Tag Archives: mustard seeds

Chicken Vindaloo

I’ve been following and reading Prerna’s blog “Indian Simmer” for a while. She cooks traditional Indian dishes and takes the most beautiful and artistic pictures of food. After reading about her kitchen and seeing her gorgeous photography for months, I finally got around to making one of her recipes. And oh man, is it good.

Perfectly spiced . . . perfect consistency and texture . . . perfect tenderness of the chicken . . . ‘perfect’ is the operating word here, in case you hadn’t noticed.

And once ‘perfect’ has been thrown out there, well . . . I don’t really have anything left to say.


(Serves 5)

4 red chilies
6 cloves garlic
1 TBS grated fresh ginger
¼ cup white wine vinegar
1 ½ lbs chicken thighs
1 tsp cloves
1 TBS cumin
½ tsp cardamom seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp turmeric
½ TBS whole peppercorns
4 TBS vegetable oil
1 ½ tsp mustard seeds
1 large onion
2 tsp salt
Cilantro, to garnish

De-seed and mince the red chilies.

I was wary of the heat, so I only used 2. BUT! I totally should have used 4. The heat (for me) was barely noticeable with 2.

Mince the garlic . . .

. . . and grate the ginger. After shouldering tons of guilt for letting my ginger shrivel in the fridge due to un-prompt usage, I finally followed someone’s advice and froze it. I keep frozen lumps of ginger, and when I’m ready to use them, I grate them with my microplane zester.

Works like a charm! Seriously. You’d think that grating frozen ginger would be tough–but it practically grates itself as I watch in wonder.

Soak the chilies, ginger, and garlic in the vinegar for half an hour.

Grind them or process them to make a paste.

My mortar and pestle experience wasn’t exactly ideal, since the liquidiness and the bashing together made for a very splashy time. So I recommend using a little food processor. However, the dish didn’t seem to suffer because the garlic and chili were in chunks.

At this point, I happily poured the mixture on the chicken thighs for the hour of marination to begin.

Then I remembered that I was supposed to chop up the chicken.


No harm done, ultimately. Unless you consider the additional pictures of raw chicken harmful.

My thumb. It looks gross. The chicken renders it totally unphotogenic, man.

Anyway, marinate the chicken in the chili paste for 1 hour in the refrigerator.

Grind the cloves, cumin, cardamom seeds, cinnamon, turmeric, and peppercorns in a spice or coffee grinder.

The smells are heavenly, people. This alone is a reason to make Indian food: to experience a world of scented spices.

Once everything is nicely ground up, mix in the salt.

Dice up the onion. I love dicing onions.

I hope you do too, because I certainly do a lot of that on this here blog.

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the mustard seeds . . .

. . . and when they start to pop, add the diced onion.

Note: the smell of mustard seeds heating is simply wonderful. And totally not what you’re thinking it might be if you’ve never smelled it before.

Cook the onion for 6-8 minutes, until the onion is softened and starting to brown. Add the marinated chicken with any accumulated juices to the pot, and stir fry for 4-5 minutes.

Add the dry spice mix . . .

. . . and stir it around until the chicken is evenly coated.

Cover the pot, turn the heat down to low, and cook for 30 minutes, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot about every 7 minutes to avoid burning the sauce.

You may be thinking to yourself: but wait! There’s practically no sauce involved! Where is this ‘curry sauce’ that’s supposed to happen?

Well, the liquid released from the chicken and onion and such will somehow magically make things work. Just believe me. And believe Prerna. She’s an expert.


During this half an hour, the chicken will cook through and the curry sauce will thicken. Use this time to wash and chop up the cilantro:

Once the timer dings, make sure the chicken is cooked, and stir in a nice handful of chopped cilantro.

Serve over rice!

It’s so good. I never would have guessed that such a great sauce could happen with vinegar and some spices.

It’s so good that I kept uncontrollably snapping almost identical pictures.

It may be slightly swamp colored, but once you eat it, you will understand that true beauty lies within.

Seriously. Take a bite!

Guys. Oh guys. Make it.

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