Restaurant Style Beef Vindaloo–just like you get at your favorite Indian restaurant. It is easy and perfect for the slow cooker. Affiliate links were used in this post to link to items I am discussing.
This is definitely one of those dishes where staring at the photos weeks later, while I write this post, is making me seriously crave the dish. In this case, Restaurant Style Beef Vindaloo, a luscious, tangy, hot Indian curry from the Goa region. I don’t know if this tastes like what they would eat in India, especially because I did not get the recipe from an Indian cookbook, but rather Jennifer Newens’ Cooking with Spice: Easy Dishes From Around the World, but I do know it tasted spot on–in the most delicious way possible–for what I order at the local Indian restaurant.
The cookbook I adapted from called for pork. Interestingly, while pork is indeed one of the common meats for Vindaloo in India, here in the States it seems far more likely to be made with lamb. Having said that, any braising cut of meat (not poultry) will work well in this recipe (poultry would work but will need to be cooked for less time and will not be as luscious). The dish is spiced heavily enough that I honestly cannot tell the difference between the lamb I usually order and the more accessible beef that I made it with at home. So use what you can get, just make sure it is a good braising cut (chuck, brisket, pork shoulder, lamb shoulder, etc).
On a whim I added 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to this recipe (I usually skip it completely)–the original recipe called for 1 1/2 teaspoons. And it was still too spicy for Alex, and even a tad spicy for me and Sammy! I guess we have turned into serious weenies around here (minus John of course). And Alex always was heat sensitive. But I think yogurt tastes fantastically with vindaloo, so I still loved the dish. Actually my kids did too, although Alex complained while she ate it with a lot of yogurt.
- 2 1/2 - 3 lbs beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1 t sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 t ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 4-5 T vegetable oil (my current favorite is avocado)
- 2 t brown or black mustard seeds
- 3 yellow onions, chopped
- 8-10 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 inch knob of fresh ginger, minced
- 1/2 t cayenne pepper, or more to heat tolerance
- 2 t paprika
- 1/2 t turmeric
- 2 t ground cumin
- 1 1/2 t cinnamon
- 1 pinch ground cloves
- 2 t garam masala, divided
- 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1-3 t brown sugar, optional
- plain Greek yogurt for serving-- it's a great equalizer if the dish ends up too spicy for some of your diners, optional
- Basmati rice for serving
Sprinkle 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper over the cubes beef. Massage it into the meat and then set it aside to rest for 10 minutes.
Heat the oil in either a large skillet or a cooktop-safe slow cooker insert over medium high heat. Place some of the beef cubes into the pot in a single layer--do not crowd the pan, you can brown the beef in batches. Brown the cubes, about 8 minutes, before removing to the bowl and adding the next round. When you are done, place the beef in the bowl and set it aside.
Add the mustard seeds to the pan. Ideally, they will pop before you add the onions, but if there is a lot of beef remnants stuck to the pan, do not let those burn. If you have time for the seeds to pop, cover the pan with a lid slightly ajar so the seeds do not pop out of the pan.
When the popping has slowed--or when you are concerned the pan may scorch, add the onions with a pinch of salt. Stir, scraping up the bottom of the pan as the liquid from the onions deglazes the pan. If you have anything seriously stuck to the pan, splash a little water into the pan.
Cook the onions for 15 minutes, until caramelizing. Keep a cup of water beside the cooktop to splash some in if the onions start to stick or scorch.
When the onions are brown, add the garlic and ginger. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
Add the remaining individual spices and one teaspoon only of the garam masala. Stir to roast the spices but do not let them burn, 1-2 minutes.
Add the vinegar to the pan and scrape up any stuck bits.
Either scrape everything, including the browned meat, into the slow cooker insert, or add the meat to cooktop safe slow cooker insert. Stir in the water.
Place on the slow cooker base. Cover and cook for 4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low.
Before serving, mix in the other teaspoon of garam masala. Taste for additional salt or even more garam masala. Taste for brown sugar (you are not looking for it to be sweet so much as smoothed out a bit).
Serve with Basmati rice and some Greek yogurt for dolloping in case it is too spicy for anyone.