Vindaloo is a hot and spicy dish from the Goa region of India. Its heavy use of vinegar and the traditional meat of pork are due to the Portuguese influence on the area. Vindaloo is a popular Indian restaurant meal, where it is often made with pork, beef, chicken, lamb, prawns, or vegetables such as mushrooms.
There are many variations of the vindaloo recipe. Some derivatives use potato, or vary the amounts and types of spices used. Goans scoff at the usage of any other main ingredient besides high fat content pork in vindaloo, because the flavor is very different when prepared with a main ingredient other than pork. Authentic Goan vindaloo is not a curry but more of a dry sauce-based dish, which tastes better as it ages. The authentic taste of vindaloo comes from a unique blend of the fat in the pork, the garlic, vinegar, jaggery and kashmiri chili (this specific spice is very flavorful but not too pungent).
Vindaloo is often served with rice, chappatis, naan bread, or a combination of these. It can also be served with assorted pickles, such as aubergine or lime pickle. Given the spicy nature of the dish, it goes particularly well with raita.
- 3 chicken breast fillets
- 2-3 large onions
- 2 fresh chili peppers (I use 2 red and 1 green)
- 6 cloves of garlic (or 6 tsp minced)
- 2cm cube of ginger (if you don't have fresh ginger use 2 cloves garlic + 1 tsp dried ginger powder)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 tbs white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp dried coriander powder
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 0.5 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1.5 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 0.5 tsp rock salt
- 1 tbl chopped fresh coriander leaves
- half a cup of water
- Make the onion sauce
- Take a thick-based frying pan, and pour into it enough vegetable oil to cover the base, with a little excess. Heat on a stovetop.
- Slice the onions into fairly thin slivers. When the oil is very hot, add the onions.
- Turn the stove down to a low heat, so the onions just gently sauté. After around 3 minutes they should be starting to caramelize.
- Gradually turn up the heat and keep stirring the onions. You want them to brown quite heavily without burning.
- Add the white wine vinegar, it will sizzle, and after a while will evaporate. Keep stirring. Fry for several more minutes, until they are very brown, but not burnt.
- Remove the onions from the pan into a bowl, taking care to let as much oil as possible drip back into the pan. You should now have a bowl of nicely crisped fried onions.
- Add the onions to a blender or food processor. Add around 1 tablespoon of oil, and process for around a minute until you have a fairly thick, dark brown sauce. This is the basic onion sauce from which vindaloo is made. It's also the onion sauce that gives the vindaloo the majority of its 'hot' taste, as it builds up as you eat the dish.
- Remove sauce from blender and set aside.
- Make the garlic/chili paste
- Coarsely chop the garlic cloves (and ginger if you're using it). De-seed the chili peppers and chop in the same way. Add the chopped garlic and chillies to the food processor.
- Blend the garlic and chillies until you have a fairly grainy (but liquid) sauce. For this I used an attachment on my blender which is intended to grind coffee beans. It has a much smaller container and so there's less waste.
- Add the turmeric, coriander powder, garam masala and cinnamon to the sauce. Stir it until it's well mixed, and set aside.
- Gently crush the black peppercorns in a mortar and pestle. Once coarse, add the mustard seed and rock salt. Continue blending until all the spices form a nice coarse powder.
- Cook the paste and meat
- Pour a little oil into a saucepan. Add the spiced garlic and chili paste to the pan. It needs to be slightly floating on oil, not touching the bottom of the pan.
- When the sauce is quite hot and bubbling, add the chopped meat. Keep stirring so the meat absorbs the spice mix, until it is browned and mostly cooked.
- Add onion sauce and simmer
- Now add the onion sauce to the pan. After stirring for 1 minute, add a little water and stir for another 2 minutes, then turn the heat to quite low. The sauce at this stage should be quite runny, and orange/tan in color. Remember a lot is going to evaporate off as it cooks.
- At this stage you can add some vegetables. Half a cup of frozen peas works well.
- Place a lid over the pan, and cook for around 30-40 minutes. Keep checking and stirring the pan every 5 or 10 minutes to make sure it doesn't stick or burn.The sauce will darken in color as it cooks.
- Towards the last 15 minutes of cooking time, boil 2 cups of pilau, or basmati rice in a pan.
- To serve- spoon the curry over the top of the rice. Sprinkle the chopped coriander leaves over the curry, and serve immediately.
Notes, tips and variations
- Powdered or dried ingredients can be substituted for fresh, but at the expense of taste.
To cook a more intensely spiced but still field tested variation of this recipe consider the following modifications:
- Double the amount of each of these ingredients:
- chosen chilies (if you like very spicy curry)
- garam masala (if you like very spicy curry)
- black pepper
- black mustard seeds
- coriander leaves
- Cook the onion sauce mixture and the meat-and-paste mixture until they are very nearly burned (consider a non stick pan for this).