If the British had done one thing that is good and bad it would be the “branding” of Indian cuisine. Now the whole world thinks “curry” is just a magical powder you can buy off the shelf from a grocery store – and can make your own steamy vindaloos tasting just like your Indian friend’s mom made at home, when they invited you over for a birthday dinner at their place filling the whole neighborhood with an aroma that lasted for the next few days.
The term “Curry” has come a long way. And I don’t know which way exactly. But for the fact that this branding has helped bring the global population open its eyes and nostrils & even taste buds to Indian cuisine, I would really be furious with the British for simplifying Indian cuisine into one word. I may even spray paint my blog with red all over just to make a point. But I am not going to do that as I am just fresh with memories from my last night’s dinner with a bunch of blokes & blondes, most of who had not eaten Indian food that often before. So this dining table neighbor of mine was entrusted with the excruciating task of ordering food for 12 people. He (an Indian by the way), just needed some help to come up with mature suggestions for a mixed group. I was the only vegetarian on the table and keeping that in mind, we spent about 15 minutes trying to come up with a table full of dishes that everyone can look, dip and eat to their satisfaction.
“Make sure you order a Vindaloo”, a Texas woman from the far corner of the table uttered.
“At least we know one dish to order. Ok…let’s order 2 shrimp vindaloos and 2 chicken vindaloos”.
The brainstorming continued for a few more minutes before we finalized our list –
“4 plates of samosas, 2 plates of paneer tikka and 2 plates of kebab platter for appetizers and 1 daal makhani, 1 navaratan korma, 2 bindi masala, 2 chicken vindaloo, 2 shrimp vindaloo and 1 lamb vindaloo with some naans & kulchas.”
That’s when Ian Anderson (of Jethro Tull fame) came into my ears and started singing about a tall thin girl –
“Well, I don’t care to eat out in smart restaurants.I’d rather do a Vindaloo” *
As we were driving back to the hotel, I was deeply immersed in thoughts trying to understand what it is in a vindaloo that has made it all the way to Jethro Tull. That’s when it struck me. Why aren’t there any popular vegetarian versions of the vindaloo?
Like..”Aloo Vindaloo” or “Paneer Vindaloo” or “Kofta Vindaloo” or something. May be, I will take that up as a challenge and experiment on making a vegetarian vindaloo dish soon. But what is vindaloo really?
It supposedly is of “Goan” origin or to be precise of Portuguese origin. Anything that is from Goa, I have my doubts…But this may be different. Vindaloo does not necessarily mean that it is fiery-hot even though the British have made it to be. It is just the process of slow marinated cooking in wine, with tons of spices mixed in a certain ratio.
Making vegetarian vindaloo may not be difficult after all once I get this process straight. I will try to update the blog with my vindaloo wayfaring experience when it happens.
Till that time, soak in some “hot mango flush”!
* Link for Ian Anderson’s Indian Food Guide: