A Nipping and an Eager Vindaloo

My wife and daughter were going to see King Richard III with Kevin Spacey and the Old Vic team at a Sydney theatre this afternoon (they loved it), so I minded my grandson and cooked a vindaloo. I remembered that I hadn’t cooked a vindaloo for maybe twenty years. Recipe: I forewent (is that the past tense of ‘to forego’, as in ‘foregone conclusion’?) Charmaine Solomon’s excellent recipe, and used one from Doris Ady’s recipe book. She used to run one of the first curry restaurants in Sydney, in Mosman, back in the Middle Ages. We had a copy of her brief and very useful wire-bound recipe book in the 1970s, and used it so much it fell apart. I found a second-hand copy in the 1990s and pounced on it. We regularly use the tomato, pea and potato recipe called “Potato curry with green peas” (the only spice is turmeric!) and the eggplant (aubergine) and coconut milk, slightly sweet but delicious. Would you like the recipes? Write a Comment and ask me!

Sultan's Kitchen cookbook from the 1960s
Sultan's Kitchen cookbook from the 1960s

The best meat to use for a curry is one that stands up to long cooking, so the flavours can develop fully. That means either goat, or cheap cuts of beef: blade or chuck steak. The other thing about old-fashioned vindaloos is that (unlike much contemporary Asian-influenced food) it is heavy, full flavoured and sour. Modern Indian cooking, especially British Indian cooking, is generally Northern Indian, and rich with sweet creamy sauces. Vindaloo is from the hot South, has lots of different spices but no tomato, a little vinegar, and then a little sugar to cancel the vinegar’s sourness. When I realised the dish needed some more liquid, I used a cup or two or white wine instead of water, to develop the sour theme. I added some potatoes and some carrot. Three hours in a low oven produced a delicious dish; enough for two meals.

Although a south Indian dish found in Goa, the name Vindaloo actually comes from a Portuguese dish of meat with garlic and wine called “Carne de Vinha d’ Alhos,” that evolved into the famous spicy curry of Goa we know today.


Vinegar always reminds me of Hamlet:

Hamlet, Act One Scene One: [Elsinore. The platform before the Castle.]
(I imagine Hamlet shivering, and clutching his robe around him):
Hamlet: The air bites shrewdly; it is very cold!
Horatio: It is a nipping and an eager air.

Eager once meant acidic, biting. Wine + Eager = Vinegar.