Chicken Vindaloo

I’ve been following and reading Prerna’s blog “Indian Simmer” for a while. She cooks traditional Indian dishes and takes the most beautiful and artistic pictures of food. After reading about her kitchen and seeing her gorgeous photography for months, I finally got around to making one of her recipes. And oh man, is it good.

Perfectly spiced . . . perfect consistency and texture . . . perfect tenderness of the chicken . . . ‘perfect’ is the operating word here, in case you hadn’t noticed.

And once ‘perfect’ has been thrown out there, well . . . I don’t really have anything left to say.


(Serves 5)

4 red chilies
6 cloves garlic
1 TBS grated fresh ginger
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 ½ lbs chicken thighs
1 tsp cloves
1 TBS cumin
½ tsp cardamom seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
½ TBS whole peppercorns
4 TBS vegetable oil
1 ½ tsp mustard seeds
1 large onion
2 tsp salt
Cilantro, to garnish

De-seed and mince the red chilies.

I was wary of the heat, so I only used 2. BUT! I totally should have used 4. The heat (for me) was barely noticeable with 2.

Mince the garlic . . .

. . . and grate the ginger. After shouldering tons of guilt for letting my ginger shrivel in the fridge due to un-prompt usage, I finally followed someone’s advice and froze it. I keep frozen lumps of ginger, and when I’m ready to use them, I grate them with my microplane zester.

Works like a charm! Seriously. You’d think that grating frozen ginger would be tough–but it practically grates itself as I watch in wonder.

Soak the chilies, ginger, and garlic in the vinegar for half an hour.

Grind them or process them to make a paste.

My mortar and pestle experience wasn’t exactly ideal, since the liquidiness and the bashing together made for a very splashy time. So I recommend using a little food processor. However, the dish didn’t seem to suffer because the garlic and chili were in chunks.

At this point, I happily poured the mixture on the chicken thighs for the hour of marination to begin.

Then I remembered that I was supposed to chop up the chicken.


No harm done, ultimately. Unless you consider the additional pictures of raw chicken harmful.

My thumb. It looks gross. The chicken renders it totally unphotogenic, man.

Anyway, marinate the chicken in the chili paste for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Grind the cloves, cumin, cardamom seeds, cinnamon, turmeric, and peppercorns in a spice or coffee grinder.

The smells are heavenly, people. This alone is a reason to make Indian food: to experience a world of scented spices.

Once everything is nicely ground up, mix in the salt.

Dice up the onion. I love dicing onions.

I hope you do too, because I certainly do a lot of that on this here blog.

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the mustard seeds . . .

. . . and when they start to pop, add the diced onion.

Note: the smell of mustard seeds heating is simply wonderful. And totally not what you’re thinking it might be if you’ve never smelled it before.

Cook the onion for 6-8 minutes, until the onion is softened and starting to brown. Add the marinated chicken with any accumulated juices to the pot, and stir fry for 4-5 minutes.

Add the dry spice mix . . .

. . . and stir it around until the chicken is evenly coated.

Cover the pot, turn the heat down to low, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot about every 7 minutes to avoid burning the sauce.

You may be thinking to yourself: but wait! There’s practically no sauce involved! Where is this ‘curry sauce’ that’s supposed to happen?

Well, the liquid released from the chicken and onion and such will somehow magically make things work. Just believe me. And believe Prerna. She’s an expert.


During this half an hour, the chicken will cook through and the curry sauce will thicken. Use this time to wash and chop up the cilantro:

Once the timer dings, make sure the chicken is cooked, and stir in a nice handful of chopped cilantro.

Serve over rice!

It’s so good. I never would have guessed that such a great sauce could happen with vinegar and some spices.

It’s so good that I kept uncontrollably snapping almost identical pictures.

It may be slightly swamp colored, but once you eat it, you will understand that true beauty lies within.

Seriously. Take a bite!

Guys. Oh guys. Make it.

Click here for printer-friendly version: Chicken Vindaloo

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23 Responses to Chicken Vindaloo

  1. Skippy says:

    “Some spices”? Including the red chilis and fresh ginger you are looking at 10 spices plus cilantro. I wouldn’t doubt it would taste good with all that going on. You probably don’t know if you are coming or going with this.

    You present it beautifully [as always] but it is a little busy for me. Enjoy!

    • Jenna says:

      Thanks Skippy. After seeing other Indian dishes over the years which call for a page full of spices, this ‘smaller’ list seemed more doable to me, but you’re right–it does have more than your average dish.

  2. We made Indian food last night! I love vindaloo–super hot!

    ps: I am pretty sure you know if you are coming or going. (wtf?)

  3. bevweidner says:

    Bookmarked. Bookmarked. Bookmarked.

    HOLY CRAP. Bookmarked.

  4. My husband always orders vindaloo when we go out for Indian, I’ll have to try making this at home, yum!

  5. What a really delicious looking curry and the photos are fantastic as usual. Thanks for sharing her blog by the way.

  6. I really love the detailed pics of the steps on how to make this. My Boyfriend is Indian so he makes me Indian food all the time. This will really help me suprise him and cook for him for a change his native food. :)

  7. Jhenna says:

    Yummy! This looks so amazing! I think I will make this, this weekend and try it out on the hubby :) All the recipes you have blogged about look amazing :)
    Plus we have the same name, only mine is spelled with an “h” :)

  8. YOu didn’t have to convince me, the picture did all the work before I read a word! I pinned this to my “fall recipes to try” board. Can’t wait! P.S. How can you enjoy dicing onions??? I love onions, but no likey the hot burning tears they cause when dicing.

  9. Circe says:

    You make this look so easy. I may have to try this recipe this weekend.

  10. Sarah says:

    i’m not a big indian food person but this looks divine!

  11. rebecca says:

    wow looks amazing love Prerna’s blog she will be thrilled that you made it

  12. Twinky says:

    a delish dish for me to try! And I like the “freeze the ginger and microplane zest it” trick. There might have to be a microplane zester in my future!! I think Christmas is coming….

  13. Tracy says:

    I love Prerna’s blog, and this recipe sounds amazing! I’ve been wanting to try more Indian dishes, and this one looks like a must-make!

  14. My Italian Smörgåsbord (Aka Barbara) says:

    something my hubby would love, with all those spices… will definitely use this recipe when he behaves :)

  15. Kelly says:

    Hi Jenna! I’m a friend of Erica’s from IU (I love your sister; she’s one of my favorite people on this earth). She pointed me to your blog for the pain à l’ancienne recipe, and I’ve been a pretty regular follower ever since (the Indian lentil dish has become a staple dish in my kitchen). I attempted this recipe tonight. Holy-red-chili burns on my hands, nose, and mouth, though…felt like I had dipped my hands in a vat of boiling oil. Any tips on avoiding this? All that aside – worth every. single. second. This dish was ahhhhhhh.mazing. Just the smell alone was worth the hand burns. Oh. my. I wish I could bottle it and have my kitchen smell like that all day, every day. Thanks!

    • Jenna says:

      Since Erica is also one of my favorite people on earth, it seems like we have a lot in common! =) Glad to meet you, Kelly.
      With regards to the chilies, I’m assuming it was the handling and cutting of the chilies that burnt you? In that case, I recommend wearing gloves (laytex type) while you chop and remove the seeds, and toss the gloves when you’re done. I’m so sorry you got burnt!! You must have had some strooooong chilies. If the finished dish itself was too hot, make sure to remove 100% of the membrane and seeds from the chilies, and that will bring down the heat considerably.
      Anyway, I’m glad you like it despite the pain!

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