Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Parts and Labor of a Vegetarian Vindaloo

Recently I cornered some local hooligans and posed this question: what do Goan Curry, soccer, and the UK Singles Chart have in common? I was met with a number of blank stares before one of them answered "Nothing." I told them to dig deeper. After a few moments of uneasy silence the smallest hooligan looked up and told me "Vindaloo." I congratulated him with an Ole and a fist pump and went on my way.

First and foremost Vindaloo is a Goan Curry (Goa is an Indian State along the Arabian Sea) made with pork or lamb, red wine, chili pepper, and stewed garlic. It is derived from a Portuguese dish called "Carne de Vinha d'Alhos." It became very popular with English football (soccer) fans who adopted it as part of their post match celebrations. Vindaloo forever became a part of pop culture when Fat Les (a band that includes Alex James from Blur) penned a song about it in 1998. The song was unofficially adopted as the anthem for the 1998 English World Cup team and made it as high as number two on the UK Singles Chart.

So what does Vindaloo have to do with me? I ate a vegetarian version during my stay in Chicago. It was concocted by my pals Jen V. and her husband Dave (who aren't vegetarian but were nice enough to create a meatless Indian dinner in honor of our visit). Aside from the Tofu Vindaloo, all other recipes came from the book Madhur Jaffrey's Quick and Easy Indian Cooking.

Tofu Vindaloo
(printable version)
-1-1/2 tablespoons grainy mustard
-1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
-1-1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
-1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
-4 tablespoons vegetable oil
-1 small onion cut into half rings
-6 large cloves garlic, crushed
-1 block of tofu
-2/3 cup coconut milk
-1 cup of water

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil in a nonstick frying pan. Cut tofu into one inch rectangles and add to the oil. Cook until it starts to brown. Remove from heat and place on a paper towel lined plate. Pat off the excess oil. Set aside.

2. In a cup combine the mustard, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, salt, and vinegar. Mix well.

3. Put the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in the frying pan and heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion. Fry until medium brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the spice paste and tofu cooking for about 3 minutes. Add coconut milk and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for an hour. Serve over rice.

Also part of the meal were naan, onion fritters with fresh green chutney, and cauliflower seasoned with garlic, ginger, and green chilies.

A picture of the cauliflower dish:

And the Onion Fritters.

After the four of us completely gorged on Indian food we listened to Parts & Labor an Indie Rock band from Brooklyn. I assure you nothing washes spicy cuisine down better.

Parts & Labor-Nowheres Nigh

Parts & Labor-Prefix Free