Turkey Vindaloo

New World bird meets Old World spice: film @ 11.

Well, it’s not the most attrative dish I’ve ever made. It certainly isn’t authentic; while turkey is common in the Americas and Europe, it’s a rarity in India, and I’m pretty sure they aren’t making vindaloo with pre-made spice packets from Penzeys. Despite those knocks against it, this dish was simple to prepare, easy on the wallet (helpful in these holiday-cash-strapped times), satisfyingly filling, and warming, for a nippy December night, and a great use for the last, lingering bits of leftover Thanksgiving turkey.

I’ve refined my easy vindaloo recipe somewhat since last year: now I caramelize onions and blend them with the vindaloo paste to make a richer, more delicious sauce, that looks and tastes closer to an authentic vindaloo. Adding this step is definitely worth it. Using cooked turkey leftovers eliminates the need to brown the meat and yields a thick stew with meltingly tender shreds of meat throughout. The potatoes and cauliflower stretch the batch to cover several meals, making this spicy, yummy stew a no-brainer for the not-enough-hours-in-the-day holiday season.


Turkey Vindaloo


  • 1/2 cup Penzey’s Vindaloo seasoning (coriander, garlic, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, mustard, cayenne pepper, jalapeno, cardamom, tumeric, black pepper, cloves; the 4 oz bag will make 3 to 4 batches of vindaloo)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 and 1/2 cups filtered water, divided
  • about 4 tbsp bacon grease or grapeseed or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 medium head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 2 lbs potatoes, scrubbed, peeled, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1  lb cooked turkey meat, skinned and shredded or cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • basmati rice for serving
  • fresh cilantro for garnish


  1. Using a fork, mix vindaloo seasoning and cayenne pepper with 1/2 cup water to form a paste.
  2. Heat 2 – 3 tbsp bacon grease in a Dutch oven or medium stockpot over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Saute onions over low heat until softened and browned, about 15 – 20 minutes (the longer you caramelize the onions, the richer color & flavor you’ll add to your vindaloo sauce).
  3. 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.
  4. Heat additional grease or oil in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower and saute for 2 – 3 minutes until just beginning to brown. Add potatoes, 1 cup water, vindaloo sauce, turkey and salt.  Mix well and bring to a simmer; reduce heat 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). Serve hot over rice, garnished with fresh cilantro or parsley.  Naan, yogurt, sliced bell pepper, carrots, radishes or celery are nice accompaniments that help to tame the heat.

Yields 6 -8 servings. 


  1. This recipe is not incredibly spicy, as vindaloos go (I was shooting for edible this time!). Spicy enough to warm you up, but I was not crying. For added spice, increase the amount of cayenne pepper, or add some jalapeno or habanero chiles to the onion-vindaloo sauce.
  2. Cooked chicken, pork, beef or lamb can be easily substituted for turkey. The cooked meat shreds as it stews and would make a fabulous taco/burrito filling.  For a vegetarian version simply omit the meat (and bacon grease, of course) or consider adding firm tofu.


This will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.  It will thicken and become spicier as it sits.


Year round.

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