Smackdown: Vindalooooooooo!


Do we have an etymologist specializing in Hindi and/or Portuguese in the house?


Yeah, we never do.

I ask because there is some confusion over the origins of the name “pork vinadaloo.” (Not the “pork” part so much.) An Indian friend of Brian’s insists that it comes from the word for “potato” (“aloo” in Hindi) and that vindaloo always includes them. My cookbook, Curry Cuisine, begs to differ and says it comes from Portuguese, and that what makes it a vindaloo is the liberal use of spices and the vinegar.

Wikipedia seems to settle the argument, explaining both the word origin and the potato thing, but we all know that Wikipedia is written by liars and drug addicts and lying drug addicts and cannot be trusted. I guess we’ll never know.


My vindaloo started last night with a spice paste. I sullied the coffee grinder with cumin seed, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and peppercorns, but Brian could only be mildly irritated because it was all done in the name of Indian food. The spices got FoProed with jalapeño, garlic, ginger and lemon juice.

Well, theoretically FoProed. Because I am inept, I couldn’t figure out how to get the mini FoPro to go. I twisted and locked and clicked for a good twenty minutes, but the machine refused to cooperate. Eventually, I got so frustrated that I abandoned the FoPro on the counter, still full of spices and aromatics, and went to watch America’s Next Top Model, which is a CLEAR sign that I’m upset. It sat for a good three hours until my rocket scientist husband came home and worked his magic, i.e., properly aligned the lid. I am not embarrassed at all.

Well, I’m a little embarrassed that I just admitted to watching Top Model. Pretend that you don’t know that about me.


The spice paste finally having been finished, I tossed it with some pork cubes and then took this unnecessarily close-up photo because it was late and I was too lazy to change the lens on my camera.

When I got home tonight, I took the pork out of the fridge to take the chill off, and put together the rest of the dish. A plentiful helping of garlic and onion went into the pot, followed a few minutes later by tomatoes, turmeric, chili powder and wine vinegar and later still by the pork. After another ten minutes or so, I added some water to the pot, turned things down to a simmer and left the pork to cook through and the sauce to thicken.


The pork simmered for about half an hour while I ate a Fudgsicle, listened to some Chopin while perusing a Land’s End catalog – I always like Romantic music when shopping for flannel-lined pants – and waited for Brian to get home from work.

As an aside, I noticed that in Land’s End-world, people like to wear really high-waisted pants; the women all risked strangulation by waistband, and even the guys appeared to be wearing mom jeans. I demand an explanation. To their credit, there is a modestly high-waisted fit that only comes up to mid-chest called the “modern” fit, so I guess they are trying.


For dinner, I lightly dressed some baby spinach with lemon juice, piled some on my plate, piled on some more because I’ve only pooped the once today and added some chunks of pork and some of the now-thick sauce.

To be honest, it looked kind of like Fancy Feast on a bed of greens; I’m 0-for-2 in the “aesthetically pleasing dinner” battle this week. Thank god it tasted heavenly. Spicy enough to burn your lips a little but not so hot that all the flavors were masked, with a subtle interplay of warm spices and ginger and an acid punch from the tomatoes and vinegar that made it taste impossibly fresh. The lemony spinach, which was kind of an afterthought, actually went perfectly, though normally this would probably be eaten over rice.

Curry Cuisine is now a solid 3-for-3 in the Smackdown department, and I strongly recommend that you splurge a little, spend the $13 and pick yourself up a copy.

9 thoughts on “Smackdown: Vindalooooooooo!

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention thursday night smackdown » Smackdown: Vindalooooooooo! --

  2. I am a huge advocate for the 2nd cheap coffee grinder just for spices. I have a $7 Proctor Silex jobby that gets pulled out and used only when i’m toasting and grinding those delicious Indian spices. I dont even really clean it out because why bother? LOL

  3. Such an excellent vindaloo that I’m sure even Dave Lister would approve.

    If you want to confuse words even more, I’ll point out that my favorite Indian restaurant spells it Tindaloo.

    You released it to the internet. I’m afraid there is no going back on the America’s Top Model thing.

    Well, one day low waisted pants will go out of style, so maybe Land’s End is just fashion forward? I do know they are one of the few catalogs where petite is truly petite and a 4’11” woman doesn’t drown in them. Speaking of drowning, they make actual petite swimwear. Now that’s a godsend.

    Now you have me feeling all maudlin about how a week ago today I was looking at Chopin’s grave. :-(

  4. maybelle’s, thanks! multiple sources support the portuguese derivation, so i’m going with that one, too.

    carter, glad i could produce a chuckle. also, it’s totally true.

    vera, yeah, i really have to get one. i don’t know why i haven’t yet, they’re so cheap. maybe this weekend.

    rachel, tindaloo is an obscenely fun world.

  5. I would totally pick up Curry Cuisine, but I got 660 Curries in September and my non-curry-loving boyfriend would probably set my entire bookshelf ablaze if I came home with ANOTHER curry cookbook.

    (I watch Top Model too. It may be shameful, but so addictive.)

  6. My Indian friend conceded. Then he spilled a pint of Guinness on my lap. Then I went back to the office with cold wet pants smelling like beer. Oh, Fridays.

  7. I believe it comes from the word “vin” as in “wine” and the “aloo” portion is not potatoes but a corruption of the Middle Eastern general name for garlic (ail in French).

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