Chicken Vindaloo Vesuvius

September  8, 2013
6 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 4 to 5
Author Notes

As a kid, being able to handle spicy food was a badge of honor that I wore with much pride! Even now, I have this (entirely silly) sense of pride when I order things "Thai hot" or "5 stars", smugly telling the hesitant server that I can handle the heat! Given my love of all things spicy, it should come as no surprise that I am absolutely obsessed with vindaloo, the classic Indian dish known for its spicy kick. The internet had loads of recipes to get me started; Madhur Jaffrey also had a fantastic recipe that I loved. I made it with pork, chicken, even with tofu! I loved them all!

This Vindaloo Vesuvius is the result of all the tweaking I have made to suit the dish to my taste. I knew I wanted a mellower vinegar for the marinade, so I went with the rice vinegar. Since I like things extra spicy, I also added heat through a bunch of different means: cayenne, black pepper, Serranos, spicy mustard, and all the warming spices. However, this dish also needed a little taming and that’s why I decided to add the cashew cream, so that the vindaloo would have a lingering heat, as well as a smooth, rich finish. Enjoy! —Madhuja

Test Kitchen Notes

I have tried many Indian curry recipes and have inevitably felt that they fell short of my restaurant-quality expectations. This recipe was a much-welcomed exception. The spiciness builds with each bite, but is mellowed out by the cashew cream. That cashew cream -- oh my. Such fantastic flavor. Bottom line: this is one I'll be making on a regular basis. Amazing. —LoganEatsFood

What You'll Need
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken drumsticks, skin off
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground clove
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 3 Serrano chiles, roughly chopped up
  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup cashews, soaked in water for 2 to 3 hours
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Vegetable oil, for sauteing
  • Kosher salt
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish
  1. Add the vinegar, garlic, ginger, all the spices, mustard, and chopped Serranos to a food processor and purée until very smooth. Make a couple of incisions on each drumstick, just so that the marinade can get deep into the meat. Rub the paste all over the meat. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. This would also be a great time to start soaking the cashews!
  2. Add vegetable oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they start to get brown at the edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add the chicken and all the marinade and sauté, stirring frequently for about 2 to 4 minutes, until the spices are intensely aromatic. You may need to add a splash of water if you see the paste sticking to the bottom of the pan -- don't let those spices burn!
  3. Add the chicken stock and gently simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. Keep the lid off and stir every few minutes.
  4. While the chicken is simmering, make the cashew cream. Add the cashews, heavy cream, and a splash of water to a blender and purée into a smooth mixture.
  5. Add the cashew cream to the pot once the meat is very tender. Keep simmering for another couple of minutes, until the sauce has the desired consistency (I like mine quite thick). Check for salt. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately with steamed rice. Enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Ashley To Breen
    Ashley To Breen
  • Kellia Brinson
    Kellia Brinson
  • kangoid
  • Helene
  • barcelona

55 Reviews

Ashley T. April 20, 2020
Absolutely amazing! I tried to use almonds the 3rd time I'm making it. It is nuttier and tastes as good! Instead of drumsticks, I uses chicken tights.
Madhuja May 1, 2020
Thank you so much for trying my recipe and reporting back! I am so glad you enjoyed the dish! :)
studionn February 22, 2020
I definitely will make this again. It's perfect in every way. Thank you! There is only one down side to this recipe... my family ate it all and now there are no leftovers. :(
Madhuja February 22, 2020
Thank you so much for trying my recipe! Make sure you make a double batch the next time! :)
Kellia B. June 20, 2019
Delicious! I've made it a couple of times with slight substitutions here and there (used thighs instead/subbed jalapeños/subbed cashew cream with a can of full fat coconut milk) with great success. I cut the amount of cumin in half since I find it to be overwhelming with the full amount. It's pretty spicy, so I made a yogurt sauce to dollop on top and cool it all down.
Jenn October 8, 2015
I had great success making this last night! I used a whole chicken so I would have both white and dark meat which worked quite nicely. I also did try substituting the heavy cream for coconut milk and that also worked really well. And I used Dijon mustard instead of spicy brown. Served it up with some rice and roasted cauliflower and it was all awesome! i have a bunch of leftover sauce which I'm going to save to throw a rotisserie chicken or veggies into soon
Madhuja October 8, 2015
Thank you so much for trying my recipe and reporting back! I too love to mix up veggies and meat with leftover sauce - perfect for easy meals! :)
eternalgradstudent January 11, 2015
This was really wonderful! I would up the heat a little (my winter chilis were maybe too mild). And I think next time I'd use yogurt or sour cream in place of the cream. But this will definitely be repeated! Thanks for a great, easy to follow recipe!
Madhuja January 11, 2015
Thank you so much for trying my recipe! I am so happy you liked it! :)
amy November 10, 2014
This was delicious! Had to sub a combo of milk and sour cream for the heavy cream, and used chicken legs rather than drumsticks. This is definitely a keeper!
Madhuja November 10, 2014
Thank you so much for reporting back! Adding milk and sour cream is such a neat idea! I am so glad you liked the recipe! :)
Annette C. August 13, 2014
Great recipe. Had to substitute the cashews with almonds but it worked out great. Greta family meal. My son kept sneaking pieces of chicken while I was trying to plate it. Will definitely make again.
Madhuja August 22, 2014
Thank you so much for trying my recipe! I am so glad you liked it! :)
SweetTooth April 25, 2014
Really excellent! I admit, I was a little worried when the chicken was simmering and the sauce didn't cover it completely, but it worked out beautifully. It was quite spicy, but I made enough cashew cream that I could temper it to what I wanted. My family loved it! The only thing I need to make sure to do next time is to great rid of tendons and pigments in the chicken beforehand (since I tore the chicken off the bone while it was in the sauce). Great recipe!
Madhuja April 26, 2014
I am so glad your family liked it! Making extra cashew cream is such a great idea! :)
kangoid April 14, 2014
I like Vindaloo for all the same reasons as the author and tried this recipe the other night. Wow! This is the best Vindaloo I've ever had, moving to #1 ahead of a Vindaloo I had at an Indian restaurant at Piccadilly Circus in London. It is everything a Vindaloo should be. It is packed with heat, but each and every addition of heat also comes with tremendous flavor, giving the dish an incredible depth. The spicy brown mustard is genius. I literally could not eat this fast enough it was so flavorful. This, and Vij Family's Chicken Curry are the two best curries I've ever had, and I can't believe I can make such quality at home. This is the first recipe I've tried from this site and, if it's any indication, I will be making many more.

I think the next time I make this I will use ghee instead of vegetable oil to go for even more richness. For some reason, I also detected a hint of lemon at the end which is odd since there's not a gram of lemon in the recipe. It makes me consider adding lemongrass to the paste. Delicious!
Madhuja April 14, 2014
Thank you so much for the lovely comment! I am so glad you enjoyed it! :)
Helene March 28, 2014
This is definitely a restaurant worthy recipe and I'll be making it again. My boyfriend & I like heat but we would suggest using only 2 serrano chilis to bring the level down a bit. I don't know how anyone could even decipher the flavor of mustard when there are so many other dominate flavors in this dish.
Madhuja March 29, 2014
Thank you for trying my recipe, Helene! You are right, the dish should not taste overwhelmingly of mustard, but all the flavors should be harmonious. Mustard is just one of the various sources of heat in this dish. Hope this helps! :)
barcelona March 27, 2014
Looks great! However, so much vinegar? Is the final dish sour/vinegary?
Madhuja March 27, 2014
Not at all! The long simmer makes sure that the taste mellows out. Besides, the rice vinegar is sweeter than others, so the final dish doesn't taste vinegary at all!:)
Shalini March 26, 2014
This looks so good. Love the idea of smoked paprika and prepared mustard. Now to combat my laziness in order to make it...pronto!
Madhuja March 26, 2014
This is the perfect thing to make when you are feeling a bit lazy - the marinade does all the work!:)
indieculinary February 9, 2014
Saved! I am always on the lookout for a killer Vindaloo.
Madhuja February 9, 2014
Enjoy! :)
shawn C. January 8, 2014
What do you mean when you refer to: Spicy Brown Mustard. Dijon? Dry Mustard? I also have a Deli Style Spicy Brown Mustard. Of the three, which would be best?
Madhuja January 8, 2014
I would go with the Deli Style Spicy Brown Mustard! :)
Cate January 7, 2014
Hi Madhuja! I prepared this dish last night and it was well received. For me, however, the prepared mustard seemed to predominate even though I used less than the called for amount. Brilliant combination of spices otherwise and I know I'll make this again although I think I'll substitute a small measurement of whole mustard seed instead. Will let you know!
Madhuja January 7, 2014
Hi Cate! Thanks for trying my recipe! So sorry that the mustard was a little overpowering for you - maybe different brands have varying levels of pungency? I hope you like it better with the mustard seeds! :)
Cate January 8, 2014
No apologies, Madhuja!! Everyone loved it! Finding your recipes and others on Foods52 has been wonderful inspiration!
Madhuja January 8, 2014
I am so glad to hear that! Being a part of Food52 has been a lot of fun for me too! :)
Megha November 13, 2013
Hi-- I am DEFINITELY getting around to making this amazing looking recipe this weekend :) 2 more questions for you if you don't mind answering
1. In terms of the mustard, do you think a Dijon mustard would be okay?
2. Do you think I can use whole milk instead of heavy cream?

Thank you!
Madhuja November 13, 2013
I think Dijon mustard would work just fine, Megha! I would not use milk as the recipe calls for quite a bit of vinegar, which might curdle the milk. Let me know how it turned out! :)
20ozMocha October 16, 2013
This was incredible. But next time, I have to double the cashew cream- very little of it survived till it was time to add it to the chicken... (hangs head in shame)
Madhuja October 17, 2013
I am so glad you liked it! :)
ktjk October 10, 2013
This looks awesome. Have you ever tried this with a coconut milk or other dairy-free alternative?
Madhuja October 10, 2013
I have made vindaloo with coconut milk and it was great! :)
Megha October 10, 2013
This looks fantastic, looking forward to trying ti this weekend! Do you think it would be okay if I soaked the cashews overnight?
Madhuja October 10, 2013
Sure! Hope you enjoy it! :)
QueenSashy October 2, 2013
I made it, I loved it, I will cherish it forever!
Madhuja October 7, 2013
Oh, I am so happy to hear that! Thank you!:) (Sorry for the late reply - I am traveling, with very sporadic internet access!)