Saturday, April 14, 2007

Let's Make : Chicken Vindaloo

According to Lizzie Collingham in her book "Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors", the British discovered vindaloo in 1797 when they invaded Goa. By then the British, Dutch, and the French had joined the Portuguese in India and were jostling for control of the lucrative spice trade. During their 17-year long occupation of Portuguese India, the British discovered the delights of Goan cookery. They were relieved to find that the Goan (Catholic) cooks were free from the irritating caste or religious restrictions that prevented Hindus and Muslims from cooking beef and pork and, when the British left in 1813, they took their Goan cooks with them. In this way Vindaloo made its way to British India and from there back to 68

Vindaloo is normally regarded as an Indian curry, but in fact it is a Goan adaptation of the Portuguese dish "carne de vinbo e albos" or meat cooked in vinegar and garlic. The name vindaloo is simply a garbled pronunciation of vinho e albos.

Vindaloo is traditionally made with pork but the British liked it best with duck; I prefer it with chicken, so the recipe I am going to share is one modified for chicken and taken from Bridget White Kumar's, "Flavours of the Past : The Very Best of Classic Colonial Cuisine" which I bought from the author on my last visit to Bangalore. I made this for lunch and the family loved it, I hope you do, too.

Chicken Vindaloo

1 kg Chicken cut into medium pieces

3 big tomatoes pureed

2 big onions chopped

3 medium potatoes peeled and cut into quarters

1 tsp mustard powder

3 tsps chilly powder ( or 1 tsp kashmiri chilli powder and 2 tsps paprika)

2 tsps cumin powder

1 tsp pepper (powdered)

1 tbsp garlic paste

1/2 cup vinegar (malt vinegar preferrable)

1/2 tsp haldi or turmeric powder

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the onions until golden-brown. Add the garlic paste and fry well. Add the chilly powder, turmeric, cumin, mustard powder, pepper and a little water and fry well till the oil separates from the masala. Add the tomato puree and salt and fry some more. Now add the chicken, potatoes and vinegar and mix well. Add more water depending on how much gravy is required and cook till chicken and potatoes are done.

If you enjoy this, I will share more recipes and extracts from both, Collingham and Kumar White's books.

For an excellent review of "Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors" by Lizzie Collingham, please check out Niranjana's review at ECLECTICA

p.s. I hadn't planned on this post so I didn't take a picture of the chicken vindaloo made in my kitchen, so I borrowed one of mercuryvapour's pictures from flickr. Hope he doesn't mind.


Asha said...

HUH!!! A recipe!!YAY!!!

I have the first book ,loved it.I will order the second if I can get it in Amazon.

Vindaloo does mean cooked withVinegar and garlic,I didn't know until recently!!Good info and fab looking dish.Thanks for the recipe Lotus.

Lotus Reads said...

LOL, Asha, big surprise, no? Hope you were sitting down when you visited my blog today! :)

Not sure Bridget Kumar's book is available on's a slim little copy, maybe i can ask someone from India to bring you one. Let's see.

kimbofo said...

My partner would live on chicken vindaloo if I let him -- the hotter, the better as far as he is concerned!

Sanjay said...

Lotus,I loved the post as well as the recipe. I did not know that bit of history about the dish and it's origins and how its name came about. Once again I have to say I am so glad you are back from your break and are blogging again.

I always learn something new from your blog which is why I am wholly in agreement with those that nominated you for the "Thinking Blog" award. Yo so richly deserve it! :-)

Milan-zzz said...

I will prepare this for sure (except I’m not familiar with the last ingredient). Will let you know was it eatable...
Oh this is why I love visiting your blog!

Lotus Reads said...

@Kim ~

Really happy to see you here, thanks for stopping by! Be generous with the chilli pepper powder when cooking for your partner, you probably know already, the chilli pepper found its way to India by means of the Portuguese and of all the foods they introduced to India, chillies are undoubtedly their most important culinary legacy!

@Milan ~

Lovely to see you too and thank you for the kind words. Turmeric is a yellow powder, I think it's also known as "Indian saffron" not be confused with Arabic or Persian Zaffron...let me know how it turns out!

Lotus Reads said...

@Sanjay ~

You are too kind, thank you! Lizzie Collingham's book has some great stories on the histories of certain anglo-Indian foods or the "foods of the Raj" as they are also fondly known. Her book is a must for all foodies! It also contains recipes...I might do the "Dhansak" next time, I love the dish!

Anali said...

Oh yum! I just printed out this post! The book looks great and I cannot wait to try this recipe!

Sai said...

Hey Lotus:

You have made me home sick....since I am married to a Goan...I LOVE ALL THINGS GOA.

Enjoy this dish with some feni....lethal combination!

Bybee said...

This recipe looks scrumptious. Luckily, this is one of the rare ones in which I can procure all the ingredients, thanks to the Asian origin.

Speaking of curry: My Korean students eat spicy food (chili paste is the main feature) every day of their lives, every meal, and never turn a hair -- but when they order a curry dish, they're fanning their mouths and sweating like crazy!

Susan in Italy said...

Hey Lotus, Thanks for the recipe! It reminds me of the book you sent me as a gift for your blogaversary. Colonial Indian cuisine. I had no idea that Vindaloo was originally Portuguese. Thanks for the history lesson!

Beenzzz said...

Hi Lotus!
This looks like a wonderful recipe. I will definitely make this. What an interesting book, "Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerers," must have been. I really enjoy history and I find it so intriguing how some cuisines come about. Speaking of food, spices, and history, have you read "The Scents of Eden" by, Richard Corn? It is a basic but interesting read that details the European travels across the East in search of spices like cloves, nutmeg, and mace.

Lotus Reads said...

@Anali ~ you'll have to let me know how it turned out! If you are not partial to vinegar you can use less than the recommened amount, or a milder vinegar, but vindaloo is all about the vinegar...also, I would recommend not eating it the day you cook it, that way the vinegar has a chance to blend with the spices and into the meat.

@Sai ~ lol@ feni! That is a lethal combo, I will agree! And which one would you recommend I try? Cashew or Coconut? :) I am familiar with Goanese dishes because my parents were transferred there for 5 was the '70's, the height of the hippie, I could actually write a book on our time in Goa, well, I exaggerate, not a book, but definitely a couple of posts! :) Did K's family cook a lot of the Christian Goan fare?

The Traveller said...

I'm veggie, but yum! Last week I cooked a traditional Venezuelan paella recipe I found in a novel I read - turned out pretty well, definitely a different taste to the paellas I normally create.

hellomelissa said...

yum! and i have all the ingredients on hand.

shnaggy said...

hi lotus, this looked so yummy. i love idian dish specially curried anything. am gonna try this at home. thanks.

and btw, i love reading book reviews so i won't waste time looking for books. i've read your comment from sugarlips and went to your blog. now i will link yours to mine. is that ok?

see yah!

Sai said...

Oh my preference is coconut to cashew as I prefer sweet to dry!

Sai said...

Sai said...
K's family loves to eat PERIOD. K's parents are very cosmopolitan in their taste and life style so Goan Christian food as well as Parsee Bhonu was a regular fare in their home. Also they cooked a lot of continental food and other international food! All I can say is that they are all overweight people who love to eat, drink and generally party a lot!!!! LOL those were fun times ;-)

booklogged said...

I didn't notice any curry seasoning in the recipe - does the turmeric provide the curry flavor? I made a chicken curry salad years ago that my husband and I loved, but the kids didn't. Something I can start experimenting with again. YaY!

Lotus Reads said...

@bybee~ Hello! I have always been curious about Korean and Japanese curry. I have seen "curry" on the menu of Japanese restaurants but never tried it...always wanted to know whether it was like INdian curry or something totally different. And you're right about the chilli paste...when we go out for Korean BBQ, they serve us some along with kimchi with the starters and it's dynamite!!!

@Susan ~ You're welcome and you're right, you would probably find a recipe for vindaloo in the Pat Chapman book. They make vindloo of pork, beef, duck and even egg! I guess you could make vindaloo of any favorite vegetable too...I'm thinking aubergine vindaloo might not be too bad!

@beenzzz ~ you always have some lovely book recommendations, thank you! I am going to check out "Scents of Eden" right away (what a heavenly name!). I remember there was one called "Spice: History of a Temptation" by Jack Turner...might check that one out too. You're right, food histories are absolutely captivating. To be honest, I collect recipe books more for their stories than for the recipes themselves! lol

Radha said...

Oh I just love vindaloo...try prawns vindaloo...its mom is from goa so i've grown up eating these dishes & now I miss them coz i never learnt from my mom how to cook them

ML said...

I'm a huge fan of vindaloo. I really liked the fact that you posted on the history behind the dish. Thanks for the recipe! It looks and sounds delicious!

Lotus Reads said...

@Traveller ~

You have me intrigued! Was this recipe for paella in a novel (fiction) or was this in one of those recipe cum memoir books? I ask because I have been seeing an increasing number of novels talk about food and many will go into lengthy explanations as to how they cooked something...for example Jhumpa Lahiri in "The Namesake" teaches us how to make "chaat" a kind of Indian chopsuey and Ian McEwan's character in "SaturdaY" makes a stew , the method for which McEwan quite happily supplies...question I have always asked myself is, do these recipes work? :)

Sanjay said...

question I have always asked myself is, do these recipes work? :)

@Lotus, I just happened to read what you said about those recipes, I am trying to recall, there is a piece I read where someone actually tried out recipes from various books of fiction. I think I read it in the New Yorker or the NYTimes, I will try and look it up.

J at said... interesting...I never knew about the history of Vindaloo! In one overcrowded job of mine, I temporarily shared my cubicle with a very nice Indian man from Goa, and his last name was something very Portugese sounding, and he was Catholic. Then, at my next job, I became friends with another Catholic Goan. I don't believe I've met any since. Interesting, huh?

Sanjay said...

Lotus, Here is the article I talked about in response to your comment above
question I have always asked myself is, do these recipes work? :)
It was indeed in the New Yorker and here is the Cooked Books..Real food from fictional recipes
It is available online which is really great. I think you will like reading this piece. An excerpt from one of the books you talked about is below.
Rising to a higher level of culinary ambition, I went on to make, the following night, a fish-stew recipe, a kind of English bouillabaisse, from Ian McEwan’s superb “Saturday”:

Lotus Reads said...

@Melissa ~ Yes! Many recipes from India have spices that are not in everyone's kitchen so I was quite pleased to find this recipe that stayed with the regular spices and didn't call for anything too exotic!

@shnaggy ~ You do me great honor by putting me on your blogroll! I took a quick look at your blog and I am coming back!!! I'm so glad you ventured here from sugarlips' blog, she's such a darling!

@Sai ~ I love the sound of K's family and I love their philosphy: Eat, drink and be Merry". That's the way to do it!!!

Lotus Reads said...

@Radha ~ yum! Yes, I forgot all about Prawn Vindaloo...would love to try that sometime. Nothing like mom's cooking,huh?

@booklogged ~ A curry powder is just a blend of different powdered spices and the powders that make the blend can change depending on what curry you're making. In this recipe, the cumin,mustard,pepper, turmeric and chilli powder will be your curry powder. I love Curried Chicken salad, haven't made it in a long time, thanks for reminding me!

@ml ~ You're so welcome, glad you enjoy reading the history! I'll bet you have your own way of making vindaloo? Everyone I know has their own recipe for it.

Niranjana said...

Lotus: My review of "Curry" was just published in Eclectica--what a nice coincidence :)

Any vegetarian substitutions for the chicken that you think might do the trick? I'm thinking Paneer/Tofu right now, but I'm curious to know what vegetables might work with malt vinegar...

Mellowdrama said...

Yummy, thanks for the recipie. When I was in Mumbai I had a whole bunch of Goan friends and I used to gorge on Pork Vindaloo and Sorpotel (Hope I got that right) - well, apparently they had this amazing secret 'bottle masala' which gave the meat the flavour. And the recipie for this masala is not up for grabs unfortunately...maybe you can get hold of it from somewhere...all Goans seem to know about it!

diyadear said...

wow lotus, u can now sail the titanic in my mouth..thanks for a lovely recipe..

gautami tripathy said...

Yummy Recipe! Thanks!

Hugs, Angel..

Lotus Reads said...

@Sanjay ~

Thanks so much for locating that article for me, it was most interesting...I have often thought about doing a post on food and novels or food in novels, myself, but haven't had the time to think about what I might want to write.

I read the article and turns out the author didn't care much for Ian McEwan's fish stew, so I guess that pretty much answers my may not always be able to take recipes in novels seriously! :)

Lotus Reads said...

Hi, J!

Yes, the Goans have an interesting history indeed and it shows in their food. Like I was mentioning to Sai, we spent 4-5 years in Goa and tasted some amazing dishes...some of my favorites are ambotik (a hot and sour fish curry) and bibinca (a kind of coconut custard). The seafood available there is just phenomenal!

Hi, Niranjana!

I will have to rollerblade to "Eclectica" immediately to read your review! Would you mind if I provided a link to it on my post?

What a great question you this book I have here, the author has tried vindaloo with Eggplant but I think she used white vinegar with it, although I don't think malt would hurt (but don't go by what I say, I'm the world's worst cook!)lol. She also added cinnamon and a little sugar to the dish. Paneer would definitely be a great substitute for meat!

Lotus Reads said...

@mellowdrama ~ you are right, you can buy packet or bottled vindaloo masala...I believe it's sold by a company called "Ferns" and even "Saldahnas" and they are available at our local Indian stores, but I can't vouch for them because I haven't tried the readymade ones!

@Diya ~ lol, wish you could have downloaded some..I made enough to feed an army!

@Gautami ~ You are welcome, my sweet friend!

Sugarlips said...

Recepie :)
You know how much I love cooking and I post pics in my flickr album...This chicken vindaloo looks scrumptious :) Can I come over? ;)

Thanks for all the info..its always great to know about different kind of food from all over the world.

Stay Beautiful...!

Olivia said...

I must say, vindaloo couldn't be further from the original pork cooked in vinegar and garlic.

My uncle, a Portuguese Guyanese, cooks this dish which we call garlic pork. The fresh pork is cubed, rubbed with salt and pickled in a jar for a few days in vinegar sprigs of thyme and crushed garlic and chilli peppers.

Then, basically it is dry fried. I find it a bit strong, and we used to make it outdoors and drop a few morsels of it into Pepperpot to liven it up a bit.

Sanjay said...

@Lotus.. you are very welcome. re the fish stew not being good, perhaps the recipes in novels are meant more to fire one's imagination and maybe don't lend themselves to being great in an epicurean sense?

gs said...

hi lr
my antenna picks up anything that is goan.your blog on vindaloo was a delightful read.being a vegetarian i did want to have vegetarian vindaloo.hence,some time back,after a good deal of surfing, i came across a lovely recipe.

Niranjana said...

Lotus: You are very welcome to link to my review!

I invariably end up using Paneer as a meat substitute (and tofu as a Paneer substitute!), so eggplant would be a really nice change. I find malt vinegar tricky to work with, but I'll try this one out and let you know if I succeed!

Kamla said...

I tired to interview Lizzie last year when the book came out...but she was away in Australia.

You might want to look into another great book that is titled, "The Raj at the Table." This is a wonderful little book filled with historical tidbits about Anglo-Indian cooking and has some recipes from really ancient books. I believe the book is out of print. Hope you get to see a copy of it.


amna said...

oh lotus! that looks absolutely delicious. since i'm on a cooking hiatus (i HAVE to keep myself away from the kitchen or else i'll be cooking all day. just so that i have an excuse to not study!), will def try it out once i'm done :)

- amna

Happy Reader said...

Lotus - How interesting! I've never heard of vindaloo before and I would love to try this recipe with eggplant, since I am a vegetarian!

Bookfool said...

Yumm. I've heard of chicken vindaloo - maybe I've seen it on a menu in London? - but never tried it. Sounds so good. Could you come to my house and cook for me, Lotus? ;)

david santos said...

22 de abril, día de la tierra. Quién no la respeta, no respeta la humanidad.
22 of April, day of the land. Who does not respect it, does not respect the humanity.

22 d'avril, jour de la terre. Qui ne la respecte pas, ne respecte pas l'humanité.
22 نيسان يوم الارض. فمن لا يحترم ومن لا يحترم الانسانيه.
22 von April, Tag des Landes. Wer es nicht respektiert, respektiert nicht die Menschlichkeit
22日,一天的土地. 谁不尊重,不尊重人性. 4月の22、土地の日。
4月の22、土地の日。 それを尊重しないかだれが、人間性を尊重しない。
22 апреля - День земли. Кто не уважает его, не уважать человечество.
22 de Abril, dia da terra, quem não a respeita, não respeita a humanidade
22 της ημέραης Απριλίου, του εδάφους, που δεν το σέβονται, δεν σέβονται το Ανθρωπότητα
David Santos

david mcmahon said...

G'day Lotus,

Mouth-watering recipe. Hey, I make a great pork vindaloo. Come to think of it, my butter chicken is not too shabby either!

Am just about to tag you in the next hour or so.



david mcmahon said...

Hi Lotus,

You've been tagged! See blogpost titled `Gold, Frankincense and Mur' on my site.



Lotus Reads said...

@Sugarlips ~ You are most welcome to come over, infact, I insist you do! :))

@Olivia ~ You are right. The Pork Vindaloo is made very differently from chicken . I noticed that immediately, but I prefered to use the chicken recipe because it was simpler to make and didn't look like it was going to assault the palate with its flavors.

@Sanjay ~ Yes, it does seem that way. Still, it fun to try to find out if any of those recipes worked. Guess they were as fictional as the stories themselves! ;)

@gs ~ Lovely to see you! Yes, I remember your search for the perfect vegetarian vindaloo. Perhaps I should direct Niranjana there, you had a recipe, too, if I remember correctly!

@Niranjana ~ Good luck and hope it turns out well!

@Kamla ~ I so appreciate your awesome book suggestion and will definitely look for it. BTW, I cannot tell you often enough how much I enjoy your blog, you do a great job keeping your readers on top of the news and other cultural happenings.

Scrib said...

Thanks for using my image, and thanks for the credit, no I don't mind at all. The recipe sounds great, I'll have to give it a go someday - alas the vindaloo in the photo was a supermarket prepared one, so it's probably as far from a proper vindaloo as you're going to get. Still looks lovely though :)

Lotus Reads said...

Thank you so much, very gracious of you! I plan on putting up some more recipes on the blog so stay tuned if you like. :)