian, you could substitute mushrooms for the pork.  I also think this curry would be good with chopped potatoes–next time I make it, I think I will add some.  I just didn’t have any in my pantry this past weekend.

Shikar Vindaloo

6 dried red chiles (I used New Mexico chiles, as that is what was available at my grocery store)

1 cup white wine vinegar (plain is fine, too)

1 teaspoon ground ginger (if you prefer fresh ginger, use about a 2 inch peeled piece)

1 bulb of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 teaspoon salt

2 pounds pork, cut into bite sized pieces

1 1/2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms (optional)

1 tablespoon oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

3 cups water

1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (optional)

Tear the chiles into large pieces, removing some of the seeds if you like.  Put the chiles in a medium bowl and pour the vinegar over them.  Microwave the chiles and vinegar for 20-30 seconds, then set them aside and allow the chiles to soak in the vinegar for about 15 minutes.

Place the pork pieces and mushrooms, if using, in a shallow dish.

Put the chiles and vinegar, garlic, all of the spices, and the salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Cover and process for about 30 seconds.  Scrape down the sides and process again until the mixture is mostly smooth.  There will probably be some small pieces of chile remaining, and that’s okay.  Pour the marinade over the pork, cover the dish, and refrigerate for about 3 hours.

When the pork is finished marinating, heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until they begin to soften.  Add the pork, with marinade, to the onions and cook for another 5 minutes.  Add 2 cups of the water, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until the pork is thoroughly cooked.  Add the brown sugar.  Add one cup of cold water and the Greek yogurt, if using—the cold water will help prevent the yogurt from curdling when added to the hot mixture.

Serve over basmati rice.  Also great with naan!

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