Sunday, September 26, 2010

Fish Vindaloo

I am told vindaloo has got a bad name in the West. A friend who had lived in Britain once told me that he had found no similarities between my preparation of the item and what he had tasted in the restaurants in England! I hastened to add that my recipe had been taken from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking ! Maligned or not, the vindaloo paste is amenable to improving many dishes. Try for example the small southern Indian eggplants with it; completely transforms the dish! This is my version of Fish Vindaloo cooked with fresh whole sardines. The paste can be made ahead. Sauteing and less sweating that way; you can just make the gravy and fold in the fried fish.


2 teaspoon cumin seeds

2-3 red chillies

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon cardamom seeds

7 ½ cm cinnamon sticks

1 ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

5 Tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon jaggery

10 tbsp vegetable oil

175-200 g onions, peeled and sliced into fine half-rings

6 Tablespoon water

2 ½ cm cube ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 small heads garlic, about 6 cloves

Fish, 6 moderately sized whole fish, gutted and cleaned

1 Tablespoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 ½ -2 teaspoon salt


Marinate the fish in salt, turmeric and coriander for half an hour. In the meantime, the dry ingredients are ground in a dry grinder and mixed with the vinegar and jaggery to produce the first step of a vindaloo. Heat two tablespoon of oil and fry the sliced onion until they are flecked with brown. Drain and in a blender mix it with the vinegar paste. This makes the vindaloo paste.

Fry the fish pieces in 4 tablespoon of oil, separately (not the same oil as the onions). Set them aside to drain.

Make a paste of the ginger and garlic with a little water and fry them in the same oil that the onion was fried in. Once they are cooked, add the vindaloo paste. If it is too dry add a few tablespoons of water. Put back the fish in the paste and coat it, carefully. Cook covered for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Beef Pumpkin Stew

The goulash that I have had in India are not really goulash-like. Is it any wonder that I have got corrupted too? However, this was inspired by a goulash recipe. It can safely be called a stew. I adore stews. They are mostly one pot meals and I can add whatever is at hand to make something tasty as well as healthy. The pumpkin and jaggery added a sweet note, supplementing the paprika. The vinegar balanced that out. The starch from the plantain gave the stew thickness. Needless to say, it can be done with other red meat too. We ate it with a potato-starter based rye bread, ripped and tweaked from the New Complete Book of Breads.


250 gm beef, cubed
1 onion, minced
1 bayleaf
1 teaspoon paprika or lal Kashmiri mirch
1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon jaggery
1 green plantain, peeled and cut into thick pieces
400 gm pumpkin, cubed
2 Tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon vinegar
2 cups water

Heat oil in a pressure cooker. While the oil is heating, mince the onions. Saute onions until they pick up brown specks. Add the bayleaf along with it. Once the onions are browned add the paprika or its substitute as well as the salt. Cook for a minute. Add the beef cubes and brown them at low heat. Stir frequently. Once the colour of the meat changes, add the jiggery and coat everything. Simmer for 4-5 minutes to melt and caramelise the sweetener a little. Add the water, close lid and pressure cook the meat. In my Futura, it takes 12 minutes on high pressure to cook beef or goat.
Cool cooker before opening lid. Add plantain pieces and cover the lid. Add some water if the liquid is reduced. Cook 2 minutes at low heat. Cool completely again. Open cooker to add the pumpkin pieces. With the lid open this time, cook the pumpkin. Pressure pumpkin, makes it melt so this is best done while you watch it like a hawk! Should take about 5-7 minutes for the pumpkin to be done. Add the vinegar and more salt if necessary to finish the product. At this point it needs to be tasted to suit your family’s set of taste-buds!
The vinegar can be totally left out, but as I mentioned, this had been inspired by goulash, and I wanted a sour tang which wine usually adds.