Chicken Vindaloo with Eggplant

I was craving something with a lot of spice tonight. I wanted something to challenge my bad mood, so the only thing worthy of the challenge would be a vindaloo. This Goan classic is full of flavour and full of spice. Not in a bad way that becomes inedible I must stress, but a full flavoured, pungent taste that is quite unique to this region. The Portuguese influence on Southern India is undeniable. Vinegar in particular gives vindaloo its unique character a tangy, sharp aftertaste which was just a perfectly lovely end to a perfectly horrible day at work!

1kg chicken thighs (cut into large chunks)
1 onion (blended into a paste)
4 long thin eggplants (cut into chunks) (or 3 cups cubed large eggplant)
3 fresh red chillies (with seeds, chopped)
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 large tomato (peeled and chopped)
1 teaspoon salt

In a pestle & mortar, crush together the chillies, garlic, cumin, mustard seeds, turmeric, pepper, chilli powder and 2 tablespoons of the vinegar until you have a smooth paste. Set aside.

Heat a large pan with the oil over a moderate heat. Cook the onion paste for 4-5 minutes until soft and lightly browned. Spoon in the curry paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken and stir fry for another 8 minutes. Add the tomato and cook for 5 minutes until thick and paste like. Pour in the remaining vinegar and 300ml warm water. Stir well, bring to a simmer then reduce the heat to low. Partially cover the pan and simmer gently for 25 minutes. Add the eggplant pieces and simmer for a further 10-15 minutes until the eggplant is soft. Remove from the heat, check for seasoning and then serve.

I served mine with some fluffy boiled basmati rice to soak up the lovely gravy. I also served a simple yellow dal alongside.

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