Chicken Vindaloo

The word ‘Vindaloo’ comes from the Portuguese word Vinha d’alhos, which means ‘marinated in garlic and wine’; the dish being ‘Carne de Vinha d’alhos’ or Pork Vindaloo. The dish found its way to India via the Portuguese explorers in the 15th Century, and when they landed in Goa, the locals loved it so much, that it became theirs to stay.

The Vindaloo is a staple lunch dish in most Goan and Anglo-Indian homes, even today, though outside of Goa, variations are made with lamb, mutton and even chicken. My version is of course, with chicken, as my parents don’t eat pork.

Chicken Vindaloo 2

Of course, the Vinha d’alhos has been tweaked several times over the centuries, especially by the Goans and Konkanis, with the addition of spicy red chilies, black pepper, tamarind and whole spices like cinnamon and cardamom. The version of Vindaloo most popular is a spicy, red-gravied one, though its English cousin is very different. Having traveled across the continents, the English ‘Vindaloo’ has transformed into a less spicier version, losing the vinegary tang completely, and earns a more subtle spice kick.

Chicken Vindaloo 4

In other words….according to Wikipedia….

A “vindaloo” is a standard element of Indian cuisine, derived from the Portuguese carne de vinha d’alhos (Literally: Meat in garlic wine marinade), a dish of meat (usually pork) marinated in wine and garlic. In its basic structure, it was the Portuguese sailor’s ‘preserved’ raw ingredients, packed in wooden barrels of alternate layers of pork and garlic, and soaked in wine. This was ‘Indianized’ by the local Goan cooks, by the substitution of palm vinegar for the red wine and the addition of dried ‘red’ chili peppers with additional spices to evolve into the local and easy to pronounce “vindaloo”. Nowadays, the Anglo-Indian version of a vindaloo is marinated in vinegar, sugar, fresh ginger, and spices overnight, then cooked with the addition of further spices

Chicken Vindaloo 1

Vindaloo, while spicy, does not have to be hair-raising if you just adjust the amount of chilies in it. It is, after all, about adjusting spices to suit one’s taste buds. We eat a fairly subtle amount of spices, but keep the heat quite less. So I’ve just cut down on the hot red chilies, but have used some Kashmiri red chilies for the colour. Vindaloo is best enjoyed with rice, plain steamed rice, but we had it with some jeera rice 😀

Chicken Vindaloo 5

Chicken Vindaloo


  • Chicken (with bone) – 1 kg (about 2 lbs), cut into medium-sized cubes
  • Onions – 4 to 5, medium sized, finely sliced
  • Ginger – 2 pieces, 1″ in size, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Garlic – 1 whole garlic or 18 to 20 cloves
  • Palm vinegar or Apple cider vinegar – 3 tbsp or 1/4 cup approx
  • Cane sugar or brown sugar – 2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  • Paprika – 2 tbsp (replace with 1 tsp chili flakes or 1 tsp red chili powder)
  • Salt – to taste
  • Vegetable oil – 1/2 cup

Whole Spices:

  • Black peppercorns – 1 tbsp
  • Black mustard seeds – 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds – 2 tsp
  • Coriander seeds – 2 tsp
  • Fenugreek seeds – 1 tsp
  • Cloves – 4 whole
  • Cinnamon – 1 stick, 1″ in size 
  • Dry red chilies – 10 to 12 (I have used 2 hot red chilies and 8 Kashmiri red chilies, you may use powder as well)


  1. Wash the chicken and keep aside to drain.
  2. Tip the whole spices (peppercorns, mustard, cumin, coriander, fenugreek seeds, whole red chilies, cloves, and cinnamon) in a pan over medium-high heat, using a spatula to stir constantly, as you dry-roast them slowly. This will take about 3 to 4 mins on an average; be careful not to turn heat on high.
  3. Once the spices turn darker, and begin to give off a roasted aroma, transfer them to a plate and let cool.
  4. Allow the spices to cool completely, and then grind them in a spice-grinder, to a fine powder.
  5. Make the Vindaloo masala paste; start by making a paste of the ginger and garlic (reserving 2 tsp ginger-garlic for later). 
  6. Now, in a bowl, add the vinegar, brown sugar, turmeric, paprika/chili flakes, and the ginger-garlic paste. To this, add the dry spice mixture. Stir to combine, and keep aside. 
  7. Next, transfer the washed chicken to a large mixing bowl. Tip in the vindaloo paste and rub chicken all over, ensuring the masala is well combined throughout the chicken. 
  8. Cover with cling-film, and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours, or overnight if time permits.
  9. Heat a deep-bottomed vessel, and pour the oil, allowing it to smoke. Tip in the sliced onions and remaining ginger and garlic paste, and fry them until well-browned, covering with a lid to them soften well.
  10. Add the chicken, along with the marinade and mix well to combine. Add salt. Make sure all the vindaloo paste has been used. Cook on high for 4 to 5 minutes.
  11. Wash the marinade bowl with some water, combine with 2 cups of water and pour in with chicken. Bring to a boil, and cover chicken for about 10 to 15 mins, or until chicken is tender and gravy has reduced well; gravy will be oily, that is perfect. 
  12. Check seasonings, and serve hot with steamed rice! 


  • You may add tamarind pulp and reduce the vinegar by half, if you wish. 
  • You can use boneless chicken, but chicken with bone adds more flavour. 
  • Add or reduce red chilies as per heat preference.
  • You may add some extra green chilies in the curry as well. 

Chicken Vindaloo 6




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