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Chicken in Vindaloo Yogurt Sauce

September 20, 2011

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If you’re looking for a simple way to fancy-up your protein at dinner time, then look no further. I found this gem of a recipe on Ruth Reichl’s blog, and it’s officially a keeper.

Chopped Cilantro and Mint for Chicken in Vindaloo Yogurt Sauce

The dish is remarkably easy to make, but incredibly tasty. (It’s hard to go wrong, really, with yogurt and cilantro.) The yogurt sauce makes the chicken so tender, it practically falls off the bone. The vindaloo spices add heat, and the cilantro and mint give it that extra kick of freshness. My mouth is watering all over again just writing about it…

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After I got over my initial surprise that Ruth Reichl (former restaurant critic of The New York Times and editor of Gourmet) would use bottled vindaloo paste, I decided to give this recipe a try. Unfortunately, I made this choice after a bout of indecision at the grocery store that resulted (not unusually for me) in my arriving home with about two thirds of the ingredients for each of two or three different meals. Long story short: the first time I made this chicken, I didn’t have any vindaloo paste.

Cilantro, Mint, and Yogurt for Chicken in Vindaloo Yogurt Sauce

Of course, I wasn’t going to let that stop me; I always feel a little guilty using pre-made pastes or sauces anyway. I simply googled about twelve different results for vindaloo curry, zoomed in on photos of vindaloo paste jars with ingredient labels, and made up my own!*

Cilantro, Mint, and Yogurt with Vindaloo Paste

Let me save you the trouble, though, before you get carried away by some d.i.y. dream: the second time around, I bought a jar of vindaloo paste, and man was it better.

Cilantro, Mint, and Yogurt with Vindaloo Paste

I’m not saying the moral of the story is to buy the pre-made stuff; I’m just saying that my own made up vindaloo paste still needs a little perfecting. This Indian chicken recipe, though, is already about as perfect as it can get.

Chicken in Vindaloo Yogurt Sauce
* My homemade vindaloo paste contained:
¼ tsp. each of:   ground black pepper, tumeric, cardamon
½ tsp. each of:   salt, cinnamon, mustard seeds, ground ginger, fresh pressed garlic
¾ tsp. each of:   fresh chopped onion, fresh chopped jalapeño pepper
1 tsp. each of:    cumin, coriander, cayenne, fresh grated ginger, vinegar
(Next time, I think I’d substitute apple cider vinegar for the white vinegar, and perhaps add 1 tsp. of tamarind as well.)

Chicken in Vindaloo Yogurt SaucePin it!

Print brown basmati rice recipe. (PDF)
Print chicken recipe. (PDF)


Brown Basmati Rice

(Serves 2-3 as an accompaniment to a meal)

~ ½ cup brown basmati rice, rinsed
~ water (I use a 120-130% water-to-rice ratio for brown rice, so a little over ½ cup water for ½ cup rice)
~ ½ Tbsp. butter or oil
~ pinch of salt
~ 1 bay leaf (OPTIONAL)

How to make it:

1. Place rice, water, butter or oil, salt, and (optionally) a bay leaf, into a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Briefly stir the butter and salt into the rice, then cover the pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Keep a close watch– it should only take 2-3 minutes to boil because of the small amount of water.

Making Brown Basmati Rice

2. As soon as it comes to a boil, give it one more stir, then replace the lid, and bring the heat down to the lowest it will go. Simmer covered for 20 minutes for brown rice (only 15 min. for white rice), until it looks like all the water has evaporated, but before the rice starts looking dry.

3. Move the pot from the burner, but keep the lid on, letting the rice steam for another 5 minutes until fluffy. Remove the bay leaf before serving.

Print this recipe (Brown Basmati Rice)! (PDF)

Cilantro, Mint, and Yogurt for Chicken in Vindaloo Yogurt Sauce

Chicken in Vindaloo Yogurt Sauce
(Adapted from this post on Ruth Reichl’s blog.)

(Serves 2-3, unless you double it…)

~ 6 whole chicken legs
~ ⅔ cup greek yogurt (or whole milk yogurt)
~ ½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
~ ½ cup fresh mint, chopped
~ 2-3 tsp. vindaloo paste (or more, to taste)
~ salt and pepper, to taste
~ pinch of ground chili flakes (OPTIONAL)

Cilantro and Mint for Chicken in Vindaloo Yogurt Sauce

How to make it:

1. Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees.

2. Pull or cut the skin off the chicken legs.

3. Chop up the cilantro and mint, and stir them into the yogurt. Add the vindaloo paste (Ruth Reichl says “a few good dollops”), some salt and pepper, and some ground chili flakes if you want it extra spicy.

Making Chicken in Vindaloo Yogurt SauceMaking Chicken in Vindaloo Yogurt Sauce

4. Slather the yogurt sauce over the chicken legs, and place them into an aluminum-foil lined baking dish (8×8″ for 6 legs, or 9×13″ for 12).

5. Roast the chicken for 30-35 minutes. Serve warm with rice.

Print this recipe (Chicken in Vindaloo Yogurt Sauce)! (PDF)

Chicken in Vindaloo Yogurt SaucePin it!

Related recipe posts:

Chana Masala Masala Dosa with Potato Curry Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Figs Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt
Chana Masala Masala Dosa with Potato Curry Chicken Tagine with Chickpeas, Chard, and Figs Skillet-Baked Eggs with Garlicky Yogurt
16 Comments leave one →
  1. Donna permalink
    September 20, 2011 11:50 am

    Looks great even though as you know, I don’t like cilantro.

    • September 20, 2011 2:53 pm

      Thanks! You could still try making it just using mint…

  2. Sandhya permalink
    September 21, 2011 2:22 am

    i recommend also adding a pinch of turmeric and some cumin seeds into the uncooked basmati rice. then it will come out in a nice yellow color (turmeric has good health benefits as well) and the cumin seeds in the rice, as you know, is a typical indian touch. the nice thing is that this step adds practically no extra time.

    • September 21, 2011 8:49 am

      Thanks, Sandhya! I will definitely try that next time. And then maybe I’ll write up a revised “recipe” (if I can call it that…) for Basmati rice in some future blog post, too.

  3. November 11, 2012 3:17 pm

    Yum this looks amazing :-)

    • November 12, 2012 8:56 am

      Thanks! This is one of my older posts, so the photos don’t do it justice… I keep meaning to update them (and I do make this often!), but it smells so good, I always just want to dig in right away instead of pausing to take more pictures. :)

    • October 23, 2013 11:19 am

      …and just (finally) updated the photos! :)


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