Guinea Fowl Vindail

A: I have never been interested in football and consequently never had a first hand experience of the fervour that a football match can generate. Now, living close to a football stadium and also being in close proximity to big English football clubs like Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham and West Ham United, I do get a sense of the intense passion. So it is no surprise that I have heard people shouting “Vindaloo, Vindaloo” at the top of their voice.

“♫ ♫ Me and me mum, and me dad and me gran ♪ ♪

♫ ♫ We’re off to Waterloo ♪ ♪

♫ ♫ Me and me mum and me dad and me gran ♪ ♪

♫ ♫ And a bucket of Vindaloo ♪ ♪” – that’s how the Fat Les song goes.

No doubt chicken vindaloo is one of the favourite dishes in England and the tales in the pubs about the origin of this dish are many. The most convincing is probably the one which attributes the origin to Goa, India where there is Portuguese influence in the cooking.

The preparation of this dish is also varied and how it ultimately tastes depends on the quantity of white wine vinegar that goes into it. I prefer this variant as it has just a tablespoon of vinegar at the end and hence the taste is not too vinegary. This one is from Pondicherry, India, where the French had a base for 300 years. I found the recipe in Rick Stein’s book on India. He has suggested to cook this with chicken thighs and drumsticks. We did try it as suggested. But I was looking for a meat with more depth of taste to balance the richness of the curry. So, here’s my take on the dish with a slightly gamy meat – guinea fowl.

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You need a 1 kg guinea fowl to serve 4-5 people. Get your butcher to cut the bird in big chunks of 8-10 pieces. It also helps to take the skin off as there is no roasting involved in the preparation.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 cm piece of cinnamon stick

1 star anise

2 medium red onions, chopped

10 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp ground cumin

2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

1/2 tsp toasted ground fenugreek

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 stp salt

500 gm fresh tomatoes on the vine, roughly sliced

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar

1 kg guinea fowl

This dish is meant to be messy as it has the meat on the bones. I would recommend digging in, eating with your fingers and ditching the cutlery.

A heavy-based saucepan is needed for this dish. Heat the oil on medium heat and fry the cinnamon, clove and star anise till fragrant. The onions go in next and takes about 10-15 minutes to turn golden brown. Once the onions are soft add the garlic and cumin and fry for 2 minutes. The chilli powder, fenugreek, turmeric, salt and chopped tomatoes go in next and it needs another 5 minutes for the tomatoes to start breaking down.

Add the meat and stir gently so that the meat is uniformly coated with the spice mix. Cover it with a lid and cook for 35 minutes. To finish off add the table spoon of vinegar and sugar and cook uncovered for 5 minutes or till the gravy is reduced to sufficient dryness.

This goes well with American long grain rice and naan breads.

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