Cook's Illustrated Recipes»Stews»Indian»Pork»Pork Vindaloo Recipe

Complex spices, loads of garlic, and sharp vinegar make this Indian pork stew unique. What does it take to make it great?

The Problem

We found two recurring problems with recipes for this dish: tough, dry pork and muddled flavors.

The Goal

In a great version of Vindaloo, the meat is tender, the liquid is thick and deep reddish-orange in color, and the flavors are complex.

The Solution

A boneless Boston butt was the best choice for the stew meat. It had enough fat to keep the meat tender and juicy during the long cooking process, and the boneless cut had less waste. Thorough browning enhanced the flavor of the pork and the broth; two hours of simmering in the oven made the meat perfectly fork tender. After trying a dozen-odd different spice blends, one thing became obvious: We needed sweet and sour flavors to help balance the heat and complex spices found in the classic dish. For chili flavor and heat, we combined sweet paprika and cayenne. To give the stew its traditional earthiness, we added cumin, cardamom, and cloves. Mustard seeds added pungency. Bay leaves and fresh cilantro added herbal flavors. Toasting the spices before adding them to the stew made them taste richer and fuller. We used chicken broth for the liquid, flavored with lots of onion, loads of minced garlic, diced tomatoes, red wine vinegar, and just a teaspoon of sugar.