It is almost universally accepted that vindaloo is one of the world’s hottest curries. Add the world’s hottest chili, Naga Bhut Jolokia, and you have on your plate the spiciest dish in the world!
The history of vindaloo
It is thought that vindaloo has its origins in the Portuguese dish vinho d’alho. Meaning wine and garlic, the traditional dish was served with meat, typically pork, and was brought to Goa in southwest India when it was a popular Portuguese trading port.
Over time the classic dish has seen many changes with wine being replaced by vinegar, the addition of contrasting sugar, potatoes added for cost savings, and the use of red chilies and other spices.
As the dish has traveled internationally it has also developed spicier connotations, particularly in the United Kingdom where vindaloo is more of a dare than a dish to be desired.
Goa’s ports are as bustling today as they were when they were popular with Portuguese traders. Photo by abgraflxlab.
Naga Bhut Jolokia
Naga Bhut Jolokia, sometimes known as ghost chili, was awarded the title of the world’s hottest pepper in 2007 by the Guinness Book of World Records. While the title has since passed to the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper in 2011, the ghost chili remains the hottest chili commercially available.
Cultivated in northeast India, among other places, the Naga Bhut Jolokia hits a sweat inducing 855,000 heat units on the Scoville Scale, the scale used to measure chili heat. By comparison, Tabasco sauce has a paltry 2,500 to 5,000 heat units.
Anandita Dutta Tamuli would have you believe that the Naga Bhut Jolokia is child’s play as she holds the record for eating 60 in one sitting.
However, track down videos of everyday people sampling the chili and you will see how even the smallest bite can reduce a person into a crying mass of pain in a matter of minutes.
The Naga Bhut Jolokia. Looks innocent, but it isn’t. Photo by wstryder.
Creating the world’s spiciest dish
Although Goan vindaloo is a far cry from its native Portuguese dish, it’s also somewhat different to the dish that has developed overseas.
Served with pork, absent potatoes and possessing its traditional blend of sweet and sour, the recipe below presents an authentic version of traditional Goan vindaloo. However, to reflect the modern trend for heat, this recipe also replaces traditional red chilies with the mouth numbing Naga Bhut Jolokia.
I was trained in chili eating by my father who can chomp through a habanero like it’s candy. I always seek out the hottest dishes when I travel but when I sampled this version of vindaloo I felt dizzy…mainly because I was running around in circles in intense pain. Beware!
Vindaloo includes an aromatic blend of spices. Photo by germeister.
Garlic and ginger add extra depths of flavor to this dish. Photo by: naz66.
1. Gently dry fry the whole spices (peppercorns, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin) for a few minutes, stirring continually to ensure they don’t burn.
2. Place the same spices in a pestle and mortar and grind to a fine powder.
3. Chop and blend the garlic and ginger with the water to make a paste.
4. Chop and add the Naga Bhut Jolokia.
Warning: Use gloves to chop the chili and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards. If you think you can handle it, add more chili, but put a miniscule dot on your tongue first to get a sense of the heat before making your dish inedible.
5. Add the vinegar and honey to the paste then combine with the ground spices.
6. Heat half of the clarified butter or ghee and use to brown the pork in batches.
7. Heat the remaining clarified butter or ghee and add the mustard seeds. Fry until they start to pop then add the fresh curry leaves and cook for 1 minute. Add the onion and gently fry until caramelized.
8. Add the tomatoes, stir in the paste and add enough water to cover the meat. Leave to simmer for around one hour until the meat is tender.
9. Serve with rice and naan bread. Have a good portion of cucumber, full fat yoghurt or raita (or all three) ready to absorb the heat.
Tip: Remember, the principle that oil and water don’t mix so if the heat hits, don’t waste time glugging gallons of water as it won’t soothe the pain.
Have you attempted a spicy vindaloo or tried Naga Bhut Jolokia? Let me know in the comments below.
If you like this, you might also like: How to Make a Pad Thai in 5 Minutes.
Main photo: Do you have what it takes to try vindaloo with naga bhut jolokia? by panafoodie.