For many Americans, Indian cuisine is often associated with the powerful, spicy flavors of the dishes. One such dish is Vindaloo, a popular and recognizable choice that is beloved by all who taste it. But what makes Vindaloo so special? Let’s explore this flavorful curry dish to find out.
What is Vindaloo?
Vindaloo originated in Goa, India in the 16th century and was originally made from pork meat. It's a combination of various spices and ingredients such as vinegar, ginger, garlic, cumin, coriander, chilies, and turmeric. All these ingredients are ground together to form a paste and then cooked with meat (usually pork or lamb) and potatoes. The result is an incredibly flavorful and fragrant dish with a powerful kick of heat!
The name "vindaloo or vindalho" comes from the Portuguese phrase carne de vinha d'alhos which means “meat with wine and garlic." This is because the original recipe included vinegary marinades and garlic-based sauces. Today, however, there are countless variations on the classic recipe that include chicken, lamb, fish, or even just vegetables!
Today, vindaloo can be found in almost every corner of the world. In the United Kingdom and many other parts of Europe, it is one of the most popular dishes on menus in Indian restaurants – although it has been adapted to suit local palates by adding potatoes or other vegetables like carrots or mushrooms. In North America, it has become increasingly popular in recent years as more people discover its unique flavor profile.
How Hot is a Vindaloo Dish?
- The primary ingredient in a traditional vindaloo dish is Byadagi chilli, which has a Scoville rating of 50,000 to 100,000.
- For comparison, jalapenos usually fall between 2,500 – 8,000 on the Scoville scale and habanero peppers can range from 100,000 – 350,000.
- However, it is not possible to measure a curry recipe or dish on a Scoville scale as it is a blend of spices and other ingredients rather than a single chile.
- The heat level of the dish will purely depend upon the ingredients used to make the sauce including the type of chili. It is understood that vindaloo dishes are usually quite spicy.
Chicken Vindaloo Vs Tikka Masala
Two popular dishes that have become worldwide favorites are chicken vindaloo and chicken tikka masala. Let's explore the origin of the dish, the main ingredients used to make it, and their respective spice levels.
Origin of the Dish
- Chicken Vindaloo hails from Goa, India. It is composed of marinated pork cooked in a mixture of vinegar and spices including chilies and garlic. This dish was introduced to India by the Portuguese during their colonization of Goa in the 16th century; however, over time it has been adapted to suit Indian tastes with the substitution of pork with chicken or beef.
- Chicken Tikka Masala originated in Punjab but gained popularity in Britain as well as in other countries around the world. The dish is thought to have been invented by an Indian chef when his customer complained about her chicken being dry; he then created a creamy sauce made out of onion, tomato puree, cream, ginger-garlic paste, and garam masala (an Indian spice mix). This combination made for an exceptionally tasty dish that became famous all over the world.
Main Ingredients & Spice Levels
- Chicken Vindaloo consists of chicken marinated in a blend of spices such as ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, mustard seed, and chili powder. The marinade is used to flavor the chicken before it is cooked in a spicy vinegar-based gravy. The result is a unique and flavorful dish that can be served with either rice or naan bread.
- Chicken Tikka Masala consists of chunks of chicken cooked in a creamy tomato-based sauce flavored with garlic, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and more. Indulge in the succulent flavor of this aromatic curry, served with either fluffy rice or warm naan bread.
- As you can see, both dishes use a variety of spices ranging from mild to hot depending on individual tastes, mainly due to their origin - with Chicken Vindaloo being particularly fiery. This is because it includes hotter chiles than what’s used in making Chicken Tikka Masala, which also features cream for a milder flavor.
Most Common Types Of Vindaloo
Depending on the region and dietary preference, Vindaloo can be made with various proteins like chicken, beef, lamb, goat, pork, fish, vegetables, and tofu. Let's explore the common types:
- Chicken Vindaloo: Boneless chicken thighs simmered in a tangy spicy sauce. Perfect for a great weeknight Indian meal.
- Beef Vindaloo: Cubed beef pieces cooked in an aromatic sauce, popular in Kerala. Serve with basmati rice or Kerala parotta for an easy and delicious meal.
- Lamb Vindaloo: Classic dish with tender bone-in lamb shank cooked in a spiced vinegar-based sauce. A recipe that has stood the test of time since the 1800s.
- Goat Vindaloo: Tender chunks of goat meat cooked in an aromatic and spicy sauce, a popular Kerala dish. Enjoy with steamed rice or Kerala parotta.
- Pork Vindaloo: Traditional Goan cuisine that gained popularity in Kerala. Bone-in pork shoulder slow-cooked with an array of spices and herbs until fork-tender.
- Fish Vindaloo: Fragrant spices and tomato paste elevate mackerel or kingfish fillets to a tender and flaky delight. A seafood lover's choice.
- Vegetable Vindaloo: Vegan alternative with potatoes, chickpeas, mushrooms, or eggplant cooked in flavorful spices. Serve over steamed basmati rice.
- Tofu Vindaloo: This is a fantastic vegan option that features firm tofu cubes in a fragrant tomato vinegar sauce. Enjoy with basmati rice or naan for a plant-based meal.
People Also Ask [FAQs]
The most commonly accepted pronunciation of Vindaloo is "vin-dah-loo".
Vindaloo dishes can be very spicy due to the addition of Byadagi chilies, which range between 50,000 and 100,000 on the Scoville scale, although other ingredients and the amount of water used in the sauce can affect its heat level. However, it is not possible to measure curry on a Scoville scale as it is a blend of spices rather than a single chile.
Many iterations of Vindaloo now contain potatoes due to the misunderstanding of 'alhos' (Portuguese for garlic) as aloo (Hindi for potato).
Vindaloo curry is typically vegan, however, some restaurants may add cream or ghee (clarified butter) to their recipe, which would make it non-vegan.
Wrap Up: Vindaloo
- Vindaloo is a fiery dish that has its roots in Indian cuisine. It is a combination of vinegar and spices, usually including garlic, chili peppers, and ginger.
- It is an incredibly popular dish worldwide, with many variations on the original recipe.
- Vindaloo has been a mainstay of Indian cuisine for generations, but its recent surge in popularity is thanks to its distinct taste and ability to satisfy the palates of both spice aficionados and those who prefer milder flavors.
- So go ahead—try some authentic Indian vindaloo sauce today! Whether you opt for pork, lamb, or vegetable as your main ingredient, you can rest assured that your next meal will be packed full of flavor!
- Once you get the hang of making vindaloo sauce from scratch, you'll never return to store-bought versions! Bon appetite, this sauce is better than your local Indian restaurant; let us know in the comments below what you think of this sauce!
Easy Homemade Vindaloo Sauce Recipe
For Vindaloo Curry Paste
Making the Paste
- The first step in making a delicious vindaloo sauce is creating the paste.
- Place all the vindaloo paste ingredients in a bowl and let it soak in the vinegar for 10 minutes.
- Once the time has elapsed, blend the mixture into a fine paste before adding it to your desired protein (chicken, lamb, pork, or veg).
Applying the Paste
- The next step is taking your paste and applying it to your desired protein.
- I have used 500 grams of boneless chicken for my marination purpose. Apply the paste evenly over your protein and let it rest for 15 minutes before cooking. This will allow your chicken to absorb all that flavor from the paste.
Making the Sauce
- The next step in creating your Vindaloo sauce is to heat up the oil in a pan.
- Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onions and cook them until they are slightly browned, about 5 minutes on a low-medium flame.
- Next, add the marinated chicken and let it cook for another 5 minutes on medium heat.
- Then, pour in the ½ cup of water and salt, cover the pot with a lid, and let it all simmer for about 15 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
- Once it's finished cooking, garnish with freshly chopped cilantro leaves and adjust for any saasoning, it is now ready to be served hot with rice or bread.
- This recipe can be used with any type of meat or fish – just adjust the cooking time depending on what type of protein you are using.
- Additionally, there are also variations of this recipe that call for different spices such as coriander powder, garam masala powder, red chili powder, and more – feel free to experiment and find what works best for you!
- If you don't have dried chiles you can also opt for powder, just make sure to add them after blending the other ingredients, replace 4 dried red chilies with ¾ tablespoon of red chili powder and 4 Kashmiri chilies with 1 teaspoon of Kashmiri chili powder.