Pork Cheek Vindaloo

I have borrowed heavily from Arun Kapil’s recipe, although the meat is treated differently. I have also used pork cheeks, since their rich, gelatinous texture lends itself perfectly both to the vinegar and the robust flavouring. Kapil suggests adding a bird’s-eye chilli, but I left it out. I am told that Goans prefer bread to rice, but I ignored that too.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) pork cheeks
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 6 cardamom pods, bashed and seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 200 ml (7 fl oz) cider vinegar
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled and grated
  • 125 g ( oz) piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 onions, peeled and grated
  • 1 tablespoon tomato purée
  • 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons golden caster sugar
  • 100 ml ( fl oz) vegetable oil, plus extra for cooking the onions
  • 3 onions, peeled and finely sliced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt

Method

Trim the pork cheeks, removing any really tough sinews, then cut each one into three or four smaller nuggets.

Prepare the marinade. Grind the peppercorns, coriander seeds, cardamom seeds, cumin, cloves and fennel seeds using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Place in a large bowl and add the vinegar, garlic, ginger, grated onions, tomato puree, chilli flakes, turmeric, cinnamon and sugar and mix to a paste. Add the pork, massaging the paste into the meat well. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 6 hours.

Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F, Gas Mark 1). Add 500ml (18 fl oz) water to the marinade, enabling you to lift out the pieces of meat. Dry these on kitchen paper, then season well with salt. In a heavy-based frying pan, fry the meat, in batches, in the vegetable oil, taking care to colour them on all sides.

In a heavy casserole dish, stew the finely sliced onions gently in the extra oil for about 15 minutes, or until soft, then add the fried meat before pouring in the marinade, stirring well and bringing to a simmer, making sure there is enough water to cover the meat.

Cover carefully and cook the stew in the oven for 3 hours, or until the meat is completely tender. The stew must not boil but cook at a very gentle temperature. Check the seasoning for salt and sharpen the flavour with lime juice. The vindaloo should be very piquant but not burningly hot. Sprinkle with the chopped fresh coriander leaves and serve with plenty of plain boiled basmati rice.

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