Okay guys, I know.. I talk a lot about my Indian food obsession, but have only posted like 3 recipes on the blog (here, here, and here). But never fear- today I am returning to the source of my culinary obsession.
Unlike many food bloggers I was never much of a chef growing up. I thought it seemed annoying and restaurants always seemed to make food better. The extent of my “cooking” experience was sitting in the kitchen and gossiping with my mom while she made cookies. But then, being a creative person and also a poor college student, I decided cooking might be a useful item to add to my life-skills repertoire.
And then I discovered Indian food, and life was never quite the same.
I’m not going to lie- it took me a while to “figure out” Indian food. A) The method is totally different than most American/European food. B) It takes a decent commitment and some amount of start-up capital to acquire all the right spices. BUT if you are at all thinking this (Indian cooking) might be something you want to do in your life on repeat- please please please skip the regular grocery store spice aisle and get yourself over to the nearest Indian store. I promise you will get way better spices, for cheaper, and be able to actually acquire the right stuff.
Don’t waste your money at Penzeys or similar… it’s just not worth it. And you just won’t be able to get methi seeds at Ralphs. Sorry, guys.
One thing I’ve learned when cooking Indian is that it’s really hard to over-do the spices. But very easy to under-do the spices. So if push comes to shove, get a little heavy-handed. The one exception to this being heat- you want to be careful not to kill your dish by adding buckets of cayenne to the base of your curry because once you add it, you can never go back. BUT don’t be afraid of kashmiri chili powder. This adds a ton of color and flavor but not a lot of heat. And yes, please buy Kashmiri chili powder, this is the best variety in my opinion.So let’s talk method- the base of most curries is some amount of onion, ginger, garlic, and maybe some tomato. This combo of ingredients is typically cooked down to a paste-like consistency and then the masala (spices) are added. Then typically one adds the meat that one is using, some amount of water, and simmer until the meat is tender and the flavors are well-combined. Indian cuisine is like the king of slow-cooking. This particular dish is Chicken Vindaloo. Vindaloo is actually fairly unique because it’s not exactly Indian in origin… at least the name is not. It’s actually a fusion dish that has roots from the Portuguese. The “Vin” in the name Vindaloo stands for wine, of which there is none, but typically there is some type of wine-vinegar- hence the name. Also Aloo in the name does not stand for “potato” as I assumed (potato in Hindi is Aloo).. it’s actually a reference to a Portuguese spice-blend. The Portuguese settled Goa, and thus an Indian-fusion classic was born.. using the spices of the east with the methods of the west. Vindaloo has a reputation for being an unbearably spicy dish. Goa is known for having incredibly spicy food. People who love capsaicin can’t stay away from vindaloo. I personally don’t like to abuse my mouth in this way so my recipe is on the medium-heat side. If you want it spicier, throw in more chile peppers. If you prefer a mild dish, cut back a little on the black peppercorns in the spice blend, and you can omit the green chiles. But o.m.g. the flavor of this curry is awesome. You will love this one, I promise.
- 1 tbsp whole peppercorns
- 1 tbsp yellow mustard seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 1” cinnamon stick
- 4 tbsp kashmiri chili powder
- ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 16 cloves of garlic
- 1 3” piece of ginger- cut into 2 pieces
- 2 lbs boneless chicken breast or thighs, chopped into bite sized pieces
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 large spanish onions finely chopped
- 2 serrano chiles stemmed, seeded, and minced (plus more for garnish)
- ½ lb small yukon gold potatoes cut into quarters
- Salt to taste
- In a large skillet toast whole spices over medium heat. Stir constantly to avoid burning. Once cumin seeds begin to pop and mixture becomes fragrant, transfer to small bowl to cool. Once cool, grind whole spices in a spice grinder until fine.
- In a blender combine ground spice mixture with chili powder, turmeric, 1 tsp of brown sugar, 8 cloves of garlic, ½ ginger, and ¼ cup of vinegar. Pour in ½ cup of water. Blend until smooth. Scrape down sides of blender as needed.
- Pour mixture over the chicken pieces and marinate in refrigerator for at least 1 hour, and up to 24 hours.
- Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onions and saute for 25 minutes, or until very softened and golden brown. Meanwhile, grate the remaining 8 cloves of garlic and remaining ginger using a microplane grater. Mince chiles until fine. Add garlic, ginger, and chiles to onion mixture and saute an additional 5 minutes.
- To onion mixture, add potatoes, chicken, and any remaining marinade, and 2 cups of water. Stir until combined.
- Bring mixture to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes.
- Uncover and boil mixture for an additional 10 minutes, or until sauce is reduced to your liking.
- Stir in 1 tsp brown sugar, additional 2 tbsp of vinegar, and salt to taste.
- Garnish with sliced chiles.