It is a well known fact that I have little to no cooking ability, something which I have wanted to remedy for quite some time. Hailing from a long lineage of superb cooks, it is nothing short of a crime that I am unable to make anything beyond a pizza.
With this in mind, I decided on my last day off the make a change. Sliding up to one of our computers, I printed off a recipe for one of my favorite dishes, the famed fire-ball of Chicken Vindaloo. I looked at a few recipes for this Indian dish, and to my surprise found that it is in fact more frequently attributed to the culinary designs of the Portuguese, only to be brought to India and modified slightly into its more recent format. As a spice fanatic, I can think of nothing better than a well prepared plate of Vindaloo, other than one or two types of Hotpot that I had while in Sichuan. It registers high enough on the heat scale that I typically find myself sweating, but at the same time it manages to maintain the thickest of flavors. I figured it made sense to cook something that I actually enjoyed eating.
Vindaloo requires a large variety of spices, and though the majority of them are easy to find, it was not a cheap endeavor. My girlfriend and I had purchased a large amount of meat at the local butcher, and I was able to use the chicken breast that was included as part of the package. The only ingredient that gave me real trouble was the Tamarind, a long bean pod that gives the dish a strong bite, backing up the other flavors. Unable to find this in raw form, I had to use a pre-made sauce, which I would guess reduced the potency by a large factor.
The making of the dish was a matter of pure faith. Among many other things, it required three cloves of garlic and two whole onions, and I couldn’t but wonder how it would ever be edible. Here is the ingredient list:
- 1 -3 1/2 lb chicken, quartered and skinned
- salt & freshly ground black pepper
- ghee or butter
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 cups yellow onions, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons ginger powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds, ground
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups water
Despite such misgivings, the meal finally came to fruition, and although it wasn’t quite to the standard of a Indian restaurant, I found it more than satisfactory for something I didn’t think stood any chance of being good. Note to self, always mix your spices ahead of time. It was almost disastrous as we rushed to put them together while the chicken was cooking, almost confusing tablespoons for teaspoons. I want to try making the dish again in the future, but with a different recipe to see how it compares.