Chicken vindaloo is an Indian dish that can also be beef, lamb or pork vindaloo, depending what you’re in the mood for. It’s a dish known for being very spicy, but it doesn’t have to be if you make it at home. You can even skip the hot peppers entirely and still have an extremely flavorful dish from the ample amount of onions, ginger, garlic and spices.
The complex flavors in this dish belie the simple preparation and short cooking time. Just blend the spices, marinate, sauté and then simmer for 25 minutes. You’re likely to already have many of the spices in your pantry – cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon – and some versions of chicken vindaloo also add cloves, cardamom, mustard seeds or paprika.
If you’re a fan of Indian food, then chicken vindaloo is easy to love simply because it tastes good. But the best part is that you’re also getting a good dose of spices that contribute to a healthy diet. Spices have some of the highest levels of antioxidants found in any food. Just make sure the spices are fresh and ideally, organic.
Serve chicken vindaloo over roasted or riced cauliflower to soak up the slightly tart, spicy sauce.
Time in the Kitchen: 1 hour, plus time to marinate
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns (5 ml)
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds (10 ml)
- 2 teaspoons coriander seeds (10 ml)
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (2.5 ml)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (2.5 ml)
- 1/4 cup white vinegar (60 ml)
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 1-inch (2.5 cm) pieces of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into strips about 1-inch/2.5 cm wide (900 g)
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil (30 ml)
- 2 yellow onions, finely chopped
- 5 thin green chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced or dried red chile peppers
- 1 head of cauliflower, riced or roasted
Recipe Note: Using whole peppercorns, cumin and coriander seeds give the dish richer, more vibrant flavor. You can, however, substitute the same amount of pre-ground spices.
Toast peppercorns, cumin, and coriander seeds in a skillet over medium-high heat, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes.
Transfer to a spice grinder (coffee grinder) and let cool then process until finely ground.
In food processor or blender, blend the ground spice mixture with the turmeric, cinnamon, vinegar, half the garlic cloves and a 1-inch piece of chopped ginger until a paste forms. Generously season the chicken with salt then rub the chicken down with the paste and marinate 2 to 8 hours.
Heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a wide saucepan and caramelize the onions until soft and browned, about 25 minutes. Add the remaining garlic and ginger and the chiles. Sauté a few minutes then add the chicken and saute a few minutes more. Add 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 25 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pan and turn the heat up a little, boiling the liquid for 5 minutes so the sauce thickens some.