Saturday, 30 November 2013

Goat Vindaloo

I missed out on goat for most of my life, fearful that it would taste , I don’t know, too goatie.  Once a certain Goan relative insisted I stop being such a wimp, oh how quickly I became frantic for this dish.  I’ve always liked lamb, but I have to say that now I much prefer goat. 

There was a halal butcher shop in my neighborhood, but it closed before I finally got around to going in to buy their goat, which apparently was excellent.  Alas, I relied on the frozen goat stewing meat at the Real Canadian You Know What.   The pieces are a good size, although it’s possible to occasionally get more bone than goat, but it’s still worth it.  If you can find better goat, you are lucky indeed.

This recipe involves a twenty four hour marinating time, and at least three hours of cooking time, not to mention the prep involved.  Mark and Jeanne from Idaho were driving up from their homeland, on American Thanksgiving, no less, so a feast was required. 

This much goat!

1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon fenugreek
3 dried Kashmiri chilies
6 cloves
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

The next stage of the masala goes into the blender, so coarse chopping is all that’s required:

4 Jalapeno peppers or Thai chilies  (certain relative uses about ten Thai chilies, but oh my that’s hot!)
6 fresh garlic cloves
2 inches ginger
½ cup fresh yogurt 

bag of frozen stewing goat pieces (Yikes, forgot to take note of size!  See picture!)

I recommend many more than these!
2 tablespoons mustard oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon mustard seed
2 Indian bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 large red onion, dice
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
3 tablespoons coconut vinegar
3 cups water (possibly more)
2 sweet red peppers, diced  

Dry roast the above whole spices, reserving the turmeric into the spice grinder.  Use high heat, and shake the pan a couple of times, carefully watching to see just little incense like wafts of smoke and inhaling that gorgeous fragrance.  Immediately brush into the spice grinder, and set aside.
Mix well and marinate at least 20 hours.

Put the chilies, garlic, ginger and yogurt into the blender and buzz till smooth.  Grind the cooled spices to a fine powder.  I have a marinating bowl that comes with a pump to remove the air.  You can use any kind of big glass or ceramic bowl that can be tightly covered.  Put in the meat, ground spices and smooth masala paste.  Combine well, cover tightly, and refrigerate for twenty hours.. Set on counter to temper for the next few hours.  The garlic and chillies will frighten any bacteria, but if your place is very warm, maybe let it temper for only an hour or so.  I don’t recommend adding the vinegar at this point, because it would over soften the meat, but it is considered a safe practice for keeping the meat.

Get out a large stewing pot, and add the mustard oil.  Put on high heat, adding the cumin, mustard, bay leaves and cinnamon.  Fry till the cumin turns a bit golden, just a couple of minutes, then add the onion, stirring.  Turn heat down to medium and cook till the onion is transparent and caramelized at the edges.  At this point, push the onion into a high pile, making lots of room in the pot.  Pick up the goat pieces one at a time, placing each carefully onto the bottom of the pan.  You won’t have room for it all. (I hope you like to use your fingers.) 

Give lots of time for each piece to caramelize well,  and flip over to get the next side.  Once each piece is done on at least two sides, push into a heap and continue with the rest of the meat.  The absolute secret to this dish is careful browning of the meat. 
German wines go best...

When it’s all done, swish out the marinating bowl with the water, and add to the pot, along with the vinegar and salt.  Turn the heat back up to high, and cover.  When it reaches boiling, lower to simmer, and let cook for a full two hours.  Uncover, and let continue to cook and reduce.  If the gravy gets too dry, add more water.  About thirty minutes before serving, add the sweet red pepper.

This goat vindaloo is rich, spicy, savory and powerful.  I like to think the very word, vindaloo, is a good example of onomatopoeia, because I picture people frantically running around a room, after a single bite of the stuff.  Fanning their mouths, aspirating the word, vindaloooooo, to cool down the flames.  When ten chilies are used, this is certainly the case.  Four chilies isn’t terribly  hot, but I was being kind to some delicate stomachs.  You can go as hot as you like. 

Technically though, I think ‘vindaloo’ has to do with the vinegar the Catholic priests brought with them from Portugal, convinced the Indians needed to learn about bacteria killing regimes.  I like the tangy taste it imparts.  Some people use coconut feni (a powerful alcohol) instead, but that’s not so available here on the Canadian prairies…

I served this gorgeous spicy stew with fancy basmati rice, chappatties, caramelized onion raita, sag paneer and channa masala, not to mention a few glasses of Gewertztraminer. 

Oh, we really should have company more often.  This was quite the Thanksgiving feast!

Goat Vindaloooooooooooo!

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