Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A Real Goa

The sour and fruity taste of tamarind merges well with the heat of chillies and gives many South Indian dishes their hot and sour character, and their dark colour.In India,tamarind is mostly combined with meat, legumes, lentils,chick peas or beans.The pulp is sold dry and must be soaked before using. Only the water is then  added to the food.Alternatively(and more comfortably), tamarind extract may be used with the same effect.A well-known example of a Southern Indian dish employing tamarind is vindaloo,a pork stew from Goa.Goa was a Portuguese colony until the 1960´s; as a Portuguese heritage,pork is very popular in Goan cooking.Basically,vindaloo is a spicy,tropical version of the Portuguese porco vinho e alho.Pork is marinated with a paste made from vinegar (instead of the original wine), spring onions, garlic, ginger and a host of spices (chilli,cloves,cinnamon,pepper,cumin)  for several hours and then, together with the marinade and tamarind water, stewed until tender.I have applied these basics to the dish but have modified some elements to personalize it.I have used Medronho the local Algarvian fire water made from the arbutus berry, but a good alternative would be Sake.
Slow cooked Pork belly with Medronho, 
black eyed peas and tamarind
SERVES 4

100g soya beans
1kg belly pork in one piece
45ml Medronho
80 ml rice wine vinegar
1tablespoon peanut oil
2tablespoons sesame oil
3 garlic cloves,roughly chopped
4spring onions, white parts only,chopped
5thin slices fresh ginger
250mlchicken or vegetable stock
2tablespoonslight soya sauce
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon flor de sal 

Soak the beans overnight in 750ml cold water. Drain and transfer to a large saucepan. add plenty of boiling  and set the  pan over a medium heat. Cook for 45-50 minutes, until the beans are tender.
Drain and set aside.Cut the belly pork into 8 pieces. Put them in a dish and pour over the Medronho. cover with cling film and set aside for 1 hour, turning often. Remove the pork from the Medronho reserving the Medronho.Put the Peanut oil in a large flameproof casserole and set over a high heat. Cook the pork in batches( so as not to overcrowd the pan), for 4-5 minutes, turning often until golden all over. Put the browned pork in a bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3.
Add the sesame oil to the casserole. Add the garlic, spring onions and ginger. Stir fry for 1-2 minutes,until aromatic and softened. Add the reserved Medronho, allowing it to boil and cook until the liquid has reduced by half, stirring to remove any pork residues from the bottom and sides of the casserole. add the stock, soya sauce, tamarind, sugar and salt and return the pork to the pan, stirring until the tamarind has melded in. Bring to the boil,cover with a tight fitting lid,transfer to the preheated oven and cook for 2 hours, turning the pork after 1 hour. Stir in the soya beans,cover and cook for 30 minutes more. Serve hot.





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