Turkey Vendaloo

In preparation for our upcoming trip to South India I will be experimenting with Indian cooking. At first glance the recipes in my two resources Classic Indian Cooking  by Julie Sahni and Healthy South Indian Cooking by Alamelu Vairavan and Patricia Marquardt seem long, complicated and filled with exotic ingredients. In truth, these days most of the ingredients can be found at better supermarkets in larger metropolitan areas. If not there are good mail order sources such as I Shop Indian. As for the recipes, once the ingredients are prepped, the dish comes together quite quickly and easily.

For our first home cooked Indian mini feast we prepared Vendaloo, a spicy meat stew from the southwestern state of Goa accompanied by glazed cauliflower with ginger and a cooling cucumber and yogurt salad. Although Julie Sahni’s Vendaloo recipe uses the traditional pork, the author notes that the stew can be made with most any meat. This being the holiday season with an abundance of turkey available in the markets, we tried the recipe using turkey thigh with good results.

Vendaloo, known for its heat and intense flavors is not for the timid, but for those who appreciate bold flavors, it’s and fun and impressive dish that is easy to make. Note, however, that the marinade is started a day or two before cooking the stew.

Based on the recipe Goanese Hot and Pungent Curry (Vendaloo) in Classic Indian Cooking  by Julie Sahni.

Two turkey thighs – meat cut from the bone and cut into ¾ inch cubes. Save the bones.

Note: can be made with other meats that stand up to cooking in a stew.

For the Marinade

1 t cumin seed, toasted and ground
1 t black mustard seed, toasted and ground
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 T fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
2 T cider vinegar
2 T vegetable oil
½ t ground cinnamon
¼ t ground clove

A day or two before you plan to cook the stew, prepared the meat and marinade and let sit in the refrigerator.

Place all the marinade ingredients in as food processor and process until you have a smooth puree. In a nonmetallic bowl, combine the marinade puree and cubed meat until the meat is evenly coated with the marinade. Cover with plastic and let sit in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours.

For the Stew

1-inch ball tamarind pulp, soaked in 1 ¼ cup boiling water and pressed through a strainer. Squeeze out as much pulp as possible. Save the tamarind water and discard the remaining pod and seeds.
Vegetable oil for frying onions and spices
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ t turmeric
½ to 1 ½ t cayenne (Most of the heat in this dish is from the red pepper. Adjust according to your taste.)
1 ½ t paprika
Salt to taste

In a frying pan large enough to hold the finished dish, heat the oil over a medium high flame and fry the onions until brown, about 12 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the spices and cook for about 15 seconds. Add the meat, marinade and bones. Brown the meat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

Add the tamarind juice and about ½ t of salt. After the stew has reached a boil, reduce the flame to a simmer and cook partially covered until the meat is very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the bones and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately.

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