Chemists and cooks have more than a little in common. We both mix ingredients, apply a bit of heat or pressure, and hope for the proper outcome. Being both a chemist and a cook, I let my inquisitive nature drive my passion for food. Luckily, I have a bunch of friends willing to be my “guinea pigs” when it comes to new recipes.

An Indian Dinner Party

Every so often, we host an Indian dinner party. I have a few standby recipes that I make such as chicken tikka marsala, vegetarian korma, and Indian rice pudding, but I wanted to add a new recipe to the mix. I chose a vindaloo.

Vindaloo is a Portuguese inspired Indian dish from the region of Goa. The name vindaloo is a variation on the Portuguese carne de vinha dalhos which literally translated means “meat in garlic wine marinade”. The Portuguese prepared the dish with the preserved raw ingredients of pork packed in garlic and wine but it was “Indianized” by adding vinegar and hot chilies.

Vindaloo tends to be a spicy dish and is a staple on Indian restaurant menus. It is both flavorful and sometimes “warm”, but typically not the hottest dish available. As with most cooking, you can adjust the spice heat to suit your own tastes. One of the nice things about this dish is that it takes about an hour of simmering after the initial preparation. This allows you time to get the rest of the meal together, or just to sit and visit with your guests.

Pork or Lamb

The recipe that I found was written for pork (traditional ingredient) or lamb. I chose lamb as I love the flavor and we don’t have it very often. I also knew that lamb would go over well with my guests, many of whom love Indian food. Lamb was the right choice. The meal was a success with most of my guests having second helpings of all the dishes.

One of my guests even posted a photo of his plate on Facebook. I was flattered that he thought enough of the meal to share it. Many comments followed and I may have to host another Indian dinner party in the not too distant future. Live, Laugh, Love and Eat Well.

Pork or Lamb Vindaloo

Courtesy of Epicurious

Serves 3 to 4

This recipe can be prepared in either a pressure cooker in about 30 minutes or a skillet in about an hour.

  • 1 ½ TBSP grainy mustard (I used a dark stone ground variety)
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ to 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (I used ¾ tsp and it was slightly spicy warm)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 TBSP vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion (about 4oz), peeled and cut into fine ½ rings
  • 6 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed into a pulp
  • 1 ¼ LB boned shoulder of pork or leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk, well stirred
  • Water (amount varies on preparation method)

Combine the mustard, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, salt, and vinegar in a cup and mix well.

Put the oil in a large, nonstick frying pan and set over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in the onion. Stir and fry until it is medium brown. Put in the garlic. Stir and fry for 30 seconds. Put in the spice paste prepared earlier and stir fry for about 1 minute. Put in the meat and stir fry for about 3 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and water (2/3 cup in pressure cooker, or 1 cup in pan). Cover and either bring to pressure or bring to a boil in pan. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes in pressure cooker or 60 to 70 minutes in frying pan.

Serve with rice or flat bread.

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