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PRABEEN SINGH
HIGH TABLE

Vindaloo manages to unite the culinary history of 3 continents

e are looking for an idea to embrace the sizeable Indian community here, and found no better way to bind Australians to India than through the world famous Indian flavours" — Mia Northrop, quoted in Business Times

The genesis of the campaign 'Violence against Vindaloo' spearheaded by Ms. Northrop was concern for Melbourne's reputation, as Northrop feared it would be dubbed racist after a series of horrific attacks on young, unsuspecting, non- threatening Indians. Since Melbournians are said to be great foodies the strategy was to let the Australians taste buds do the talking! Since co-existence was the focus of the campaign, it was necessary to highlight the co-relation between the Indian community and the very popular curries of India. The campaign hoped that the highly-travelled and popular Vindaloo would provoke deep introspection in the beastly minds and hearts of those Australians who had a violent stream of hatred coursing through them, bringing them to a "curry of human kindness"! What would have happened sans the Vindaloo? A question that may be best left unanswered.

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Goan dishes since the fifteenth century thus unite the culinary history of three continents - Europe, Asia and the Americas

Introduced to Goa around 1510 by Portuguese sailors who travelled with their garlic-flavoured vinegar stew, Vinh d'alho literally means wine and garlic or meat cooked in wine and garlic. Local garbled pronunciation turned it into Vindaloo. However it was not just the change in name but the addition and substitution of ingredients depending on what was locally available that lent the richness to the taste. Not only did the Portuguese persuade the native Christian converts to eat pork, they also taught them how to cook it. The natives of Goa did not know of vinegar as a souring agent. They used a combination of tamarind and black pepper, causing great constraints in the Portuguese kitchen. Till versatile Franciscan priests solved the problem by distilling vinegar from coconut toddy, the local alcohol fermented from the sap of the palm tree. This combined with tamarind and loads of garlic satisfied the Portuguese cooks. To this basic sauce they added garam masala of black pepper, cinnamon and cloves – it was the lure of these spices that brought Vasco da Gama in 1498 to the Malabar Coast. The key ingredient however, which zings the vindaloo and us, was the chilli introduced by the conquerors via South America to India. The result of this culinary/cultural interchange is the fusion culinary skills displayed by some of our top chefs today. It must be said, however, that the Portuguese were adept in fusion food much before their conquest of Goa, as their cuisine had integrated the Arab influence on Iberian style of cooking with dried fruits and the more recent discovery of foodstuffs from the New World such as chili. Goan dishes since the fifteenth century thus unite the culinary history of three continents - Europe, Asia and the Americas.

The British invaded Goa in 1797 [although Goa remained a colony of Portugal till 1961] and were introduced to the delights of Goan food. Relieved that the Catholic cooks of Goa had no irritating caste or religious biases against cooking beef and pork, they took their Goan cooks back with them. Englishmen still try to prove their machismo by ordering the fieriest of vindaloos after a few lagers. The British football fans for the 1998 world cup adopted vindaloo in their chant, inspired by the hit song Vin-da-loo by Fat Les. Alec James, one of the singers, declared it a "post modern tribute to multiculturalism."

We eat vindaloo, mount racial harmony campaigns inspired by the vindaloo, chant vin-da-loo to support our favourite football team, use it to demonstrate our virility, describe an individual's fiery personality as 'all Vindaloo' and savour it as a great gastronomical delight!

Vindalho de Porco

Ingredients:

1kg pork belly cut into 2" cubes

1medium red onion chopped fine

1 ½ tsp salt

½ tsp brown sugar1tsp, cumin powder

1tsp turmeric powder

1-2 tsp fiery chilli powder

3-4 tbls. palm vinegar or red wine vinegar

8 cloves

10 peppercorns

3" piece cinnamon

Finely ground :1pod garlic

1-1/2 piece ginger

If you are lucky:

2 tbls. fresh feni- palm toddy

Method:

Wash and pat dry the meat

Mix: Ginger, garlic, onion, sugar, and spice powder, chilli powder with 4 tbls. vinegar

Marinate the meat for 12 hours in this

Transfer the marinated meat in a heavy bottomed pan, cover and set on low heat till all the juices get absorbed stirring in intervals. Add additional vinegar ir be inventive red wine as required-basically the pork should be tender yet firm

When the meat is ½ cooked add whole spices cook till done.

Approximately ¾ of an hour.

There will be sufficient fat from the pork to cook all the ingredients.

Keep stirring at intervals

Serve hot with rustic bread or odde 

 
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