Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chicken Vindaloo - Madhur Jaffreys Ultimate Curry Bible

My darling S loves his curries, and he can be won over in an instant, when he comes home and smells a curry I become the best person ever ever ever! I decided to have a flip through Madhur Jaffreys book, the Ultimate Curry Bible, which I still havent cooked from! Its got such a great array of recipes in that book, for any lover of curry and spice its definately a book you want to look at.

I was looking through the poultry section because I had chicken breast in the fridge that needed using... I know that chicken breast isnt the best thing to be using in a curry because they dry out so easily, but we had planned on just grilling them for wraps but plans changed! I settled on the duck vindaloo, because I had everything I needed for it, and S loves vindaloos and orders it ALL the time, so I knew he'd be happy after a long day nerding out at uni! Ok so I had everything I needed cept duck... I subbed chicken. Ill let you know how that went later in the post!

First things first, heres the recipe!

Duck vindaloo
Serves 6

1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp bright red paprika
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
4 tbsp corn or peanut oil
1 x 2.7kg duck, jointed and partially skinned
1/2 tsp whole brown mustard seeds
1/2 tsp whole fenugreek seeds
15 fresh curry leaves, if available
2 medium onions, about 285g, peeled and sliced into fine half-rings
2 tbsp peeled and finely grated fresh ginger
10 medium cloves garlic, peeled and crushed to a pulp
2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
120ml cider vinegar
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar

Mix together the turmeric, cumin, paprika, coriander, cayenne pepper and garam masala in a small bowl and set aside.

Pour the oil into a large, wide, lidded pan and set over a medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, put in as many duck pieces, skin side down, as the pan will hold easily in a single layer. Lightly brown the duck, about 3-4 minutes per side, and remove to a bowl. Brown all the duck pieces this way and remove.

Add the mustard and fenugreek seeds to the hot fat and, as soon as the mustard seeds start to pop, which will happen in a matter of seconds, put in the curry leaves and onions. Stir and fry them until the onions begin to turn brown at the edges. 

Now put in the ginger and garlic. Stir and fry for a minute. Add the mixed spices from the small bowl and stir for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring, until they have softened. Scrape the bottom of the pan as you do this.

Now add the browned duck pieces, the vinegar, salt, sugar and 475ml water. Stir and bring to the boil. 

Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook gently for 45 minutes, lifting the lid occasionally to stir. 

Increase the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, a bit more vigorously, stirring more frequently, for a further 30 minutes or until the duck is tender and the sauce has thickened slightly. Remove as much fat as possible before serving.

Leftovers ready for lunch tomorrow! S had coriander and fresh chilli all over his but it was spicy enough for me without the chilli and I haaaaaaaaaaate coriander!!

Now, I changed this recipe slightly as I had no duck and used chicken instead. I found that there was too much vinegar in this recipe for the chicken. If it were duck Im sure it would have been fine, because its so fatty and you need something acidic to cut through the richness, but the chicken, and chicken breast mind, has very little fat and its not necessary to have that much vinegar. I would cut it down to 50ml next time and add more if I need it. If you choose to follow the recipe to the letter then youll find the vinegar far too strong, I had to add more sugar and more tomatoes. It was still a touch too vinegary - but it was still really nice, S actually said he really liked it that way. 

I cooked this FAR less than the recipe stated. Chicken breasts cant take being cooked for the length of time specified so I halved it. Breast isnt really the best meat for this recipe, because the sauce benefits from being allowed to thicken up and by that time the chicken has dried out a bit. I would recommend using meat on the bone for this recipe, or at the very least, thighs. It came out fine, but for me, being a bit picky, I noticed the dryness. I knew it was going to be a bit dry but had a go anyway - always the optimist!

Being that I didnt use duck, when I was frying off the spices there wasnt enough oil in the pan to do it properly, due to the lack of duck fat. Next time Id add a bit more when frying the spices, not much but just enough to wet the pan a bit more.

Smaller things, I used spring onions instead of white onions as theyre just what I had. I also used canned tomatoes rather than fresh as I didnt have any - it turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I needed to use the extra liquid that the canned toms have to counter the vinegar! 

I also found out that I had no cayenne pepper - I thought I had some, I might do, but the state of my tiny little pantry cupboard, I wouldnt be surprised if its in there I just have no idea where it is! Instead I used ground chillies, as the cayenne was the only thing providing heat, so chilli seemed a suitable substitution.

Looking back I really didnt have everything, did I?!

Anyway this was a really nice curry, S loved it, it was nice and saucy and I think its very versatile - it would be great with duck obviously, as well as lamb or beef. It was really simple to make and once youve got the indian spices its a real pantry, stand by meal. Its a sauce that can handle being cooked down alot longer than I cooked it, so would work well with cheaper cuts of meat that need longer slower cooking.

Id be happy to make this recipe again - however there are so many others in the book that Id like to try I dont know when Ill get round to it!


  1. Looks great. I like the photos of the ingredients and the step of the preparation. Thanks!