Beef Vindaloo [project #226]


My husband is a finicky eater when it comes to Indian and Thai food. He really likes Thai, but doesn’t like it too spicy. Indian food is less liked because of the curry powder that he’s associated with Indian. He wasn’t a big fan of paneer, or a few other Indian dished that I’ve done, but the spiciest of them all, that one he really likes. I served this to him in the pocket of whole wheat naan with cucumber julienned and a touch of Greek yogurt and he cannot get enough of it! My next step is going to be making this vegetarian with tofu or lentils, and then maybe trying it with chicken.

This particular vindaloo was made by Aarti Sequeira and she said it was Goan, from the Goa region in India. The interesting this about this dish is that it utilizes vinegar (traditionally it would have been wine) as a heat component. Because vinegar is a highly volatile compound it quickly evaporates when it hits your mouth, giving the sensation of extreme heat and then it quickly evaporates and leaves the curry to do its slow heating work. I’ve seen this at on a spicy shrimp dish at a sushi restaurant too. I think its a rather clever way of imparting heat without regretting it too much the next day. 😀

Beef Vindaloo: Total Time 1 hour and 20 minutes: Active Time: 20 minutes: Serves 4-6

Wet Masala (Spice Blend):

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 5 allspice berries
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 4 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne, to taste… more if to taste very hot
  • 1 heaping tbsp. Ginger Garlic Paste, recipe follows, or 6 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped and 1-inch thumb fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. canola oil

The remaining:

  • 1 medium red onion, sliced very thinly
  • 1 serrano pepper, sliced in half
  • 2 lbs. boneless beef top sirloin, trimmed of all excess fat, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. For the wet masala: In a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast the cumin seeds, allspice berries, cloves, and peppercorns until fragrant, about 1 minute. Pour into a spice grinder and process until powdered. In a small food processor or blender, combine the toasted spice mix and the rest of the wet masala ingredients. Process until smooth.
  2. Place a large (preferably nonstick) pot over high heat and add the oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions and serrano pepper. Stirring frequently, saute the onions until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Don’t let them burn! Turn the heat down to medium-high if they’re starting to burn.
  3. Add the ground wet masala- it will sizzle wildly- so be careful. Stir vigorously and turn down the heat if it’s bubbling too furiously. Don’t wash the food processor bowl yet. Keep stirring, with short pauses, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the masala comes together as one mass, about 2 minutes. Also, you may see little droplets of oil on the perimeter of the masala. That’s awesome.
  4. Quickly add the meat and stir, coating the meat in the masala. Stir and cook about 5 minutes until the meat browns.
  5. Remember that dirty food processor bowl? Fill it with 1 cup of hot water (from the tap is fine), swirl it around so it picks up any leftover masala, and pour that into the pot. Add salt and pepper, stir, bring the curry to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer. Cover and cook 30 minutes. Then cook with the lid ajar for another 10 minutes to thicken the gravy slightly. Check the meat at the end of the cooking time; it should be tender and not chewy at all. Adjust the salt if you like, and serve over rice or with chapatis (whole wheat griddle bread).

For the Ginger-Garlic Paste:
1/2 cup cloves garlic, whole
1/2 cup fresh ginger, peeled, 1/2-inch slices
1/4 cup canola oil
Throw the garlic, ginger, and canola oil in a mini-food processor and let it go until it forms a semi-smooth paste. There will still be tiny little pieces in there, but overall, it should resemble a paste.

Save what you don’t use in a small glass jar. It should last in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks. It’s a delicious addition to marinades, pasta sauces, stir fry sauces, slow-cooker recipes, gravy etc. We always had a jar of this stuff in our fridge growing up.


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