I love me a good vindaloo. Vindaloo is always spicy, but I like it really spicy: make me cry, but give me a flavor profile beyond just “hot,” and I’ll call it a success. I can rarely get vindaloo spicy enough in Indian restaurants (I suppose I can’t blame them when they look dubiously at my pale, freckled face and fuzzy red head, ordering my vindaloo “really spicy.” They just assume that I am not used to “Indian-spicy.” Little do they know!). But the nice thing about making vindaloo at home is: you can control the heat level and make it as spicy, or mild, as you want.
This recipe is hardly authentic. I’ve used a prepared spice packet from Penzey’s to which, essentially, you add water, onions, chicken and potatoes. Voila! Vindaloo. So, no, it’s not the best vindaloo I’ve ever had, but it is quick to throw together, easy on the budget, great for using up leftover roasted chicken or turkey, and actually quite tasty. Pick up some vindaloo mix next time you go to your favorite spice merchant and give it a whirl.
Adapted from the Penzey’s recipe on the Vindaloo spice package.
- 1/2 cup Penzey’s Vindaloo seasoning (coriander, garlic, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, mustard, cayenne pepper, jalapeño, cardamom, tumeric, black pepper, cloves; the 4 oz bag will make 3 to 4 batches of vindaloo)
- 1 tsp (or more) ground cayenne pepper
- 1 cup water, divided
- 1/2 cup cider vinegar
- about 4 tbsp grease, lard or vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs), cubed (alternatively use leftover, cooked chicken meat: see turkey vindaloo for instructions)
- 2 (more or less) hot green chiles, finely chopped (fresh or frozen: include seeds for more heat, or reserve to adjust during cooking)
- 9 (more or less) dried red chiles, stemmed, with seeds or without
- 2 lbs potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 cup chicken stock
- salt, to taste
- cooked rice, for serving
- fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Using a fork, mix vindaloo seasoning and cayenne pepper with 1/2 cup water to form a paste.
- Heat 3 tbsp grease or oil in a Dutch oven or medium stockpot over medium heat until shimmering. Sauté onions over low heat until softened and browned, about 20 – 30 minutes (the longer you caramelize the onions, the richer color & flavor you’ll add to your vindaloo sauce).
- Transfer onions to the bowl of a food processor. Add vindaloo paste and cider vinegar; blend well, adding water to thin if necessary, until you achieve a uniform sauce.
- Heat additional grease or oil in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add cubed chicken (do not crowd the pot: do this in batches if necessary) and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is just browned, but not cooked through. Add fresh chiles and sauté for 2 – 3 minutes until softened. Add dry chiles and sauté for 1 minute. Add potatoes, stock, remaining 1/2 cup water, and vindaloo sauce. Mix well and bring to a simmer; reduce heat to very low and simmer, covered, until the potatoes are tender, about 30 – 45 minutes. Remove lid for the last 5 – 10 minutes of cooking if you need to thicken the sauce a bit (or add water to thin). Taste and adjust salt or spice. Serve hot over rice, garnished with fresh cilantro. Naan, yogurt, and sliced cucumbers are nice accompaniments that help to tame the heat.
Yields 4 – 6 servings.
- This recipe, as written, makes a nicely hot vindaloo: definitely not for the faint of heart, but not tear-inducing for me. You can easily adjust the amount of heat by increasing or decreasing the cayenne pepper and/or seeds in the fresh or dried chiles.
- Pork, beef or turkey can be easily substituted for chicken. For a vegetarian version you could try firm tofu or cauliflower.
This will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Like all stews, it will thicken and become spicier as it sits.