Chicken Vindaloo is an extremely popular curry from the Goan region, in the western coast of India. It is a local adaptation of the Portuguese dish, carne de vinha d'alhos, which literally means, meat marinated in wine and garlic. Mild Indian red chillies, blended with aromatics and vinegar, give this dish its signature taste.
Traditional and Authentic Vindaloo Recipe
Traditionally vindaloo is prepared with pork. Natives from the Konkani region in Goa prepare a marinade by pureeing together pre-soaked dried red chillies, local Goan wine called Feni, tamarind paste, fresh garlic and ginger, and an assortment of toasted Indian whole spices, called Garam Masala.
They marinate the pork meat in this mix for a few hours. Then, they cook the pork in this marinade, till it forms a rich vindaloo curry.
Weeknight Variations of the Chicken Vindaloo Recipe
I adapted the traditional recipe to make Chicken Vindaloo, which my families simply adores. With a few tweaks to an authentic vindaloo recipe, I turned it into a weeknight-friendly recipe that can be made in under 30 minutes.
Should you brown the chicken or not? I get this question from many readers. Before finalizing this recipe, I actually tried a few batches where I browned the chicken pieces before adding in the sauce, but I didn't notice any major difference in taste. So, now I skip the browning process when making this dish with chicken.
How to Make Lamb Vindaloo with This Recipe
You can just as easily make Lamb Vindaloo with this recipe by increasing the cooking time and adding a step.
When I make Lamb Vindaloo using this recipe, I prepare the vindaloo sauce as per instructions. Then, I brown the lamb pieces for 3-4 minutes before adding the sauce, and then pressure cooking it. It adds a depth of flavor to the vindaloo curry.
Instant Pot Recipe for Chicken Vindaloo
This is my simplified take, an Instant Pot pressure cooker recipe, for this slow-cooked classic.
I use red wine vinegar as a substitute for the local Goan "Feni" wine and tamarind paste. Red wine vinegar has a nice sweet, tart and sharp flavor, which is a close match to the Goan wine, Feni. It also provides a subtle tart flavor, which I would otherwise get from tamarind paste.
I use whole dried asian red chillies, soak them in warm water to rehydrate them, and blend them with sautéed onions, ginger, garlic and vinegar. These chillies add warmth and flavor versus 'heat' to this dish. They have a subtle earthy and smoky flavor, which adds a unique taste to the curry.
Towards the end of the cooking process, I add a pinch of sugar, or a splash of coconut milk, which balances the flavors and elevates the flavors of this vindaloo curry.
Common Misconceptions about Vindaloo Recipe
There are two common misconceptions about the Vindaloo recipe.
The first is that it's a spicy curry. The recipe for a typical Vindaloo curry includes pureeing a handful of dried chilies, but these chilies are more for flavor and color rather than spice, a lot like paprika.
The end flavors are 'earthy and aromatic spicy', not 'hot spicy'. However, if you want to make it spicy, you can always increase the quantity of chilies, or, add a pinch or two of cayenne.
The second confusion is caused by many restaurants, by adding potato in this curry. The Hindi word for potato is "aloo", which coincidentally rhymes with the name of this curry, Vindaloo. There is no connection between potatoes and a vindaloo curry.
But, when you order this dish at your local Indian restaurant, chances are, it'll have potato cubes too 🙂
What Kind of Chilies to use for Vindaloo Recipe
I use whole Kashmiri Red Chilies for this recipe. These chilies have the perfect balance of heat, smokiness and flavor. They're mild to medium-hot in taste, which let's all the flavors shine in this curry sauce, without overpowering it.
If you cannot find these chilies, here are a few substitutes:
- A combination of dried whole Arbol and Ancho chilies, OR,
- 4-6 whole Guajillo chilies + ¼-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper powder, OR,
- 2-2.5 tablespoons of Paprika + ¼-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne powder.
What to Serve with Chicken Vindaloo
Traditionally a vindaloo curry is served with toasted dinner rolls called Pav, pronounced as Pa-aw, in Hindi. A close and delicious substitute for that would be some toasted french baguette.
I love to serve Chicken Vindaloo with Cumin Rice as my kids love this combination. We also enjoy a side of cooling Cucumber Raita with it. Try it sometime!
If you're eating a low-Carb or a Keto diet, this Keto Version of Chicken Vindaloo will be a perfect dish for you.
I combine the delicious flavors of this recipe, add cauliflower and carrots, and make a stew-like meal out of it. I don't miss the rice or naan, and it tastes divine by itself!
Chicken Vindaloo in Instant Pot
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 medium onion sliced thin
- 6 whole red dried chillies : mild chilies like Kashmiri chilies
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic crushed : ½ inch ginger + 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons olive oil or butter or ghee
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro for garnish
Instant Pot Recipe
- Soak dry chillies in ½ cup hot water. Keep aside for 10 minutes. Turn ON Instant pot on sauté mode. Add oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes, till soft. Turn off the Instant Pot. Cool onions for 5 minutes.
- Transfer the onions in a blender, add re-hydrated red chillies with their liquid, ginger-garlic paste, red wine vinegar, all dry spices, salt and sugar. Purée into a smooth paste.
- Turn ON Instant pot. Add spice purée, ½ cup water, chicken thighs and mix well. Close the lid, turn the vent to sealing position. Cook on Manual (high-pressure) for 6 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally (NR). Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with steamed rice or toasted french bread. Enjoy!
- Follow Steps 1 & 2 from the instant pot recipe above.
- Add spice purée and chicken thighs to a saucepan and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add, ½ cup water and mix well. When the curry starts simmering, cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, till the spice mix has turned into a smooth curry. Stir once or twice in between to prevent the sauce from burning at the bottom of the pan. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.
- Even though this recipe uses chilies as a base, the curry is not too spicy. It has the flavor from the chilies, not that much heat. If you prefer a milder flavor, de-seed the dry chilies before soaking them in water, OR, do half the chilies along with 1 tablespoon paprika powder.
- For chicken, I tried browning the meat before adding in the sauce, but didn't notice any major difference. So, I skip the browning process when making this dish with chicken. I do that when I'm making this with lamb though.