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Vindaloo: browning the garlic/ginger, THEN the chicken?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Hey guys. I made Vindaloo chicken yesterday, made it before several time, and it's always a success. However!....

The recipe I have (can't remember where I got it from) says to make the vindaloo paste (no problem there), then heat the pan, add a little oil, add the garlic/ginger/water paste and let it brown a little, then add the coriander/turmeric and wait 1/2mn or so, then add the chicken and brown the pieces, then add the vindaloo paste and tomato sauce (and potatoes if using).

I've never been really successful with that part: When I brown the ginger/garlic/water paste (just a little water to turn it into a paste - about 1 Tbsp for 10 garlic cloves and 1 inch ginger piece), it quickly starts sticking to the bottom of the pan (doesn't make a difference whether I use non-stick or stainless steel), then I add the spices and it sticks a little more, then I'm supposed to brown the chicken pieces in this sticky mess?

Yesterday for the first time I tried it backward: brown the chicken pieces, then add the ginger/garlic paste and brown some more, then the spices... well at least I had a chance to brown the chicken correctly, but again upon adding the paste and spices it turns into a sticky mess - quickly deglazed by adding a little water then tomato sauce and vindaloo paste.

So I'm wondering if there's a better way - or if once again my technique is at fault (too hot? wrong quantity of oil?) - I have the pan on medium-high and use about 3-4 Tbspn oil, which is a lot I know - it's just I'm trying to avoid things sticking to the pan.
post #2 of 15
I like to brown the paste in a different pan. Use a Kadai, or Karahi... a small wok shaped pan with a heavy bottom about a half inch thick. Since you're in Los Angeles you should have no problem getting one. A cast iron one is best IMO.
post #3 of 15
The problem is the water in the garlic/ginger/water paste.

Marinate and season the chicken. Wipe off any yogurt (if using) which remains from the marinade. Brown the chicken in oil or ghree almost as brown as you like it. If using, add your onions, sliced whisper thin, and cook until limp.

The chicken should have released a fair amount of moisture, and the onions too. But if the pan is dry add a little more ghee or oil. Now add your vindaloo paste and cook the spices. Cook them until all the raw is off. Well cooked, sauteed spices are a hallmark of good Indian cooking.

Add the tomato paste, and cook until it darkens. NOW, add the garlic/ginger paste and turn the mix frequently.

Cooking Lesson Time: Garlic and ginger burn easily and become bitter. As a rule you don't want to add garlic to a hot pan until the liquid will follow shortly after. Indian food is no different. As soon as the garlic is fragrant, begin the deglaze.

For a Goanese vindaloo, add some vinegar to the liquid.

"Vindaloo" in the UK and the US is as much a level of heat as a particular type of recipe. The greater scheme of "curries," or tikka masalas as we might better say, includes "vindaloo" and "phal" as the hottest. Think of vindaloo as about as hot as a typical Indian or Pakistani would be comfortable with, and phal as the sort of adolescent dare chili-heads (like us) can't resist.

In Goa, which is the home of vindaloos, they like them trembling on the edge of too hot for sanity (as well as vinegary).

Of course it's helpful to try the real deal before you make it at home. There's a restaurant in Artesia on Pioneer Blvd., in the heart of "Little Bombay," called "Ashoka the Great." They have a goat curry on the everyday buffet which is about right for a typical (but non-Goanese) vindaloo.

There are a number of really good restaurants in Artesia. Nearly all of them bring a level of intensity and you won't find in other parts of SoCal. They don't compromise the food to accomodate American tastes, because they don't have to. It's worth the drive, give it a shot.

If you ever run into a Goanese style fish, seafood curry, or pork vindaloo in SoCal let me know where -- I'm there.

post #4 of 15
Perfectly true, with one minor additional note, which is that the flavor of slightly charred garlic can be delightful in certain situations. Scorched ginger I've not seen.

One quick example: take several fat cloves of garlic, peel and crush a bit, and toss in a blazing-hot wok with a little oil. Toss the pan for a bit, until the garlic is dark brown all over, i.e. just starting to scorch. Now toss in a bunch of washed and lightly drained spinach cut in 2-inch bands and stems, and stir-fry with a generous pinch of salt. Serve as soon as the spinach is done, by which point the garlic will be quite definitely scorched. It's delicious, and the garlic cloves have an extraordinary barbecue-like flavor.
post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 
That's a great idea - never thought of that. Thanks!
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Right - but isn't the point of that water to be able to cook the paste without scorching it and getting the bitter flavor?
Wow - so no frying the garlic/ginger paste? I'm guessing this will yield a totally different taste. Or maybe, as Kuan suggested, fry/brown the paste aside in it own pan before adding it.
Well I'll keep my eyes open! Goat vindaloo huh? Never had that!
post #7 of 15
There is such a thing, but BDL was referring to food from Goa, on the coast of India.
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Understood, but I was talking about that part:
post #9 of 15
I'm trying to use "vindaloo" in two ways. One as the specific, vinegary and very hot, Goanese dish; and the other as a level of Anglo-American-Indian "curry" hotness that slots just below phal.

I've had Goanese food and am not sure if I could classify the goat curry at Ashoka The Great as particularly Goan -- not enough vinegar. On the other hand, it's definitely spicy-hot, even by my standards. FWIW, ATG does so a pretty darn good "Lamb Vindalu" as an ala carte entree which is very similar to the "Goat Curry."

My whole classification scheme could be wrong. I got it mostly from reading about "curry" in the UK, but it seems to work well communicating with waiters.

Don't trip over the phal,
post #10 of 15

Climbing that Stairway to Heaven

Here's a hierarchy of curries by spiciness, as used in the UK, from Wiki:

Korma/Kurma - mild, yellow in colour, with almond and coconut powder
Curry - medium, brown, gravy-like sauce
Dupiaza/Dopiaza - medium curry the word means "double onion" referring to the boiled and fried onions used as its primary ingredient.
Pasanda - a mild curry sauce made with cream, coconut milk, and almonds.
Roghan Josh (from "Roghan" (fat) and "Josh" (energy/heat - which as in English may refer to either 'spiciness' or temperature)) - medium, with tomatoes
Bhuna - medium, thick sauce, some vegetables
Dhansak - medium/hot, sweet and sour sauce with lentils (originally a Parsi dish). This dish often also contains pineapple.
Madras - fairly hot curry, red in colour and with heavy use of chili powder
Pathia - generally similar to a Madras with lemon juice and tomato purée
Jalfrezi - onion, green chili and a thick sauce
Vindaloo - this is generally regarded as the classic "hot" restaurant curry, although a true Vindaloo does not specify any particular level of spiciness. The name has European origins, derived from the Portuguese "vinho" (wine) and "alho" (garlic)
Phaal - extremely hot.
Tindaloo - Extremely hot in a similar vein to Phaal. Generally only found around Bradford and the north in general.
Samber - confined to North West England - with lemon juice and lentils.
Afghan - with chickpeas.

post #11 of 15
What I would suggest is to brown the skin side of the chix and when you are ready to turn it over than add the garlic/ginger paste. By the time the chix is nice and brown the paste will be as well and than you can add your tomato paste. Without the cooking of the ginger and garlic you are going to have a totally different flavor, especially in the quantities you mentioned in the beginning of the post.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
post #12 of 15
I'm all in favor of cooking the garlic and ginger before adding the liquid, but am very careful about browning garlic because it becomes bitter so easily. Usually, I don't add the garlic until just before the liquid, and almost never take it any darker than a very light brown. True with chopped garlic, trebly true with garlic paste. It burns very easily.

My way is a good way, but just one good way among many. I'm not suggesting that others don't work as well or better.

It appeared to me that French Fries' cooking process had a lot of high heat cooking before he got enough liquid in the pan to at least keep the garlic paste from sticking. French Fries asked if the liquid in the garlic/ginger wasn't enough to prevent over-cooking. I don't believe it was. In my experience, if it sticks, it will scorch. That's why I suggested switching the order around.

post #13 of 15
Much misunderstood is Vindaloo. Origianally a Portuguese dish taken to the West coast of india in the late 16th century along with chillis (which were unknown in India at the time) and Christianity. The original dish was pork marinated in wine and garlic (Carne de Vinha d' Alhos) and Vindaloo evolved from this.

Unfortunately in Western Indian restaurants it's just code for 'very hot curry' (of indeterminate pedigree)
post #14 of 15
Oh yes forgot

I have a good description and recipe on my website that I have just started

Mod note: Andy, are you here just to drive traffic to your website?

post #15 of 15
My method for browing the garlic, if you really want -- BROWN AND FRAGRANT -- garlic is to start with the oil, cold, not hot. Then turn your heat to medium (not medium low, not medium high), just medium heat. After a few minutes the oil will heat up with the garlic and you can monitor the brown-est of the garlic as to how you want it.

In stir frying, it is garlic first, then onion, right? Then the meat. In vindaloo, what I do is garlic, ginger and onion...in that order. i just don't blend them all together at first. First thing first...cold oil, garlic, ginger then onion. I will then brown my chicken with this mixture for the taste to seep in...then the rest of the other ingredients follows.
Just the way I cook...:mullet:
Bill and Izzie: Proud parents of a soldier.
Looking back on all the mistakes I've made in my life, all I can say is I've gotten a lot of miles out of stupid.
Bill and Izzie: Proud parents of a soldier.
Looking back on all the mistakes I've made in my life, all I can say is I've gotten a lot of miles out of stupid.
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