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!


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


Step 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!

Step 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!

Step 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.

Step 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.

Step 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!