Goan Rich Pork Stew with Vegetables

Baffat

Along with vindaloo, baffat comes from the Portuguese-influenced cooking of Goa. Baffat is a dry, hot-sour dish of meat and vegetables thickened with peanuts and roasted chickpeas and sometimes coconut. This is my mother’s version with no changes, except that the meat is treated in a way that renders out as much fat as possible before cooking.

Roasted chickpeas are sold at most health food stores. At Indian groceries, ask for husked channa or gram.

Serve with Chapatis, or whole wheat tortillas, or crusty bread in the Parsi manner. We always serve greens, too.

Ingredients

Masala

  • 5 to 6 dried red chiles
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 (2-inch-long) stick cinnamon or cassia
  • 4 whole cloves
  • ¼ cup unsalted raw peanuts
  • ¼ cup roasted chickpeas (husked channa)
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen grated coconut; or ½ cup canned, frozen, or reconstituted dried coconut milk (if using a food processor)
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) cane, coconut, rice, or cider vinegar

Meat

  • 2 pounds pork or lamb shoulder; or boneless chicken thigh meat; or 6 to 8 duck legs
  • 2 teaspoons Ginger-Garlic Paste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) cane, coconut, rice, or cider vinegar
  • 1 to 2 tomatoes, chopped or grated
  • 1 teaspoon (about) salt
  • 12 small boiling onions, peeled and trimmed
  • 4 to 6 medium potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 2 to 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 to 3 regular turnips, peeled and cut; or 12 tiny ones

Method

  • For the masala: If you have a wet-dry grinder, grind together the chiles, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, peanuts, chickpeas, and coconut and a splash of vinegar. Otherwise, pulverize the dry spices in a coffee mill reserved for grinding spices and then process them in a food processor with the peanuts, chickpeas, coconut milk, and enough vinegar to create a fine, thick paste.
  • For the meat: Cut the meat into generous chunks, 2 to 3 inches across. They seldom turn out perfectly even. Carefully trim off as much fat as possible. Heat a dry cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meat and sear. Transfer the meat to a bowl, mix in the ginger-garlic paste, and let it sit for half an hour.
  • In a sturdy stewing pan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the masala and cook 3 to 5 minutes, adding small amounts of vinegar to keep things from sticking and burning. Add the meat and toss to combine thoroughly with the contents of the pan. Add the tomatoes next. Pour in enough water to come to just above the top of the meat. Add the salt and stir well. Bring to a boil; lower the heat, cover the pan, and simmer gently until the meat is tender, between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on the type used. (If you’re using boneless chicken, it will be tender after about 30 minutes, before the baffat is considered fully cooked. Remove the chicken and return it to the pan when the gravy is thick and the oil floats to the top, about 30 minutes more.)
  • Add the onions, potatoes, carrots, and turnips to the stew during the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking. Let them get thoroughly tender but not too soft. (The vegetables could also be served as a side dish, steamed or boiled.)
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