Chicken Vindaloo, the reason I cook and how she made it happen….

Chicken Vindaloo
Vindaloo with Chicken ©rory kelly

I learned curry at the hands of an Indian master named Shivani – a stunningly beautiful women from New Delhi who was instrumental in guiding me into the alchemy and storm that is cooking. I walked into her kitchen during the summer break of my 2nd year at University looking for a job washing pots, something to keep me in beer-tokens for the rest of the unseasonably hot summer I was lazing through with a few buddies in a small seaside town.

Indian women have eyes that can see your soul, they are deep dark pools…. sometimes foreboding…. often times mesmerising either way when you look into them you will become lost.

“Can you cook”?

Her question hung in the air for days, my legs were numb and my breath left me. The maelstrom of her kitchen faded and became mute, her chefs in brilliant white and blue became distant and abstract and the metallic clang of pots and pans softened and dulled. Her words wrapped me in blankets and  deep dark pools rendered me mute……

“Hey, can you cook”?

Her second prompt was accompanied by a gentle touch on my arm. Her hand, elegant and deft was accented with gold and tipped with crimson, unblemished, perfect sallow skin. Her touch (which in the real world was a thump, but I wasn’t in the real world just now) kick started my reality and coaxed words…


I couldn’t cook, but the word ‘yes’ fell from my mouth even though my brain, my mind, my survival instinct had all been working on enunciating the word ‘no’ – my heart didn’t get that particular memo, it had already offered ‘yes’ before the rest of us knew what was happening…I suppose thats what hearts do…right?

A journey began….well more a spice route……

WHAT YOU NEED: serves 2

2 large chicken fillets

1 medium red onion finely sliced

Fresh coriander

100mls chicken stock

6 chestnut mushrooms quartered.

1/3 can coconut milk

1 large tbs mango chutney

for the marinade

1 tbs natural yogurt

2 tps salt

1 tps cinnamon powder

2 tps cumin powder

2 tps sweet paprika

1 tbs tomato puree

2 tps garam masala

Juice of 1/2 lemon

For the curry paste

1/2 medium red onion

1/2 tps cracked black pepper

1 tps salt flakes

1/2 tps coriander seeds

1 tps minced ginger

2 tps tomato puree

2 cloves garlic peeled

1 tps turmeric powder

1 small mental hot chili pepper (scotch bonnet recommended) chopped

2 lugs of veg oil


Step1: Prep the chicken which will marinade for a few hours. Combine the marinade ingredients, cube the chicken and dunk it into the marinade mix – combine well, cling and sling in the fridge for a good 2-3 hours or overnight.

Step2: Make the curry paste by combining the paste ingredients and bashing to a pulp in a mortar and pestle

Step3: When you are ready to cook up add some veg oil to a wok style pan, get to screaming hot and sling in the onion. Cook out until brown and carmelised. Then add the mushroom and continue to cook for about 2 minutes or until the shrooms are soft.

Step4: Drop the heat to medium and add the paste and cook-out – continually stirring (it ain’t looking pretty at this stage)

Step5: The paste should split (the oil separates from the solids) so then add the stock and reduce by about 1/2

Step6: Finally add the coconut milk and simmer for about 5-8 minutes

Step7: As the curry is simmering skewer the chicken on metal skewers and grill until charred and cooked through, as always cut Step8: into the chicken to check.

Step9: To finish simply add the grilled chicken to the sauce and serve with a good scattering of fresh chopped coriander leaf (and stalk…do not throw that away!)





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4 thoughts on “Chicken Vindaloo, the reason I cook and how she made it happen….

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