This fiery red looking paste is the beginning of something NICE…!! This is your bowl of complex, intense layers of flavors. Vindaloo is mistakenly defined by heat, but I believe it should be accompanied and balanced by incredible and tremendous flavors. The end result should be a pleasure to your senses. Let me introduce you to the starting point of one of the most famous curries… Vindaloo!
This Vindaloo paste, or Vindaloo masala, is just a quick stir in your blender with some common Indian spices. You might already have some in your pantry.
I like to make my curries from scratch, especially if that curry is born in India. Nothing beats the heady ritual of making your very own curry paste or homemade masala.
We don’t have the concept of ready made curry mixes in mainland India. Every time it’s made fresh and on the spot. The store brand curry powders and mixes are no match to the flavors, aromas and freshness that comes from homemade.
Just a little time spent peeling and cutting some aromatics, or toasting those spices… Then it all goes in your blender, or mortar and pestle on some days when you don’t mind a little elbow work. It will all count in the end, when you come face to face with that delicious creation of yours… That lip smacking, amazing, one of its kind curry!!
What is vindaloo?
Vindaloo… That popular Indian curry dish, be it pork or chicken or beef. Any protein you can think of, even goat, lamb or some seafood like shrimp. They have made vindaloo out of everything.
It’s an Indo-Portuguese dish that came from Goa, an Indian state on the south western coast that was a Portuguese territory for several centuries.
The name comes from the Portuguese term “carne de vinha d’ alhos”, meaning meat marinated and cooked with wine vinegar and garlic. Fast forward a few centuries and it became their beloved vindaloo, with a few local spins on the original.
So, what is this Vindaloo Paste?
Every curry begins with a masala or spice mix as it’s base. The heart of vindaloo is it’s paste, which is used to marinate the meat and is often also added to the gravy.
Vindaloo paste commonly features sweet spices like cinnamon, cloves and cardamom, along with some heat from black pepper and red chili peppers. There are also the nutty flavors of cumin, coriander, mustard and turmeric.
Chili is not the most defining spice in authentic vindaloo. In fact, they are mainly there for their vibrant color rather than heat.
All these dry spices are first toasted, then ground with fresh aromatics like ginger and garlic and some kind of vinegar.
Meat is marinated in this sour, tangy, spicy paste and cooked with plenty of caramelized onions. There you go… authentic Indian vindaloo might not be head spinning hot, like those of British curry house fame, but a harmonious balance of sweet, sour and spice.
What type of chili peppers to use
It really all depends on what’s available in your kitchen and what’s your heat or spice preference. In India, Kashmiri red chili peppers are more often used for their vibrant color. They are not especially hot, but are similar to paprika. They are easily available in Indian grocery stores, or you can order them online.
The fiery hot vindaloos you get in British curry houses often use some kind of hot fresh chilies along with dry chilies. Some prefer to use just fresh hot chilies. It all comes down to preference in the end.
Get ready for that famous Vindaloo, this is what you need
- Dried red chili peppers – We are using whole dry Kashmiri red chili peppers. In absence of this Indian favorite, you can still make it with some other chilies of your preference. just use them more or less according to their heat level or your spice tolerance.
- Fresh red chilis (optional) – Sometimes I use them for some extra heat.
- Cumin seeds
- Coriander seeds
- Mustard seeds
- Cardamom (optional, if available)
Now once you gather all the ingredients, the easy part…
How to make Vindaloo Paste
You will start by dry roasting the spices and chilies. On a medium high heat, dry roast the dry red peppers (make sure to remove the stem if any) for a minute or two till they get aromatic. Remove, let cool, break them into pieces and add them into your blender.
Now dry roast the remaining whole dried spices together, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and peppercorns. If you are missing a couple of them, it’s fine. It will still result in great vindaloo.
Dry roast till they get aromatic, about 2-3 minutes, stirring them often. Roasting them enhances all the flavors, but be careful not to burn them. Remove them into the blender.
Mix in turmeric powder, ginger, garlic, fresh red chili pepper pieces and vinegar and blend everything smooth. It will take time, but keep blending patiently till you end up with a smooth, homogeneous paste. If you happen to have a bullet in your kitchen, it does a great job.
One tip: If you don’t have whole seeds for some of the spices and have them in powdered form, you can still use them in a pinch. Just don’t dry roast the powders, blend them directly with the rest of the mix.
That’s it. There, my friends, is your very own homemade vindaloo paste. It’s the start of something to come soon, your very own Vindaloo curry… yey!!
How long can vindaloo paste be stored?
This paste lasts a couple of weeks in an airtight container in your refrigerator. It freezes well for 4-5 months if you are planning to make a big batch.
Think of all the vindaloos you can make… pork, chicken, beef, shrimp. All so delicious and easy, now that your vindaloo paste is ready to go.
Next post alert: One of my very very favorites… Pork Vindaloo, of course! Go ahead and make this paste and you will be all ready by the time vindaloo comes on GypsyPlate. New comers? If you haven’t subscribed yet, it’s easy! Just fill out the subscription form and you’ll get all these delicacies from around the world directly to your inbox. See ya soon. Over to my Pork Vindaloo…
Vindaloo Paste, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
Try some of my other great Indian Recipes!
Aloo Palak (Sautéed Spinach and Potatoes)
Gobi Matar (Cauliflower Peas Masala)
Chicken Masala Curry
Tomato Cucumber Raita
Chicken Tikka Kebabs
Chicken Chapli Kebabs
Turkey Tikka Masala
Cilantro Mint Chutney
Yellow Dal Tadka
- 8-10 dry red chili peppers (see note 2)
- 1-2 fresh red chili peppers (optional)
- 4 tsp cumin seeds
- 4 tsp coriander seeds
- 1.5 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1 inch Cinnamon
- 6-7 Cardamom pods (optional, if available )
- 8-10 Cloves
- 2 tsp Black peppercorns
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric
- 8-10 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 2 inch ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup Vinegar
- Dry roast whole dry Kashmiri red chili peppers in a skillet over medium high heat for a couple of minutes till they get aromatic. Take them out and, when cool enough to handle, cut them into pieces and place in the blender.
- Dry roast cumin, coriander, mustard, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and peppercorns together for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, till they get aromatic.
- Add roasted spices and all remaining ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth. (You may add 2 Tbsp water if needed to blend it to a smooth paste)
- This recipe makes enough paste for one batch of curry. You can multiply the recipe and freeze individual portions in an airtight container for later use.
- We used dried Kashmiri chili peppers, available in Indian grocery stores and online. They are quite mild, like paprika. You can use other dried chili peppers, but be aware that they may make your paste hotter.
- In a pinch, you can use spice powders instead of whole spices. You don't need to dry roast them. Add them directly to the blender.
- One tip: if your blender is not strong to grind the whole spices and red chilis, grind them in a spice grinder or coffee grinder (you might need a thorough clean up before your next cup of coffee). Then mix the ground spices in the regular bender along with rest of ingredients.
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