Margarita's International Recipes


Chicken Vindaloo

Chicken Vindaloo

Vindaloo is probably Goa's most famous dish. After all, it's featured in the menus of Indian restaurants the world over. The dish is a fusion of Indian and Portuguese elements. It's name came from “vinha d'alhos” literally “vine and garlic”, a popular marinade for meats in Portugal. In Goa, the wine vinegar was substituted with palm vinegar and the dish evolved to include Kashmiri chilis and local spices.

Vindaloo has never been my favorite dish at Indian restaurants – I prefer the sweeter kormas and tikka masalas -, and my one attempt at making it (twenty years ago, using the Frugal Gourmet's recipe) was not too successful. Still, no cooking visit of Goa would be complete without trying it. I decided to use Saveur's recipe, as it seemed authentic enough and was fairly well adapted to western kitchens.

I did have to make a couple of substitutions, however. I decided to skip the expense of buying black mustard seeds and I used regular mustard seeds instead. I probably would have been able to find palm vinegar at my local Indian store, but I figured I'd save myself a trip and use apple cider vinegar. I added a little bit of sugar and a little bit of lemon juice to the recipe to make up for the differences between the two vinegars. The original recipe asked for 10 Indian green chilies – I substituted with serrano chilies, as those are easier to find and very similar when minced, but only used six to keep the spiciness at a maneagable level. The results were a curry that had the perfect spice level for me, though was probably mild for a regular person. Using all 10 chilis will give you a fairly spicy curry. Vindaloos are supposed to be spicy.

My other change was in the cooking method. The original recipe said to cook it covered for 25 minutes, but that left me with a soupy curry and uncooked potatoes. I thus uncovered it and simmered it on low for an additional hour, until the curry had a more paste like consistency.

While I didn't love my chicken vindaloo, I found it to be quite a satisfying dish.

Chicken Vindaloo


  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 Tbsp Black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 5 cloves
  • 1” cinnamon stick
  • 16 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2” ginger root, peeled
  • 1/4 cup Hungarian paprika
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ¼ tsp. Brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • sprinkle lemon juice
  • 2 onions
  • 6 Indian green or serrano chilis
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 1 lb small new potatoes, washed & cut in half
  • salt to taste


Remove and discard extra fat from chicken thighs. Cut thighs in half and place in a bowl. Keep in the refrigerator while you prepare the marinade.

Heat a 12” non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the peppercorns, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fenugreek seeds, cloves and cinnamon. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the seeds start to pop, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Grind spices together.

In a food processor or blender (I use a rocket blender type blender), mince 8 garlic cloves and 1” of ginger. Add the paprika, vinegar, brown sugar, turmeric and lemon juice. Add the ground spice mixture. Process into a paste.

Add the paste onto the chicken and rub chicken pieces. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Finely chop the onions and chilis and mince the remaining ginger and garlic.

In a large pot, head the oil over medum heat. Add the onions and cook, covered, until they are caramelized, stirring occasionally. Stir in the minced chilis, ginger and garlic and cook, uncovered, for five minutes. Add the chicken, potatoes and 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then bring down the heat to low and simmer uncovered until the potatoes are soft. Season with salt to taste. Serve with rice.

Adapted from a recipe at Saveur.

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