While I mostly wake up to pictures of snow-covered decks and coffee mugs nestled between mittens on my Instagram feed, surprisingly it has started feeling spring-like in here.Spring in January? eh! I know that sounds kind of way too early & weird but its been over a week with temperatures in late 60s and a full sleeve T-shirt is enough to roam around throughout the day.The sky is clear, the air smells crisp & pleasant and I saw many jogging in shorts today at the park.
However, early mornings and evenings are still colder. The winter loving person that I am, I am holding on to the season in my stubborn ways. Which,mostly means cooking warm, spicy foods. For dinner, hiding indoors in the warmth of the house, I am still rustling up slow cooked curries and comfort dishes to keep us nourished.A couple of weeks back, I made this chicken vindaloo, one of the husband's favorite things besides dal. It was a late, cold evening some five years back when we headed to dinner at one of our favorite indian restaurant here, choked with guests, smelling of strong spices and boasting of an elaborate buffet over the long weekend, that his love for all things coconut & curry leaves formed a good part of the conversation. I have been making this red-hot, tangy curry for quite a few years now and it has always hit the right chord with his tastebuds.Vindaloo is something I did not grow eating up but with time I have come up with what we like (and hope you like it too).
Wiki tells me that 'Vindaloo" is derived from the Portuguese dish "carne de vinha d'alhos," a dish of meat, usually pork marinated in wine and garlic.The Portuguese dish brought it to India (Goan region) and slowly it was modified by the substitution of vinegar (usually palm vinegar) for the red wine and the addition of red kashmiri chillies with additional spices to evolve into vindaloo and it became a curry native to indian cuisine. This recipe here is hot and that's why I always use potatoes for those earthly,mellow bites in between. I like to de seed few of the red chillies because I do not want it searing hot, however you can use a mild chili variety.Vindaloo pairs best with steamed rice (as with most coastal cuisine). If you would want to try different meats like lamb or pork (if you want to go the traditional Portuguese route) work in this recipe too.
- 1.5 lb chicken thighs boneless, skinless, cut into 2 inch pieces (You could use bone in chicken too)
- ⅓ cup oil
- 2 medium potatoes peeled and cut into quarters
- 1 cup onions finely chopped
- 6-8 fresh curry leaves
- 1.25 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- ½ teaspoon jaggery powder or use brown sugar
To Make the Spice Paste
- 2 tablespoon vinegar I use rice vinegar
- 10-12 whole dry red Kashmiri chilies broken into small pieces (or use 2.5 teaspoon cayenne powder,adjust to taste)
- 5 cloves laung
- ¼ star anise break the whole flower and use a quarter piece)
- ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 inch cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns about 12-15
- 2-3 tablespoon warm water (or as required)
- 5 garlic cloves roughly chopped
- 2 inch ginger roughly chopped
- 1.5 tablespoon coconut fresh grated or frozen or desiccated will work too
- 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp/paste
- 5 curry leaves
Make The Spice paste
- Deseed all or half quantity of the dry kashmiri chilies if you want. In your blender jar, add vinegar, dry chillies, cloves, star anise, mustard & cumin seeds, cinnamon. Add 2-3 tablespoon warm water. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Once the chilli skins are slightly soft & the spices have soaked, add garlic, ginger, tamarind, coconut & 5 fresh curry leaves to the jar, cover the lid and blend to a smooth paste. You can add more water (1-2 tbsp) if needed but do not make a very thin paste.
Marinate the Chicken
- In a large bowl, add the chicken, add ½ teaspoon salt and add about half of the spice paste, coat the chicken in very well and let sit for (not more than 15 minutes). Reserve the remaining spice paste.
Make The Vindaloo Sauce
- While the chicken is marinating, heat up 3 tablespoon oil in a heavy bottomed wide pot. Once the oil is hot,add the quartered potatoes, sprinkle a generous pinch of salt and fry stirring on medium heat for 5 minutes till you see that their edges start to brown lightly.Take out the potatoes on a plate.
- Add the remaining oil to the pot and heat up. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and on medium heat, fry the onions till they are golden brown. Takes about 6-7 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to low medium once the onions have browned. Add the reserved spice paste. Stir around and on low heat, fry till you see that the spice paste darkens in color and the water evaporates. About 2-4 minutes.
- Layer the marinated chicken in the pot. Add the fresh curry leaves. Turn the heat to medium high and let the chicken brown. In about 2 minutes, flip the chicken pieces and let brown on the other side. You will slowly see lot of liquid in the pot but that's okay.
- Once the chicken has browned, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and let cook for about 11-13 minutes on low heat(adjust this time depending on how large or small your chicken pieces are).
- Once the chicken is about 90 % cooked, add the browned potatoes, cover and let cook for another 10 minutes on low heat, till the chicken is completely cooked and the potatoes are fork tender (make sure that the potatoes do not turn mushy).
- Uncover, add the jaggery ,½ cup water ( or more depending on how thick/thin you want the sauce), taste & adjust the salt. Let simmer uncovered or another 5 minutes.
- Let sit for 30 minutes before serving.Serve warm with steamed rice.