It’s spicy, tangy and red hot with a sweetness that evokes the ‘drooling’ effect after every bite. Soak in the curry, (perchance it was called a sauce in the past) in rice or rice cakes (sannas). It’s a great preparation to be laid out for celebrations, and the fat adds zest to its taste. What is it?
Armed with this teaser it was time to meet with the Gen next- the Agnel Institute of Food Craftsand Culinary sciences had planned a demo and a chance to interact with three students…Nalisha Dias, Lester Gonsalves and Rowen Menezes. Did they eat Goan food at home…Nalisha who plans to work in the kitchens of a hotel after college loves the Meat green curry, Lester who also opts for the kitchen relishes the pork Vindalho while Rowen who prefers the ‘food service’ department remembers his ‘kodi’ – fish curry. They are local youth where good home cooking is no stranger to the palate. So without much ado, the teaser was introduced to all, it was Lesters favorite preparation at home – the Vindalho.
The first question….what does one know about the history/origin of the Vindalho. Random statement like it’s a spicy, tangy preparation because of the vinegar, till Rowen hit the nail of the head. It was a preparation brought in by the Portuguese, says he, prepared by two main ingredients the ‘vin’ wine, and the ‘ail’ garlic. That was how it got its name- Vin-ail-ho.
The second question….Rowen you got it right, but the ingredients used today differs a lot from the original recipe. Adaptations states Nalisha, it’s the chilies grown in Portugal. Correction says Rowen…the chilies were brought in from Brazil and toddy vinegar was added to it.
So who changed the recipe…the local Goans says Nalisha. The bland preparation was spruced up with many spices. Aha! The youngsters of today do have an inkling of the preparations of their ancestors, but when Maya da Silva decided to demonstrate the recipe as shared to her by her grandmother, the three students watched her with keen focus. She had ground the masala in vinegar and had kept the pork cubes to marinate for over 2 hours. A quick glance at the ingredients that go into the masala will give weight age to the teaser…. spicy, tangy and red hot with sweetness. Red chilies, ginger, garlic, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorn, cumin, turmeric, tamarind….Yuum! What a transformation from bay leaf, garlic, olive oil and wine. During the cooking process Maya explains, the preparation tastes even better if you cook it on a very slow fire. You can then have it on the very same day. But it tastes even better after 3 days. In the past with no refrigeration, constant heating would thicken the gravy and also add to the taste. Moreover there was no oil used in the past, Maya smiles, the fat in the pork would be used in the cooking process.
Here was a preparation over hundreds of years, traditionally handed down, incorporating all the 4 S’s that Goan food is known for sour, sweet, salt and spice. Hopefully the Gen Next will preserve it for posterity.