Describing Qualia


A few weeks ago, a student in my MA course posted a question that took a little while to answer. I’m including it, and my answer here for reference.

Can someone please explain to me how qualia links into what constitutes the self? I seriously cannot see the correlation.

Most philosophers seem able to agree on at least this much: that if there are such things as qualia, then what they do is carry the elemental bits of any subjective experience “to” the subject having the experience. What someone describes when talking about a single quale is very small; it might be most analogous to the color of a single pixel represented on a theater screen.

That the analogy is of the pixel’s color, and not the pixel itself is important: qualia do not represent experiences; they are constitutive of them. Subjective life without any qualia at all is to some people a meaningless statement. It would be like saying there could be such a thing as an experience “over there” being “had” by nothing; or more specifically, having an experience without qualia is akin to not having an experience at all. If this is a little confusing, perhaps a clearer way of putting it is describing three people watching a film. The first watcher is deaf, and so her experience includes no aural qualia; the second is blind, and experiences no visual qualia. The third is deaf, and blind, and so may very well be described as not experiencing the film at all- so once again, the elimination of qualia constitutes the elimination of experience.

Now you’re probably still wondering, “what does this have to do with the self?” First, there’s quite a bit of literature on the concept of “philosophical zombies”, which are easily defined as people who lack any qualia at all. As this notion runs, these people walk, talk, and act just like you or I do, but all their responses and activities lack any sort of subjective perspective or personal experience – they are neither self-conscious, or can even be said to be strictly aware of anything, any more than a thermostat is “aware” of temperature fluctuations (which is where the debates usually begin). As these creatures ostensibly have no qualia, there is no sense in which it is coherent to say that there is some way it’s “like” to be a p-zombie, and without this sense of being it becomes very difficult to say whether it’s possible to claim that these creatures have anything like a personal identity- there is no subjectivity there, for any properties we normally ascribe to ourselves to “hang on to”, so to speak.

So this is how qualia come to be constitutive of selves. That they exist implies that an experience, however minimal, is being had, by some subject; that subject of the experiences we have is what we normally come to call “ourselves”.

Vegetable Lasagna

I’ll clean this up later. Barilla lasagna pasta or better.
Bottom layer:

- 2 eggplant, sliced and fried with olive oil and garlic
- 3 zucchini, sliced and fried with olive oil and garlic
- ground black pepper

Middle layer

- 2 onions, 3 bell bell peppers chopped finely, 3 carrots shredded, mix together and fry in olive oil
- 2 tubs of ricotta cheese


- 3 tomatoes sliced
- 2 balls of fresh mozzarella, sliced

Sauce is béchamel from 1L milk with salt and nutmeg

Silencing, Rhetoric, and Argumentation

While sick in bed today I’ve had the rare chance to catch up on my “other” inbox, which consists of about forty webcomics, four news feeds, and sixteen various philosophy blogs. It’s not particularly normal for me to follow a train of thought in any of this, but there did seem to be a emerging theme today that I wanted to follow up on.

First, the news: unsurprisingly, for anyone following political discourse over the last few years, the US government shut down yesterday in a stalemate over (ostensibly) whether or not to obligate US citizens to have health insurance. As terrible as this political theater is, it gives us a rare opportunity to study more closely how opinion and authority can come to gridlock in an argument, where “agreeing to disagree” becomes “inability to act.” This is notable because it’s not just a mere equation of who has the most votes or influence, but requires a willing disregard of any points or values that an opponent holds, as if there’s a zero-sum game of thrones going on, with no degree of acceptable compromise. At least three articles I came across today relate strongly to this theme of argumentative brinkmanship, and its methods, and I’ll present them in brief here, with the hope that someone, somewhere is interested enough to comment. What I’m hoping to find is a solution, or at least something that looks like a worthwhile method to try resolving this sort of fight.

The first practical recommendation, on how to identify and confront the tactic of “silencing” comes by way of Rachel McKinnon on NewAPPs blog. Silencing is the art of getting someone to “drop out of a discussion, either by leaving or becoming and remaining silent.” It ought to be obvious why this tactic is poor rhetoric, but well-used in political debate: it ignores the opponent by pretending her view has no value; it ridicules the other side, leaving any possibility of compromise in the dust. Most appallingly, it reduces the potential of good argumentation, but more on that in a moment.

This act of ridiculing the opponent, and silencing discourse is prevalent on both sides of the current government shutdown. Blame is levied by one camp against another, and apparently no one (not even myself) is free from taking a stand on one side or another. If you’re for the Affordable Care Act, you must be a liberal, and cannot challenge it; if you’re against Obamacare, you must be a conservative, and even allowing a discussion where the new law might be correct is taboo. This grandstanding and team-building becomes its own form of silencing tactic, by sticking everyone into one of the only two straw-men armies. Discourse fails, because compromise itself is ridiculed, and silenced- precisely the political goal. As Paul Redding in the second article on this theme points out:

The discipline of philosophy developed in ancient Greece in opposition to a rival discipline popular, then and now, with politicians: rhetoric. The philosophers saw as mere rhetoric language used just to achieve a desired result – to trigger an immediate response rather than a reasoned one. A contemporary term for this, “dog-whistling”, captures the picture well. Dogs react to mere sounds, they don’t act on the basis of concepts expressed in words. The word “ridiculous”, unaccompanied by reasons, is really just a whistle.

Before we despair though, there are very good reasons to consider how we might be able to shift the use of rhetoric to achieve better results. The last article, which I want to look at more closely goes directly to the heart of this problem: a real rhetorical view “counsels arguers to seek to begin from the other’s point of view.” Silencing an opponent is worse than merely being stubborn; it isn’t even rhetoric, in the sense that Redding has it, nor is it argumentation. It’s a failure to recognize that members of “the other team” are even human.

Good philosophy, and good argumentation, can only begin if at least one person takes the position that her opponent’s point of view is worth at least considering, in its strongest sense, before attempting to craft an argument against it. It’s not for nothing that we call this the Principle of Charity. Certainly, if your opponent refuses to listen at all, then nothing can be done, but I don’t believe this is actually what’s going on in the public sphere right now. Rather, I believe we’ve all learned to disrespect one another to such a degree in order to achieve the political goal that we must always kowtow to “our” larger party, in a widely accepted and implicit reformulation of Thrasymachus’s old oft-quoted (though paraphrased) adage “might makes right” into the modern age’s “majority makes right.” How else are we supposed to interpret phrases like “the majority of Americans want X”? If we aren’t with our party, we must be against it.

I don’t buy into this view of the debate. I believe there are good reasons for mistrusting the current form of health care as it’s been structured, and certainly many criticism besides. There are plenty of good moral arguments against obligating people by threat of financial deterrence to preserve themselves. Of course, that’s not the non-coverage fine’s justification; the real justification for the fine is that the program needs funding, and so we have a tax parading as a fine; but that is an entirely different can of worms and beside the point. Respect for others is not something you demand of your opponent, because respect, like trust, is only earned by being the first to extend it.

However, I’m skeptical that my mistrust of government oversight alone is sufficient reason to not attempt it. No law in America is truly eternal, and in the spirit of real trial and error, and recognition of the fact that there is no practically available alternative, and furthermore the very apparent and immediate moral obligation to care for the other less secure members of that loosely connected and extended family we call the American Public, we should at least give it a try.

Added 07 Oct  A later post on a related topic feels relevant. Wouldn’t want to give anyone the wrong idea.
“… deployment of the rhetoric of ‘crazy’ and ‘extreme positions’ when talking about Tea Party values and policies is dangerous.[..] To be clear: quite a bit of Tea Party rhetoric is immoral and demagogic. Nobody should be blind to the regular flirtations with racism and sexism that some important Tea Party activists/politicians deploy. But to be immoral is not the same as being crazy. Moreover, the three core insights of the Tea Party — (i) that the national government has embraced the values of the well-educated; (ii) that the Federal government is a near-permanent-war-making and resource extracting machine that serves the interest of the rich; (iii) that the rule of law is being undermined in the service of (ii) — are not extremist; they are reality. During the last half decade we have learned that protecting the financial interests of an extremely small class of monied interests is far more important than the general welfare. To acknowledge this, does not require anybody to agree with Tea Party solutions or even to reject the status quo (or pine for non-elite values).”

Trust and Consequence

I’ve been tinkering with an idea about trust, and its relation to organized religions and other socially insular groups. Trust between individuals, I felt, was bolstered by a mutual, implicit commitment to some set of prescribed moral rules. However, it struck me yesterday that in commerce a similar sort of thing has occurred: cooperative trade is made trustworthy not because the transacting individuals demonstrate mutual trust in some moral code, but instead they trust in a set of social and legal rules which carry clear, punitive outcomes. Cash can be seen to aid this trust because it is something which people trading in it mutually believe in – the value of money.

The punitive measures in this framework are clearly motivated by the desire to be apparent and utilitarian – not *fair*. We can almost certainly see that preserving the value of money is a public and social good with high worth to any individual in possession of a twenty-dollar bill. Yet despite this, carrying out punishment against individuals merely believed to be in violation of the rules governing money may violate the moral principle of treating people only ever as ends. Therefore, I’m not sure I can agree that an institutional arrangement like this one is *subject* to the same moral constraints. An aggregate group of people abiding by a set of rules, thus comprising an institution, may not individually be charged with violating one person’s autonomy when the individual in question has engaged with that *institution* and not merely the individuals.

There’s another idea here that bugs me though. If cash is a kind of social technology, which works to assist cooperation and reduce disputes via trust in a third, intangible party (as religious dogma does), by what means can we leverage this technology in other areas of interpersonal activity? Indisputably criminal activities, such as unwarranted violence against one’s neighbor, might be a violation of the victim’s trust in the perpetrator – but this can only be true where the victim and perpetrator know one another. If the victim knows the perpetrator, but not vice-versa, then the criminal can be easily seen as violating the mutual rules which these two abide by, and in this case the *institutional* trust only fades if the consequences that institution mandates – the punishment – is not carried out. If however, the victim does *not* know the perpetrator, regardless of the perpetrator’s knowledge, then this abuses the victim’s trust in the *institution*.

Thus, rule-mandating institutions serve to offload the resentment one might feel against criminals when they act against one’s own person, to the institution itself. For trade of objects, money is mistrusted when it can be easily stolen. For interpersonal violence, people are mistrusted when the courts are unable or unwilling to punish offenders. Seeing the point as the preservation of trust makes it clear why we must also do all in our power to avoid punishing innocents, or allow the value of money to fluctuate wildly — either would disabuse members of their trust in their respective institutions.

Does religion accomplish the same offloading of resentment for interpersonal violations among members of that group? I think it does, and does so even more clearly when there exists any conflict between the expected consequences mandated by a religious rule, and the consequences afforded by the legal rule. Trust in one or the other on this point is, perhaps, not merely contrary, but contradictory — a zero-sum game for hearts and minds.

Notes on Riga – Concepts and Perceptions

Reference: Mental Representation

Ok. So. Concepts are taken to be images or representations, and the argument is whether they influence our sensory perceptions or not, and to what extent.

Perceptions are taken to be representational, but then the question is “representational of what?” (all representational states have their content in virtue of their phenomenal features -2012 Pitt, David SEP “Mental Representation”)

I’ve been thinking of it all along in the reverse: that all perceptions are conceptual. I.e., that all images, ideas, impressions and sensorily states are token instances of the type “mental state.” In this view, concepts are always inert. This is probably a view I’ve favored because of its easy one-to-one mapping onto a computational explanation of how concepts can manipulate and drive behavior*. But this presupposes that if there is phenomenality, then there is a perception had – which perhaps conflates perceptual experience and perceptual judgment. Moreover, if there is any phenomenality, I’ve come to assume that it expresses the “activation” of the relevant concept (again, just a token of a possible mental state). Thus the view requires that there be a concept to be had the first place, which baldly contradicts the accepted tradition.

That is, I see concepts as being implicitly representational, if in use – but only some concepts in use are privileged to be phenomenal. It’s in this respect that I believe we can find a necessary condition for phenomenal states to penetrate our concepts. My condition for a concept to be phenomenally penetrable is that in a process of concepts representing one another, there must be an exclusive disjunction of possibly represented states which succeed the representing concept in that process.

The requirement of an exclusive disjunction is what leads me to favor sorts of explanations about our perceptions and experiences which incorporate Bayesian procedures in their operation.

Yet, seeing how I can only really claim this by turning tradition on its head, I have to ask myself if this could really be a good way to see things, or if instead I’ve made some horrible mistake. On the plus side, I now know I was making a definite mistake in how I believed other philosophers understood the problem.

I kind of wish I could rewind and replay the entire conference now.

* I’ll need to revisit Sheldon’s proposed changes to the File Model, given all this.

School Blather: Identity


I haven’t been filling out this blog much after setting it up primarily because I’ve been occupied with schoolwork. This past February I started in on my MA work for the Open U and it’s been rough going. I’d love to imagine myself somewhat skilled at this, but it’s been so long now since I’ve done any schoolwork that I find myself struggling to write again. First paper only netted a “high pass 3″, which I still haven’t been able to compare to anything from the letter-grading system I’m accustomed to from CU.

Apparently I’m terrible at writing now.

The current subject in class is on identity, with regards to Parfit, Swinburne, and Wiggins, and left me a little loopy. It’s becoming hard to extract my own thoughts on the matter from the discussion progressing through the course’s reading list. So much so that I’m not even sure what to write on the side, if anything at all. There doesn’t seem to be anything I can reasonably contribute to the discussion: a spare attempt to regard the whole problem in set-theoretical terms was shot down by the tutor, which was the only way I’d managed to get a stable ground for viewing the problem from.

At the end of Johnston’s paper is a discussion of “social continuers.” I’m thinking this use of “personas” is the way to go, but how to get there from Swinburne of all people?

Internal Speech and God


I have a severe issue with what appears to be the overriding principle of Atheism as I’ve often heard it stated. My issue is that, given what people say God is, they profess that people who believe in their own characterization are wrong to believe that there’s an object of which they speak, and that’s the end of it. It’s primarily that the arguments of atheism tend to rely on a straw God that I take issue with, because if atheists had spent any amount of time respecting the people with whom they disagree, they would immediately see that there’s a far more vital problem with arguments “for” the existence of God: no one agrees wholly on what God is. This is often the case even among adherents of the same faith, within the same church, and even within the same family. They may all agree on ‘who’ God is (Yahweh, Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, etc), and there are certainly overlaps in some of the roles God plays in their understanding of how the world fits together, but the powers, preferences, and essential character of God is perpetually under dispute.

In spite of this overwhelming problem with common understanding, most adherents manage to gloss over their differences in respect of their neighbors and in the pursuit of peace (within bounds). Yet proponents of atheism struggle to break that gloss and shake their neighbors into understanding the truth that their convictions hold dear, first the explicit proposition that there is no God, but more importantly to the cause of atheism, the second implicit claim that to perpetuate a false belief is immoral. For the former, atheism fails in its arguments precisely because it cannot hope to identify what doesn’t exist, if the catchword “God” for each person is different. This isn’t the same sort of argument as “you cannot prove Abraham Lincoln didn’t exist” or similar formulae that get easily tossed into the shouting matches that appear to typify the fights between adherents and atheists. I am instead raising that point that one cannot capture in one sense of “God” everything that people claim the word refers to, and summarily reject them all. One can only try to identify the sorts of powers or characters which people ascribe to one or more conceptions of God and treat those accordingly. Omniscience, Omnipotence, and similar characteristics which people commonly hold belong to God are perhaps themselves targets for refutation, but then one would still have to answer those adherents who cling to universal immanence, or forms of strict determinism.

For the latter claim, that to perpetuate false beliefs is inherently immoral, is implicitly expressed in the other sort of argument that I often hear repeated in the vain hope that it will sway adherents based on the sort of reasoning that defeats the first proposition. Namely, that as any given adherent may not believe in Thor, or Zeus, or Horus, or Ba’al any more than they would believe in Santa, then an atheist can easily extend this logic to apply to Yahweh, or Jesus, or Allah, or Vishnu. The substantive reason to point to for atheists in this argument is that as an adherent would view belief in any former deity as false and presumably immoral, then the atheist has avoided committing the same sin by choosing to reject belief in God as well. Yet, if this is the point which an atheist chooses to pursue, she will find it self-defeating. No one agrees on the conception of God, therefore there remains the possibility that one characterization can be correct where others are not, and if this is the case, then perpetuating the potentially false belief of atheism is on par with a belief in the incorrect deity — and so the atheist commits the same sin they implicate believers in.

This is, of course, on the whole both unsatisfying and uncharitable. I for one refuse to believe that well-meaning people who are committed to understanding the truth about the nature of ourselves, the world, and the relations that hold between them could be misled by a trivial untruth, and whether or not any such tremendously wide collection of claims could be judged equal by all is trivially -obviously- untrue. Instead, I believe that there must be some mistake which people can easily make, and as result often do, which leads not to a mistaken belief in God per se, but instead leads to a set of mistaken set of beliefs in general. Furthermore, I’m of the opinion that this mistake is what leads to the more outrageous sorts of claims regarding the character of God which atheists react to, and which many (but not all) commit themselves in summarily rejecting all religious adherence as vicious or immoral.

The mistake I speak of is one that any one of us can fall into without correction: that we ourselves may act as a valid authority on all knowledge- or more perniciously, that it is even the case that when we speak internally, as in when attempting to remember even the simplest of objects. It comes down to the way you think, when you recall facts. We all have an internal voice. It may be the one which you’re reading these words with. The pernicious mistake one can make lies in which pronoun one uses when speaking internally to oneself.

“Where did I leave my car keys this morning?”

“Where did you leave your car keys this morning?”

When using an internal voice, both are valid, but they carry with them severely distinct frames of mind. Are you speaking of yourself? Or to yourself? Or as yourself? Is it even possible that all the many thoughts which occur in your brain have you as their source? What frame of mind does each engender? Which frame of mind links agency to cognition?

My proposition is simple: there are some people who confuse the use of the pronoun you in their internal speech of this nature, with the object that it may refer to and its source, and think of the latter indiscriminately as a source of authority. Some may feel the authority is God. Others may simply take themselves as the authority, but then presume that the object of their pronoun is separate from themselves. Others practiced in prayer may, perhaps always assume that when they speak internally in the second-person frame of mind, that the outwards cast of the phrase you are means that they are addressing God, and so imperative statements held internally or any shift in mood or thought are a form of answer.

In all cases of adherence, what is being implicitly assumed is that to believe in God is to believe that there is another which shares in or is spectator of one’s own consciousness. Thanks to modern neuroscience, we know that this is a far from a trivially true or untrue fact. This I hope also reveals to some extent what the real stakes are for atheists who wish to persist in claiming on behalf of adherents that God does not exist: they are naming and denying that which each person lives with most vitally and leans on to direct themselves. Atheists are denying not the agency of adherents, but the reins by which adherents lead it. Moreover, atheists deny without realization that there is value and meaning to the belief that one is not alone in one’s own skull. Even the limited extent of modern neuroscience tells us clearly that this cannot be true. To interpret our understanding of consciousness to deny that our minds can be a veritable parliament of actors must allow the apparent unity of consciousness to be irreducible to its parts, and that view is well mapped, and called dualism.

Searle’s Chinese Room Experiment

Another entry from the I-already-posted-this-on-Stack-Exchange Dept. It’s rare that I can be clear about a subject, so I wanted to record this for my ego’s benefit.

Does Searle’s Chinese Room model computers correctly?

Searle invented a thought experiment, the Chinese Room, which he proposes is an argument against Strong AI (that machines think) but not against Weak AI (that machines simulate thinking), he has a man in a room manipulating chinese symbols via an instruction book written in english.

My question is, Where does this instruction book come from? We’re all aware that humans write the code that drives a computer, or writes code that writes more code to drive a computer (ie a compiler) etc.

My clarification (that is, if it is), of Searle’s Chinese Room thought experiment, is to have a man (John) who doesn’t understand Chinese in a room with two windows. At one window, someone (Mai) submits questions in Chinese, at the other window stands a man (Lao) who does understand Chinese; when a question is submitted, John takes the question walks across the room, and passes it through the window, and gives it to Lao, who reads it, answers it, and then John walks back to the first window, and hands the answer back to the Mai.

To Mai, it appears John understands Chinese (even, if he rather strangely refuses to speak it). She is not aware that he has a secret human collaborator, Lao.

I think this models what actually happens in a computer, much more clearly. But am I right?

My Answer:

I’m very familiar with the argument John makes with his Chinese Room argument, and he’s extremely consistent about what he means it to portray: that our concept of what it means to understand language is mistaken when we try to apply the term to any machine which operates only syntactically. It’s primarily a refutation of the notion that a Turing Test is sufficient to claim that a conscious understanding is present.

As a system administrator by day, and an aspiring philosophy student by night, I can with full confidence tell you that yes, John Searle is correct when he claims that computers operate purely syntactically. All they do is manipulate symbols, and we still require a human agent to imbue those symbols with meaning. Still, the realization that syntax alone can have such incredible power is the great lesson of our age.

The problem with the example you gave above is that it sidesteps the very point of the reductio that the Chinese Room makes.

In the original example, Mai would submit her answer to a great big box, and receives intelligible responses from this box (whose occupant she’s agnostic of) in a reasonably rapid amount of time. From Mai’s perspective then, the box has passed the Turing Test- Mai believes she’s been understood by a conscious being. On John’s side of it, he has a set of drawers which contain all sorts of responses and phrases for different questions, and the guidebook he carries simply directs him to an appropriate drawer based on the Chinese message he receives.

The intuition Searle latches on to here is that John doesn’t understand Chinese, so Mai’s belief that her words are being understood by a conscious being must be wrong. Trying to replay the thought experiment with Lao playing the role of the conscious, understanding responder thus just circumvents the whole argument without addressing the problem it presents.

There’s plenty of deep disgreements to be had at this point: we could defend Mai by claiming that John+Box+guidebook together make a system which understands Chinese, for instance. Searle himself denies this position is coherent, but not everyone buys his opinion. There’s also the issue Daniel Dennett raises, that Searle makes a category mistake when using the word “understanding”. In Dennett’s view, semantics are unnecessary to understanding language, and syntactic operations are all that there is to explain consciousness.

You could also try leveling the charge that Searle’s mistake is in thinking that there could even be a set of rules which a living language such as Chinese could be reduced to. This argument however has the consequence that it denies any possibility that a Turing Test could ever succeed. As a result, leveling this charge requires that you already agree with the results of the thought experiment: that rule-following alone cannot account for our normative understanding of what constitutes “understanding”.


First Principles – What’s Wrong With Liberalism?

In this interesting result to my search for “Why is Liberalism Wrong?” Ryszard Legutko presents a straw man named Liberalism and proceeds to attack it. There’s a good point made about separating the goals of egalitarianism from liberalism, but otherwise I have a sneaking suspicion that his aim is directed at an apparition of his own design.

First Principles – What’s Wrong With Liberalism?.

No intuitions no relativism » 3:AM Magazine

HC: To get into issues in philosophy of language, one can never read Kripke’s Naming and Necessity enough. It’s written the way philosophy should be written: it’s clear, it has beautiful arguments, it’s original, it’s deep, and it’s almost entirely true. It’s just about as good as it gets. Other classics that one should spend a lot of time on include the work of Paul Grice, in particular his paper Logic and Conversation. I’m currently finishing a book focused in large part on the kinds of issues discussed by John Perry in his collection the Essential Indexical – that is very important and inspiring material. Much of my recent work also engages with some of David Lewis work, but I’m reluctant to suggest that as introductory reading. Lewis is a superb and seductive stylist, but his views are almost always very wrong and it takes hard work to see why. So, Lewis is dangerous reading.

via No intuitions no relativism » 3:AM Magazine.

Aachari Murgh (Pickle-Style Chicken)

Murgh Aachari: Recipe Expliciter

Aachari Powder

Amount Substance Acceptable Replacements
1 tsp cumin seeds ground cumin seeds
1 tsp Fennel Seeds ground fennel seeds
1 tsp chili powder no substitute
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds brown mustard seeds, or even a good dijon mustard
1 tsp fenugreek seeds no substitute
1 tsp turmeric no substitute
1 tsp nigella seeds no substitute. These are sometimes referred to as ‘onion seeds’ in the US.
Use a blender or mill to pulverize the dry ingredients until they’re a fine powder.

Curry Base

Amount Substance Acceptable Replacements
5 tbls mustard oil no substitute
1/2 tsp salt never substitute
1 lemon lemon juice lime can be used as an alternative.
2 peppers red thai peppers two large chili peppers can do well in place of thai peppers.
1/2 inch cube fresh ginger 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 head (4 cloves) fresh garlic 1 tsp garlic powder
1-2 whole (≈250 gr) sliced or diced onion critical
1-2 whole (≈250 gr) peeled or canned tomatoes critical
1 lbs. (1/2 kg) chicken breast, cubed can substitute whole wings, or small pieces of chicken with skin.
Heat a large pan. Fry the onions in mustard oil until slightly translucent, then add garlic, ginger, and chopped peppers. When garlic starts to brown, add Aachari Powder and fry approximately one-two minutes. Add tomatoes, cook a little longer until hot, and then blend the whole mixture until smooth. Add salt to curry blend and set aside. Brown the chicken in mustard oil and then add the curry blend. Let simmer for 1/2 hour, then add lemon juice. Let cool on the stove until warm, and serve over basmati rice.

Goan Vindaloo

Gravy Ingredients

Amount Substance Acceptable Replacements
2 tsps cumin seeds ground cumin seeds
5 thai peppers dried chili peppers, or 2 habaneros — to taste
1 tsp black peppercorns ground black pepper
1 tsp cardamon seeds ground cardamon
1 1/2 tsps black mustard seeds brown mustard seeds, or even a good dijon mustard
3 inches cinnamon sticks 1 tbls ground cinnamon
1 tsp fenugreek seeds skip, if unavailable
5 tbls white wine cooking vinegar 1 tsp 25% vinegar + 4 tsps water
1 tsp salt critical
1 tsp brown sugar unknown. maple syrup, white sugar?
Use a blender or mill to pulverize the dry ingredients. When you have a rough powder, mix the liquid ingredients in and set aside.

Curry Ingredients

Amount Substance Acceptable Replacements
1 inch cube fresh ginger 1 tbls ground ginger
1 head fresh garlic approximately 6-7 cloves, or ? tsps ground
1 tbls ground coriander seeds critical
1 tsp turmeric critical
Use a blender to puree the ginger and garlic with 2-3 tablespoons of water. Set the puree aside, and also mix and set aside the coriander and turmeric.

Fried Ingredients

Amount Substance Acceptable Replacements
3-4 cups diced onion critical
2 lbs. fatty pork for best results, any piece with a solid layer of fat
In a wide-bottomed pot, sautee (fry) the onions in 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil. Cut the pork into small cubes, being sure to leave the fat attached to the meat whenever possible. When the onions are beginning to turn brown, replace them with the pork. While the pork begins to brown, puree the onions with 2-3 tablespoons of water and mix this with the gravy ingredients. Set the finished gravy aside. When the pork is browned, remove it from the pot and replace it with the curry puree. When this is hot, add the dry curry mixture of coriander and turmeric, stir, and then throw in the pork and the finished gravy. Bring this to a boil, and then turn down the heat and simmer for one hour. Serve over basmati rice.