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Chicken Vindaloo Recipe

Pork Vindaloo
Chicken Vindaloo with rice
and mango chutney

(Skip the blurb)

I thought I should do my own Chicken Vindaloo recipe Although this is not particularly common in India, chicken vindaloo is something of an institution in the west. Vindaloo originated in Portugal and was imported to Goa when the Portuguese colonised it in the late 15th century. The traditional meat for vindaloo is pork (see my pork vindaloo recipe)

The pork vindaloo recipe has more of the history of the dish if you are interested. I don't usually use chicken for a vindaloo dish as I think the strong flavours can overpower the chicken a little. So this was a bit of a challenge

A traditional chicken vindaloo recipe is quite a long way from the standard Indian takeaway version. In essence it is a sweet and sour dish which is usually also fairly spicy. The sweet and sour nature comes from marinating in vinegar and garlic, the spiciness was added by the Goans, using both black pepper which is native to India and chillis which were brought from the Americas by the Portuguese.

My chicken vindaloo recipe here uses some spices that are essential for a vindaloo, cloves, cinnamon, pepper but also some different ones to complement the chicken.

A good vindaloo needs to be marinated, preferably overnight but for chicken I have found a couple of hours is ok. The result should be a sweet and sour dish and if you want it really hot (it would be in Goa) that's OK you can use lots of chillis; this version is medium hot.

Basic Ingredients

About 1lb (450gms) chicken.
1 large onion.
3-4 cloves garlic.
1 inch (2½cm) root ginger.
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Green chillis.
Coriander leaves
Oil for cooking.

1 teaspoon coriander seeds.
½ teaspoon cumin seeds.
½ teaspoon turmeric.
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon mustard seeds
Seeds from 4 cardamom pods.
8-10 black peppercorns.
3 cloves.
Cinnamon sticks (about 3 inches in total).
2 bay leaves.
Maybe a little salt.

Notes on Ingredients

Chicken. As this is a chicken vindaloo recipe some chicken would be good. Legs and thighs are very tasty but breast fillets are probably easiest to cut up

Onion. Perhaps not strictly traditional, but it adds sweetness and body and I use more in this than in the pork version - Optional.

Oil. The best vindaloo is cooked in mustard oil. Ghee is good. Use good quality rapeseed (canola) or sunflower oil if you must.

Chilli. I use two scotch bonnets but no chilli powder in this as I think this is one of the things that overruns the chicken. This is quite hot but not too alarming. Use more or stronger chillies if you feel the overpowering need to be macho about it. Less is also OK.

Salt. As I say in most recipes, some people have a morbid terror of salt. I would only use about 1/4 teaspoon in this quantity anyway. You can leave it out is you wish but it is an important taste in a classic vindaloo dish and contributes to the preservative qualities of the marinate.

Spices. I use a slightly different set of spices in the chicken version and also treat them slightly differently. As always you can experiment.

Vinegar. I have seen recipes which include every type of vinegar; malt, cider or wine (haven't seen balsamic yet but I'm sure it will happen). I use red wine vinegar in pork and lamb vindaloos and I have even used wine with has started to go off slightly. for chicken vindaloo I think white wine vinegar goes best

Basic Method

Pork Vindaloo in Marinade
Chicken VindalooReady to serve

Heat up a dry frying pan.
Throw in the coriander, cumin, cloves, mustard seeds. fenugreek and peppercorns.
Roast the spices for a minute or so until the coriander seeds just start to change colour.
Grind these spices together with the, bay leaves and salt.
Mash the garlic and the ginger.
Add the spices and the garlic and ginger to the meat and stir well to evenly distribute.
Add the sugar and stir this in.
Put in a non-metallic bowl and pour in enough vinegar to just cover (it should be between 2-4oz).
Leave to marinate.

(Some time later)

Finely chop the onion.
Chop the chicken into cubes.
Finely chop green chillies.
Grind the cinnamon and cardamon seeds
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan - if using mustard oil then it should just start to smoke before cooking.
Toss in the onions, chillies, cinnamon and cardamon and fry until the onions are soft and just starting to brown.
Using a slotted spoon, put the meat from the marinade into the pan and seal stirring constantly.
Add the rest of the marinade.
Stir in the turmeric and reduce the heat.
Cover and simmer over a very low heat for about two hours.
Ten minutes before the end stir in some coriander leaves
Garnish with more coriander leaves and serve

Notes on Method

You can, of course use ground spices instead of grinding your own - make sure they are fresh; ground spices over six months old are as much use as sawdust.

Don't use a metallic bowl for this marinade - it will badly affect the taste (and probably the bowl).

I often use a slow cooker for the simmering stage. If simmering in a pan then you may need to add a little water from time to time to stop it drying out and burning.

This chicken vindaloo recipe is best served with plain boiled rice or aromatic rice and a vegetable dish like aloo bhaji. Sweet chutney like mango is also a good accompaniment. Depending on what other dishes you eat with this, these quantities will serve between 2 and 4 people.

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See also Pork Vindaloo, Lamb Vindaloo and Prawn Vindaloo

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