Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Vindaloo Curry Lamb and Jackfruit with Papaya Chutney

A spicy southeast Indian entree!
     The word Vindaloo is often said to be a Portuguese description of a specific style of southeast Indian curry.  Many food historians say that the word Vindaloo is a hyphenated word that describes a few ingredients in a Goa region red masala cooking preparation.  Some say the word Vindaloo actually is Indian in origin and the Portuguese words that describe this Goa masala are descendant of old Arabic and Indian spice trade words.  Many Latin food words are modified Arabic and Indian words.  The Portuguese words for "palm vinegar and garlic" are Vin-da-alho and those words are similar to old Arabic and Indian descriptive words that mean just about the same thing.  To put it in a simple manner, many modern european, Latin, African and Arabic food words have their roots in ancient Indian dialect languages.
     Anyway, so much for human history and anthropology!  This is a food blog!  I do tend to delve into food history and food topics that may lead a reader to develop an interest in doing more research.
     Being able to intelligently converse about food history can lead to opportunity.  In the old movie scenes from the 1920's through the 1940's, Harvard or Oxford archaeologists were invited as guests to a mansion for a formal dinner with wealthy supporters of their expedition.  During the formal dinner, intelligent conversations about archaeology, anthropology and theology were meant to impress and often led to funding for a dig at a newly discovered site or funding to explore and find a mythical undiscovered site.  The conveyed knowledge was meant to impress the hosts in an effort to gain the means for the venture.  Those same events occurred in real life back in that era.
     Modern fine dining table etiquette still does involve witty well educated conversations.  A true gourmand is capable of carrying on well educated culinary history conversations with interested guests.  An aspiring chef can benefit by impressing hosts with vast culinary knowledge and then possibly gain a foothold on obtaining support for funding for a restaurant venture!  Knowledge is power and there is no such thing as too much information in the culinary arts field.
     Okay, back to reality a second time!  Vindaloo masala for curry can be made at home or in a restaurant.  The process takes two days.  What a cook will end up with is a fresh vindaloo red curry paste that looks exactly the same as a jar of pre-made Indian vindaloo paste.  On the downside, it costs 20 times as much to make the fresh vindaloo curry paste than it does to purchase a jar of good vindaloo curry paste at and Indian market.  Pre-made jars of vindaloo curry paste are a good thing!
     Jackfruit has its origins in Indian tropical rain forests.  Jackfruit is the largest of all tree fruits and a single jackfruit can weigh over 80 pounds!  If one of these fruits fall on a persons head, it can be lethal and that has been known to happen.  You might say that jackfruit is capable of being a killer fruit!  Jackfruit has been part of Indian cuisine for well over 6,000 years and it can be served unripe or ripe as a cooked or raw dish.  Jackfruit seeds can taste like chicken.  The fruit tastes like durian and it has a light tropical banana pineapple custard kind of flavor.  Jackfruit is often used to flavor and sweeten curry recipes.  Jackfruit is also a cancer fighting food.  In India, food is medicine.
     I used khubz arabi (pita bread) as an accompaniment for this recipe.  The origins of pita bread are similar to naan bread.  Both these bread styles have their origins in Persia.  I bought some oven fresh soft khubz arabi (pita bread) at an Arabic market today and I wanted to enjoy the pita bread with a spicy curry.  If you want to make a fresh naan bread, then you will need a stone slab walled tandori oven or a high temperature oven with a stone slab walls.  Naan is best when made fresh.  Since I currently have a cheap electric stove in my apartment, authentic fresh naan bread was impossible to make!
     Making chutney is like making jam or preserves.  It takes time for the flavors of a good chutney to mellow and meld.  Papaya chutney is nice with this recipe.  Papaya enzymes act as a digestive aid for meat.

     Papaya Chutney Recipe:
     This recipe makes a couple cups of chutney!
     Boil 2 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pot over high heat.
     Add 1 cup of cider vinegar.
     Add about 1 cup of sugar.
     Taste the liquid.  The mixture should taste like a balanced sweet and sour flavor.
     Reduce the liquid over high heat, till it just starts to become a light syrup.
     Reduce the temperature to medium/medium high heat.
     Add 1 chopped peeled small apple.  (The pectin from the apple with help to create the required jelly texture in the chutney.)
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced dried fruit.  (Dried cherries, prunes, seeded tamarind paste, white raisons or dark raisons are best for making chutney.  The dried fruit adds extra depth and flavor.  This isn't a dark fruit chutney, so so don't add too much dried fruit.  I used a few dried cherries to make this batch of chutney.)    
     Add 2 tablespoons of minced fresh ginger.
     Add a squeeze of lemon juice.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of thin strips of fresh lemon zest.
     Add 1 small handful of finely chopped onion.
     Add 2 finely chopped green onions.  (Only use the white sections of the green onions.)
     Add 4 minced cloves of garlic.
     Add 2 tablespoons of finely chopped green bell pepper.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely chopped red bell pepper.
     Add 1 finely minced Scotch Bonnet chili pepper.  (Habanero chile pepper is a good substitute.)
     Add 2 cups of small diced peeled and seeded papaya fruit.
     Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of allspice.
     Add just a pinch of turmeric.
     Add 1 pinch of garam masala curry powder.
     Bring the ingredients to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to medium low heat.
     Simmer the chutney, till it reduces and thickens to a rich fruit preserve consistency.
     Place the hot chutney into an uncovered storage container.
     Cool the chutney in a refrigerator.
     When the chutney becomes cold, cover the container.
     Allow the chutney to sit undisturbed in the refrigerator for two weeks.
     It takes two weeks for the flavors to fully meld in a chutney.

     Red Curry Lamb and Jackfruit Recipe:
     Boil 3 1/2 cups of water in a sauce pot over medium heat.
     Add 1 1/3 cups of chopped onion.
     Add 6 chopped garlic cloves.
     Simmer and reduce, till the onions and garlic turn into thin soupy mushy puree masala base.  Whisk occasionally to help break down the ingredients.  Whisk the soup onion garlic masala mush, till it becomes a smooth puree.
     Simmer till the masala reduces to about 1 to 1 1/2 cups in volume.
     Add 2 teaspoons of ginger paste.
     Add 2 tablespoons of Indian red curry paste or Vindaloo curry paste.
     Add sea salt.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of coriander.
     Add 2 pinches of cumin.
     Add 6 to 8 ounces of lamb shoulder that is cut into small bite size pieces.  (Some Indian recipes only require poaching meat in a sauce!)
     Add 1/2 cup of water.
     Return the liquid to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 3 pats of unsalted butter.  (Use ghee or clarified butter if you wish.)
     Add 1/4 cup of each of these small chopped vegetables:
     - Green bell pepper
     - Red bell pepper
     - Zucchini squash that has been cored and seeded.
     Add 3/4 cup of chopped jackfruit that has been seeded and peeled.  (Canned jack fruit is also okay to use, if fresh jackfruit is not available.  Unsweetened canned jackfruit is a nice product.)
     Simmer the curry, till it begins to become thick.
     Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Add 1/3 cup of coconut milk.
     Stir the coconut milk into the curry.
     Simmer for 2 minutes.
     Vindaloo Curry Lamb and Jackfruit with Papaya Chutney:
     Ladle the red curry lamb and jackfruit into a small casserole serving dish.
     Set the serving dish on a plate.
     Place some warm naan bread or khubz arabi (pita bread) on the plate.
     Place a ramekin of papaya chutney on the plate.
     Garnish the plate with cilantro sprigs.

     The jackfruit adds just enough of a fruit flavor to keep the curry from tasting too spicy hot.  Papaya chutney adds a cooling effect.  This is a fun tasty Indian entree!

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