Don't be put off by this Goan curry's fearsome reputation: in truth, vindaloo, with its Portuguese influences (the name derives from vinha d'alhos – wine and garlic), is more sweet and sour than hot, and packed full of the kind of spices that scream Christmas wherever you are in the world. The tangy gravy works best with rich meats like duck or pork – substitute 800g diced pork shoulder if you prefer – and is even better made a day or so in advance, and then reheated, which is always handy at this time of year. Serve with rice or boiled potatoes, and a robust red for a festive feast with a difference.
- 1 duck, about 2.5kg, jointed (ask your butcher to do this, or see step 1) or 4 duck legs and 2 duck breasts
- 75ml cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp coconut or neutral oil
- 4 red onions finely sliced
- 10 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 65g ginger, cut into slim matchsticks
- 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
- 2 tbsp tamarind paste (optional)
- 1-3 whole small green chillies, according to taste, slit down their length
- 1 tbsp soft brown sugar
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
For the spice mix
- 1–2 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder or paprika
- 8 cardamom pods, seeds only
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 8 cloves
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp coriander seeds
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 5cm cinnamon stick
If you're using a whole duck, cut off the legs and wings (an online tutorial will help with this if you're not sure how to do so), take off the breasts and cut them into quarters and remove any remaining meat from the carcass. Strip off as much skin from the meat as possible but don't worry too much, as it will give the dish richness and you can take it off before serving.
Grind together all the ingredients for the spice mix in an electric grinder or using a pestle and mortar, then stir in the vinegar to make a fairly smooth paste. Rub into the pieces of duck and leave to marinate at coolroom temperature for 3 hours.
Finely slice the onions, then fry them gently in the oil on a medium-low heat in a large, lidded pan until soft and beginning to brown. Stir in the garlic and ginger, fry for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes, tamarind paste if using, chillies, sugar, salt and mustard seeds.
Turn up the heat and add the duck, marinade and 100ml water. Bring back to a simmer, cover and cook gently for an hour, stirring occasionally, and topping up with more water if necessary.
Partially remove the lid and cook for about another 30-45 minutes until the duck is very tender and the sauce has thickened.
At this point you can serve immediately, but I like to take the meat off the legs and cut the breast into smaller pieces before reheating – there's little meat on the wings, so I generally leave them in for people to eat with their hands!
Why not head back to the country of the dish's origins and try with the big bold and richly spicy flavours of a Douro red?
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