Things are heating up, and if they are not, give it about 12 hours, and they soon will be. Vindaloo is what I’d describe as a real enthusiast’s curry. It is one that you will be bound to remember. This isn’t a curry for the faint-hearted! How hot is Vindaloo? Quite frankly… Ridiculously hot. Today, we will tell you how the dish is made, why it’s so fiery, and explain a little about the dish’s origins.
Stuck for Time? | Just How Hot is a Vindaloo?
Vindaloo is one of the hottest curries that you can order from the menu. On a scale of 1 - 10, with 10 being the hottest, it is right up at 10/10. It includes plenty of chillies. Both fresh and powdered, as a result, it is scorching hot.
Vindaloo at a glance: -
- Base: Onion and Tomato
- Served with: Lamb, Beef or Chicken
- Flavours: Garlic, Ginger, Chilli
- Heat Level: 10/10
- Sauce Type: Thick and Smooth
- Colour: Red/Brown
If you want to know more about Vindaloo, including how it is made and tastes, read on.
What is Vindaloo, and Where does Vindaloo Come from?
Vindaloo is a really fiery curry that is served in most Indian restaurants. If you were to ask what the hottest dish on the menu is, there is a reasonable chance that Vindaloo would be the answer. The Vindaloo you’ll be served in a curry house or takeaway is actually an evolution of a dish that has its feet firmly planted in a history spanning quite a few nations.
While you might think that Vindaloo is a UK invention (similar to chicken tikka masala), it is an authentic Indian dish that originates from Goa on the west coast of India. If you want to go even further back in the original Vindaloo’s history, you’d have to look to Portugal.
Because the Portuguese occupied Goa for about 450 or so years! As a result, their culture, religion, and food amalgamated with local Indian cuisine.
The Portuguese for meat and garlic with wine is Carne de vinho d’alhos. Say it again with me “vinho d’alhos”… Sounds a bit like Vindaloo, no? In Goa, they traditionally make it with pork, but it can also be made with different meats such as beef, lamb or chicken.
You won’t tend to find pork vindaloo in the UK. Many Asian restaurants are Muslim owned, and pork is not on the menu.
Now, there wasn’t that much wine in Goa, so the local cooks were forced to use vinegar instead and used local Indian spices instead of those commonly found in Portugal. You’ll see this reflected in the current day recipe.
How hot is vinho d’alhos? Not very. How hot is Vindaloo? Hot enough to knock your socks off!
As with many Indian dishes, once it arrived on UK shores, it has been adapted somewhat, with more chilli and spice to become a British Indian restaurant-style dish.
What Ingredients Go into a Vindaloo?
There are plenty of ingredients that go into your average Vindaloo. These include: -
- Spiced oil.
- A lot of spices, including turmeric, mixed spice powder, cardamom and anise
- Garlic and ginger paste
- Tomato puree
- Marinated meat, such as chicken or lamb
- Vinegar (got to keep it authentic)
- Chilli… And I mean lots of chillies. It includes birds eye chilli, scotch bonnet and Kashmiri chilli powder.
Scotch bonnets are ridiculously hot, and Kashmiri chilli powder is hotter than your ‘regular’ chilli powder.
What Does Vindaloo Taste Like?
The overriding taste in Vindaloo is that of the chilli. In fact, I wouldn’t even say ‘taste’ as after the first spoonful, it is pretty hard to taste anything. This one will definitely have you sweating and leave you feeling hot under the collar…
That said, if you are used to spice, you might pick up the odd note of tomato, a little hint of acidity and tanginess from the vinegar, and hints of ginger and garlic.
Vindaloo is a smooth kind of curry. It isn’t chunky or served with any vegetables aside from perhaps a few pre-cooked potato chunks. It is normally a reddish-brown colour with a fairly thick sauce. It tends to be one of the oilier curries too.
Which is Hotter? A Madras or a Vindaloo?
Easily a Vindaloo. You’ll see some people claiming that madras is the hottest curry. This simply isn’t true. While madras is hot, Vindaloo wears the chilli crown. Vindaloo features scotch bonnet and birds eye chilli, not to mention a generous helping of Kashmiri chilli powder.
On the other hand…
Madras doesn’t contain scotch bonnets and overall has slightly less chilli. So, if you are looking for heat but don’t want insane, mouth scorching levels, then madras could be an excellent choice.
Is Vindaloo the Hottest Curry?
Normally Vindaloo is just about the hottest thing you can order from an Indian. The inclusion of three different types of chilli in the standard recipe ensures that it is an absolute scorcher.
There is some debate as to which the hottest curry is…
What is the Hottest Indian Curry?
Some guys claim jalfrezi is hotter than a vindaloo. Again this is a fallacy. If you read my article on jalfrezi, you’ll see that it is nowhere near as hot as a vindaloo.
There are a few curries on Indian menus that might match up to Vindaloo’s fiery reputation.
A phaal is also ridiculously hot. This, too, is made with plenty of chillies and is basically an evolved and turbocharged version of Vindaloo.
You’ll also see the occasional place selling a curry dish called sambar. Rumour has it that this is one of the hottest curries in the world.
Can Vindaloo Be Mild?
The real answer?
Yes, Vindaloo can be mild. But you’d have to travel a long way to get it. The traditional Goan dish is not as spicy as its UK counterpart. Contrary to popular belief, the Goan version doesn’t contain any potatoes either.
There is another way you can have a non-spicy vindaloo…
Why not have a go at making it yourself? By cooking Indian curry at home, you are firmly in the driver’s seat when it comes to deciding how much spice you will put in your dish. Tone it down a little, and then you’ll know what Vindaloo tastes like without the chilli!
How hot is Vindaloo? Almost inedible. It certainly counts as a ‘hot’ curry. The inclusion of serious amounts of chilli, including insanely hot Kashmiri chilli powder, means it is every bit as fierce as its reputation suggests. Prefer a milder curry? Check out my detailed guide right here.
If you don’t like heat, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Check out my article on how to cool down a hot curry.
What’s the hottest curry you’ve ever tried, and have you encountered a sambar? Let me know in the comments below!