Indian cuisine is not my specialty. However, I really like many Indian dishes I have tried. An interesting dish at many Indian restaurants is the fairly spicy vindaloo. In most cases, it is made with chicken. Thus, I was surprised to find that vindaloo is originally a pork dish. With some research, I have developed my own Instant Pot Pork Vindaloo recipe.
Based on my research “authentic” vindaloo uses pork. However, I have actually never had pork vindaloo at a restaurant. This is not for lack of trying. I have not been able to find a restaurant that makes vindaloo with pork. Instead, they use either chicken or lamb.
I think this indicates that there is probably no such thing as “authentic” vindaloo. Instead, it is a dish like a chili, where your personal experience shapes your expectations. That being said, it seems pork vindaloo is actually a pretty famous dish that is surprisingly hard to find in the U.S. So, having never actually tried it I set out to create my own version.
Making a version of a dish you have never actually tried can be daunting. However, with some research and planning, I think I have come at least close to the spirit. More importantly, it tastes great and with the Instant Pot, it is easy to make.
Vindaloo is actually a Portuguese dish. It became associated with India’s Goa state when Goa became a Portuguese colony in the 17th century. According to this Saveur article, the original dish was Carne de Vinha d’alhos. This was meat marinated in wine-vinegar and garlic or (according to this article) Pork with Garlic Wine. In Goa, it was shortened to vindaloo.
Goa is an Indian state known for its exotic spices. We actually own a cool board game called Goa that deals with Portuguese spice trading in the 16th century. It seems that the one thing that most authentic vindaloo has in common is lots of different spices. The secret to any personal recipe seems to be what spices and what amounts.
However, it appears that many restaurants do not bother too much with the spices. As this article from Food and Streets says:
The one you get to eat in a restaurant is not really the original sauce. Often the restaurant version simply has lots of chili powder and vinegar in the basic masala we’re all familiar with.
Apparently, chili peppers were also introduced to India from the Portuguese. India was known for its black pepper and other spices like cardamom, ginger and tamarind. So, vindaloo evolved from this culture mash-up.
As vindaloo spread outside Goa, meats other than pork were used. In the U.S., it seems most vindaloos are made with chicken. Lamb is also an option, but I have yet to encounter a pork vindaloo on a menu.
Vindaloo also has a reputation as a spicy dish. For my version, the spice is toned down and I think this seems par for the course with most recipes I looked at. I go to my Indian market and buy Kashmiri and Laxmi red Indian chilies. The Kashmiri are similar to the mild pasilla chilies and Indian Red Chilies look like chiles de arbol, but are not as spicy.
My recipe cuts down on the cinnamon and personally, I do not use tamarind. This is a taste preference as my family finds these ingredients over-powering. Just note the authentic dish appears to be strongly spiced with those ingredients.
I also added potatoes and red peppers to my version. This is not authentic, but it adds some vegetables. Potatoes are a nice way to add bulk to a dish and my family loves them. Also, as this article notes, “aloo” means potato in Hindi.
In terms of the cut of pork, I use a lean pork loin. Most recipes call for pork shoulder which tends to be fattier. Personally, I like to save pork shoulder for dishes where the pork is shredded. Here it is cut into cubes.
This is an easy dish to prepare. To set the mood I put on side one of my Led Zeppelin Physical Graffiti CD. This CD is exactly 40 minutes long. By the time I was finishing the marinade the closing notes of the last song, Kashmir was playing.
Once prepared you simply let the pork marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. When it is time to cook you simply sauté the meat and let it pressure cook in the Instant Pot for 15 minutes. I always like to remind people that 15 minutes of pressure cooking is more like 45 minutes in real-time. Basically, add a half-hour for building and then releasing pressure.
Vindaloo is a fairly simple dish to make for one that has so many spices. There is also a lot of room to get creative by tinkering with ingredients.
If you don’t have an Indian market nearby you can go to this website for Indian ingredient substitutions. Also, you adjust the heat by using different types and quantities of chili peppers.
In conclusion, I stress that I have never actually tried an authentic pork vindaloo if such a dish exists. If you find a restaurant that serves a version of this dish let me know!
Instant Pot Pork Vindaloo
This is an Instant Pork Vindaloo based on the classic Portuguese/Indian dish developed in Goa.
- 2 pounds boneless pork loin cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 chiles de árbol or Laxmi Indian Red Chilies stemmed and seeds removed
- 6 Kashmiri chilies stemmed and seeds removed (or pasilla chilies)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom seeds about 6 pods
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon whole black pepper
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 4 whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste optional see note
- 8 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 onion diced
- 2 pounds potato cut into cubes
- 1 red pepper sliced
- 2 tablespoon vegetable oil
Cook chilies, cumin seeds, cinnamon, black pepper, mustard seeds, cardamom and cloves in a skillet until they start to smoke (about 2 to 3 minutes). Grind in a blender or food processor.
Add tamarind paste, garlic, ginger, turmeric, brown sugar, salt and vinegar to blender. Blend into a paste. Combine with pork and let marinate in refrigerator for 4 hours.
Heat oil and sauté onions in Instant Pot or skillet, until slightly brown. Add pork and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes.
Add potatoes and red pepper. Cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. Let pressure release naturally.