Cooking with Colm O'Gorman: Authentic Chicken Vindaloo 

"It is the gravy that makes this dish so good. A deep, rich, and beautifully spiced sauce made even sweeter and more luscious by the addition of lots of very slowly cooked onions at the final stage of cooking."
Cooking with Colm O'Gorman: Authentic Chicken Vindaloo 

I have another lovely Indian recipe for you this week, a dish that is traditionally made with pork, but more commonly made with lamb or chicken. Vindaloo has a reputation for being very hot and spicy, particularly in Indian restaurants in the UK, but the original dish was not necessarily that hot. It is based on a Portuguese dish, Carne de vinha d'alhos, which literally translates as meat marinated with garlic and wine. Goa in Southern India was a Portuguese colony for more than 450 years, and Goan cooks adapted the Portuguese dish, substituting palm vinegar for the wine and adding spices.

It is the gravy that makes this dish so good. A deep, rich, and beautifully spiced sauce made even sweeter and more luscious by the addition of lots of very slowly cooked onions at the final stage of cooking. This recipe uses chicken, but this dish is also fabulous with lamb. I am using chicken here because it is quicker, but if you love lamb, do try that as well. Use diced lamb and cook it for about forty-five minutes until it is super soft and tender before adding the meat and gravy to your onion and tomato mix as per the recipe below to finish off the dish.

I served this with a lovely courgette and yoghurt side dish that is quick and easy to make. It is light and fresh, and a perfect accompaniment to this richly flavoured curry. Add a freshly baked naan or chapatti to soak up the gravy and you are in curry heaven. If you are short on time, a few poppadoms are lovely with this. I do not deep fry my poppadom. Instead, I put them in the microwave one at a time for just thirty seconds and they pop up beautifully…crisp and crunchy and largely fat-free.

Chicken Vindaloo

700g skinless chicken, breast and thigh

Marinade

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp grated garlic
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp flaky sea salt
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 50ml apple cider vinegar

Onion gravy

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium onions
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 whole black cardamom
  • 1 whole star anise
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Some chopped spring onion and coriander leaves to garnish

Courgette yoghurt

Ingredients:

  • 1 large courgette
  • 350g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 20ml olive oil
  • ½ tsp cumin seed
  • ½ tsp fennel seed
  • 1 tsp mustard seed
  • 2 dried red chillies
  • A few curry leaves or leaves of fresh basil

Method:

Chop the chicken into roughly 3cm chunks. Make up the marinade by combining all the ingredients in a bowl big enough for the chicken. Kashmiri chilli powder is milder and sweeter than other types, so if you do not have any, use two teaspoons of ordinary chilli powder unless you want the dish to be quite hot. Bear in mind that the black pepper also adds heat. 

Add the chicken and coat it well. Let it marinade for about an hour.

When it is ready, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a big saucepan. Add the chicken and cook it until the meat is seared, you may need to do this in a few batches depending upon the size of your saucepan. Add in the rest of the marinade from the bowl and bring it to a soft boil. Now add 200ml of water and bring that to a simmer. Reduce the heat and let is simmer away for about ten minutes.

Peel and slice the onions. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy based frying pan. Add the bay leaf, cardamon and star anise. If you do not have black cardamon, use three pods of green cardamon instead. 

Lightly crush the cardamom before tossing them into the pan. Fry the spices and bay leaf for a minute before adding the sliced onions. Sauté the onions for twenty minutes until they are soft and brown. 

Chop the tomatoes and add them to the pan, along with the sugar and abut 50 ml of the gravy from the chicken. Cook for another seven to eight minutes until the tomato is soft and cooked through. Now add the chicken and the rest of the gravy. Bring it back a boil, before reducing the heat to a very low simmer and covering the pan. 

Cook for another ten minutes or so, stirring regularly until the gravy reduces and you have a thick, rich sauce that coats the chicken. Taste and season as required, adding more salt, and if it needs it, a little more vinegar.

While the curry is cooking, cook some basmati rice and make your courgette and yoghurt dish. Use a box grater to coarsely grate the courgette. Pop the grated vegetable into a pan of boiling water for just two to three minutes. Drain it immediately and rinse well with cold water to cool it down and stop it from overcooking. Pop the courgette into a clean towel and squeeze out any remaining water.

Whisk the yoghurt, sugar, salt, and lemon juice together in a bowl. Add the cooked courgette and combine it well. Set aside until you are ready to serve. When your Vindaloo is ready, it is time to finish off your side dish. Heat a few teaspoons of olive oil in a small pan. 

Add the spices for the courgette and yoghurt dish, that is the cumin, fennel and mustard seed and the dried chillies, along with the curry or basil leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, pour the oil and the tempered spices over the yoghurt and courgette dish, and serve it up right away with your Vindaloo and rice.

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