Now that I'm back in the District, I can finally start cooking again! This week, I wanted to try something new and different. Last summer, several of our colleagues who work in our Chennai office were visiting for a couple of months. My office used this as an opportunity to get them to cook us an authentic Indian meal by holding an "International Potluck".
At the time, our colleagues were living in extended stay hotels, so they didn't exactly have world class kitchens. That did not stop them - the food they brought in was incredible! It has really encouraged me to want to try Indian cooking.
I briefly mentioned that I made Chicken Tikka Masala a few weeks ago and loved it. My coworker actually tried the same recipe this week, but didn't think it tasted authentic. Still, I enjoyed it. However, this time I wanted to step up the spice level. Vindaloo is supposed to be very spicy, and this recipe looked like it was going to meet our heat palates.
Unfortunately, and maybe it was the type of chiles that I used, this ended up looking a lot spicier than it tasted. The original recipe also called for WAY more cumin than it needed, so I cut it down in the recipe below. What was amazing about this recipe is that I felt like there was almost no liquid when I added the spices, yet a paste formed as the chicken cooked in the last step. It was pretty spectacular.
And, as long as we're talking spices, I (of course) have a money saving tip. I didn't have any cardamom and at my local grocery store a jar (whole or ground) was $14.99 (!!). Instead, I took a long walk to World Market, where it was only $2.99. Also, the original recipe calls for grinding your own spices, which I'm sure is great, but I just used the ground as noted below. For the chile paste, I ground it using my immersion blender, which worked but a food processor would have better.
If you enjoy Indian cuisine, definitely give this one a shot. For me, I'm going to try to go to an Indian grocery store next time to buy my spices, and maybe get some tips from my Chennai colleagues. This wasn't the best recipe I've ever made, but by adjusting the amount of cumin and using high quality spices, I think it could be a winner.
adjusted slightly from Steamy Kitchen
1 ½ lb chicken thighs (cut into cubes)
1 cup diced onions
4-5 whole red chilies
6-7 cloves of garlic
1 inch ginger
¼ cup white wine vinegar (add more if you like)
For dry spice mix:
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 teaspoon cinammon powder
1/2 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 cups diced potatoes (optional)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1) Soak whole chilies, garlic cloves and ginger in the white wine vinegar for about half an hour. Grind and make a paste of it.
2) Marinate chicken in the chili paste and let it sit in a refrigerator for at least an hour.
3) Mix cloves, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, turmeric and peppercorn. Set aside.
4) Heat oil in a thick bottom pan, add mustard seeds.
5) Once they start to pop, add onions and fry them in oil until they turn light golden brown.
6) Add marinated chicken with all the juices and stir fry for a few minutes.
7) Add dry spices along with salt, mix it all together and cover the pan with a lid.
8) Let it simmer and cook until the chicken is done and curry is thick (stirring in between from time to time).
9) Serve hot with rice or naan.