Marks Daily Apple
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5 Apr

Chicken Vindaloo

Chicken VindalooChicken 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.

Servings: 4

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.

Toast Spices

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.

Simmer Chicken

Remove the chicken from the pan and turn the heat up a little, boiling the liquid for 5 minutes so the sauce thickens some.

Chicken Vindaloo

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. Thank you for writing “riced cauliflower” instead of “cauliflower rice.”

    Harry Mossman wrote on April 5th, 2014
    • +1

      Annabelle wrote on April 6th, 2014
  2. I am a lazy & impatient cook, and when I see more than say 5 ingredients I usually dismiss a recipe, even if most of the ingredients are spices. I’m thinking of trying this, though, by eliminating the dry spices and using Vindaloo Curry Powder from Penzey’s Spices instead. They have 9 different curry powders. I’ve tried a few and they are wonderful but haven’t gotten to the Vindaloo yet.

    Ellen wrote on April 5th, 2014
    • Ellen,
      I am with you. I spend a fortune on all these ingredients just to make one dish for one person. I end up with things I might not use again. Very frustrating to cook for one.

      Tiff wrote on April 5th, 2014
      • They can all be used for other dishes very easily!

        Zach rusk wrote on April 6th, 2014
    • I can highly recommend the Penzey’s vindaloo powder. Even a tablespoon of it gives your dish a great flavor. As a rule I use two tablespoons but you can use more depending on how much heat you like (and there is heat!).

      Trish wrote on April 8th, 2014
  3. I cook a lot of Indian dishes, and am always on the lookout for new recipes. This looks like a good basic (ie. tweak-able to suit one’s tastes) one for a Vindaloo of any kind of meat, as the preamble mentions.

    Many people believe that all indian food is fiercely hot/spicy, and this is simply not the case. Being such a large country, containing wildly-differing geographic regions and historically diverse populations within it – it only makes sense that it also features a wide range of palates and food preparation styles. Most westerners (especially North Americans) have only experienced one type of Indian cuisine.

    It’s like the mental image of generic “Chinese food” that pops into one’s head at the mention of it; yet the diversity and range of what could realistically be considered “Chinese food” is staggering for most North Americans to imagine, simply because China is so vast, and contains such a diverse range of populations.

    hungry Canadian wrote on April 5th, 2014
  4. I feel cooking up sauces like this and putting into something like a blendtec makes a world of difference. Made a tikka last night! Very similar.

    Dr. Anthony Gustin wrote on April 5th, 2014
  5. I LOVE Vindaloo… actually, I have not met a curry I do not like (I think it is the Brit in me)… am doing a chicken curry for dinner – was planning on a Korma, but I may have to spice it up a little and vindaloo it….

    salixisme wrote on April 5th, 2014
  6. This looks really good. I was turned off to Indian food when I went to India and was basically fed all vegetarian meals….it was not good…

    Stephen wrote on April 5th, 2014
  7. I’ve been trying so many new recipes since going primal and this looks like another I just have to try. Thank you for posting these recipes!

    Toni wrote on April 5th, 2014
  8. I thought that vindaloo involved small amounts of heat from each of rather more different spices than we’re seeing here, at the very least including cardamom, adding up to a respectable total burn from very diverse sources. Also onions that are almost deep-fried. Also fatty pork. I could be wrong: I’m American and my ancestors are from various bits of Eastern Europe. Anyway, seems a reasonable recipe to try.

    Mark. wrote on April 5th, 2014
  9. Indian dishes are so drool worthy, I wish it weren’t midnight right now!

    Dan wrote on April 6th, 2014
  10. Thanks for giving the recipes in grams, too!

    Cle wrote on April 6th, 2014
  11. It’s my first time hearing of Vindaloo, I will be sure to try this tonight :-)

    Thank you for sharing and using gramms (Y)

    John Harris wrote on April 6th, 2014
  12. We have several Indian dishes per month, but we tend to be stuck on the same ones, like Chicken Tikka, various dahls, and Tandoori chicken.

    I like vindaloo at the restaurant, and this one seems doable, even with toddlers running around, as long as you have a Saturday or Sunday afternoon to prepare.

    C L Deards wrote on April 7th, 2014
  13. I want to try this with lamb

    Jack Lea Mason wrote on April 7th, 2014
  14. Is 1/4c vinegar correct? That does not form a paste.

    CKF wrote on April 8th, 2014
  15. Why the boneless chicken? Where I live most Indian/curry dishes are made with chopped bone-in whole chickens and are slow simmered. In my opinion boneless meats just don’t give the same flavour in stewed dishes.

    Patrice wrote on April 10th, 2014
  16. I made this last week, upped the spice quantities a bit and let it marinate all day. I added some chopped up, nearly past it’s prime, Swiss chard near the end. Curries are a good place to use up those bits and pieces of vegetables languishing in your fridge. Thanks Mark. I like a lot of your recipes but this is the best .

    Ellana wrote on April 14th, 2014
  17. Made this tonight with a few tweaks since we were slightly pressed for time:
    -chicken breast halves with rib meat, whole
    -ground spices instead of grinding the seeds
    -1T vinegar instead of 1/4 cup
    -everything thrown into the pressure cooker with 1 cup of water and cooked on high pressure for 20 minutes.

    Came out deliciously, though my husband and I both agreed that next time, we’ll try adding 1T raisins to add a hint of sweetness with the spice.

    Also, we served this over a bed of greens + oven-baked riced cauliflower from

    Bon apetit!

    drherrst wrote on April 24th, 2014
  18. Hi Mark,
    I made this tonight (marinated for only 1 hour though as I was pressed for time) and it came out really delicious. I made it with whole spices as you instructed. It was a success, thanks a lot!

    Blaze Fielding wrote on May 5th, 2014
  19. Vindaloo is traditionally done with pork because it is a Christian dish. Its actually a colonial portuguese dish, a contraction of Vinha d’alho, which means wine with garlic. I’m sure it would be great with chicken as well though.

    Agustín wrote on May 5th, 2014
  20. Try this with rabbit…

    Lou wrote on August 31st, 2014
  21. I love this recipe. My favourite. Thank you.

    Mark wrote on October 26th, 2014
  22. been looking for a nice recipe of this to try. Thanks for sharing this.


    bristol plasterers wrote on April 7th, 2015

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