Pig in a pickle


Although Saturday was wet and dismal, I was off to a good start. Breakfast was a champion pork pie from Mrs King and a few cannele bordelais, a type of orange French pastry and my new favourite thing (recipe coming soon!).

I was meeting my friend Simon, who’s one hermano in reviewer and writer duo Dos Hermanos. We had planned a day of serious feasting and festivities – an idea we’d been hatching since he left for America a month or two before. I thought it was a fine time to brush up on my Indian cooking skills and pinch some of his brilliant family recipes. The unfathomably good kind you never find in a cookbook.

We spent the morning shopping – a few bits from Borough, a trip to Brixton market to pick up fruit and vegetables, spices and herbs. Then, through a wet and windy afternoon, he regaled me with tales of his exploits eating his way round the world while we enjoyed the fragrant warmth of toasting spices, simmering turmeric-infused coconut milk and a hot green coriander and chilli chutney.

And he taught me his vindaloo, which is a million miles from the incendiary device usually served in curry houses. This is the real deal – an old Portuguese dish given the Indian treatment, rich and pungent with vinegar and spices. It’s a show-stealer and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Simon Majumdar’s Vindaloo

Chef’s tip: make extra spice mix and freeze to use in a curry another day

Ingredients (Serves 5-6)

  • 2lbs of pork, cubed, preferably shoulder

For the marinade

  • 60ml palm vinegar
  • 60ml white wine vinegar (or use all white wine vinegar if you can’t find palm)
  • half a thumb of ginger, peeled
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • half a white onion
  • 2 black cardamom (optional)


For the spice mix

  • 5 cloves
  • 4 chillies finely minced (you could use dried, if so, use 2-3)
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp hot chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon or a cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp salt



First, the alchemy – your spice mix. In a dry frying pan, toast the cloves, cumin, coriander, cinnamon stick and dried chilli (if using) until they become fragrant and aromatic, but not burnt. Blend these in a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar if you are feeling energetic until you have a fine powder. Add the turmeric, ground ginger, chilli and sugar and set aside.

Whiz the garlic and ginger together in a blender until you have a smooth paste. Mix the vinegar, spice mix and cardamom pods and then stir into the pork. Leave to marinade in the fridge for a few hours.

Heat some oil in a large, lidded oven-proof pan. Fry the onion until it starts to go golden. Add the pork and cook out for a couple of minutes to burn off some of the vinegar. Add about half a pint of water. You can then either transfer to a pre-heated over at 150ºC for three hours or let it simmer on the hob for the same amount of time, adding more water if the pan becomes too dry. You are looking for a thick, stew-like consistency – the final curry should be quite dry. Serve with Indian breads or rice and a dollop of raita.


  1. This is on the menu for next week. My mouth is drooling.
    I have to say though, surely only shoulder would work with such a long cooking time? And why so long, would 2 hours not do?
    Nice one

  2. It would seem so – but generally any stewing pork has enough fat/sinew that breaks down wonderfully with slow cooking. You could probably get away with two hours but the slower the better so the meat doesn’t tense up. Enjoy the curry!

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