Easy Chicken Vindaloo

I don’t know if this is the norm, but I live in the sticks, so when I want Indian food, I expect to pay about $45 for dinner (for myself and Future Mister, and there’s always leftovers, but that is still a bit pricey). So, what’s a girl to do when she’s in the mood for Indian food, but it’s two days ’til payday? Make it yourself! I came across this recipe while browsing the Epicurious app on my iPhone, and it turned out so good I just couldn’t keep it to myself.

First off, take stock of your spice cabinet. If you don’t have spices like cardamom, cumin, curry, etc., this might be a slightly expensive endeavor the first time out. Spices can run anywhere from $1.50 to $5.00, depending on what you need and your location. Some were readily available in the McCormick section, others were only available in the fru-fru Spice Hunter brand. With that warning aside, let’s get started!

That's a lot of spice!

Here’s what you will need:

  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (or more, depending on how much heat you like)
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 2 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs (about 10), cut into cubes
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped onions (this is about one large white onion)
  • 1 14.5 ““ 16-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Take the vinegar, garlic, ginger, curry powder, cumin, cardamom, cloves, and red pepper and put them in a blender. Add 1 tablespoon of the mustard seed and blend until smooth. Transfer to a fairly large bowl and add the chicken and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Toss to coat the chicken and let it sit for a little while to let those delicious spices marinate.


In a large heavy pot, heat the remaining olive oil and add the onions. Saute over medium-high heat until golden brown (about 5 minutes). This may require lots of stirring to get that nice color and to prevent burning. Add the chicken and let it brown for a few minutes; this will seal in the flavor.

Once again, keep stirring. Add the tomatoes, juice and all, and the cinnamon stick. Put the lid on it and simmer for about a half hour. If it’s longer, I don’t think it’ll hurt anything.

While your chicken is simmering, get your rice ready. I recommend Basmati. The instructions on the bag that I used said to soak the rice in cold water for 15 minutes, and then cook for ten, so that’s what I did. I also threw in a dash of cumin while it was cooking, which made it smell nice and closer to how it smells at the restaurant I mentioned earlier.

Soakin' the rice!


Once the chicken is tender, season with salt to taste and add the remaining tablespoon of mustard seed. Simmer uncovered until liquid starts to dissipate and sauce starts to thicken, about 10 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick, stir in cilantro, and serve.

Served with Naan, Basmati rice, and a cucumber/yoghurt side. I could eat this once a week.

This recipe was incredibly delicious, but I do have a couple adjustments that I will make next time. First, I will get a blender or food processor to puree the spices. I tried squishing them through my garlic press, and while I don’t think the food suffered, my hands smelled like the spices for at least a day or two. Second, I think I will use either crushed or pureed tomatoes. At the previously mentioned restaurant, the sauce for this dish has a much smoother texture, and I think I prefer that. All said, this was fairly easy and now that my cabinet is stocked with the right spices, it will be fairly inexpensive to make. Two thumbs up!


By [E]queSarahSarah

Part-time artist, full-time crankypants who dabbles in knitting, running, and burpees.

14 replies on “Easy Chicken Vindaloo”

Wannabemusicologist-boyfriend and I make Indian food together to mark most special events (we both love Indian food but the amount of butter and creme usually in it absolutely kills our lactose intolerant tummies), but we will have to try this recipe for chicken vindaloo because it seems less complicated than ours and the end result looks better! Also, if you are lacking in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle you can use your coffee grinder, just wipe it out well, and run some white rice through it before your grind the spices to get rid of the flavour of coffee and then do the same thing again when you are done grinding the spices.

Oh wow, this looks amazing. I’ll definitely be cooking it soon! AND this means I can finally use some of the mustard seeds my housemate bought and forgot about, too.

I really love having a full spice cupboard – I can look in my Indian cookbook and I’ll have about two thirds of all the ingredients, ready to go!

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