Shrimp Vindaloo

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

One doesn’t actually see shrimp vindaloo on Indian menus since the traditional dish is made with pork, and derivatives seem to be limited to chicken and lamb. But the treatment works amazingly well with shrimp, especially if the shrimp is brined first to give it the necessary contrasting crunch. The secret to this recipe is a mountain of garlic, a special spice mixture, and a combination of vinegar and sugar whose opposing tastes amplify all the other components. The chiles here, while not the chiles used in India, are all smoked and give the dish an extra note of complexity. Pasilla de Oaxaca chiles can be hard to find but their rich smokiness makes them worth the effort.

4 main course servings

Cooking Methodsauteeing


Total Timeunder 1 hour

Make Ahead RecipeYes

Kid FriendlyYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Five Ingredients or LessYes


Moodadventurous, festive

Taste and Texturegarlicky, hot & spicy, savory, smoky


  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons ghee, butter, or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated fine
  • 2 dried chipotle or Pasilla de Oaxaca chiles, soaked for 30 minutes in warm water and drained, or 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, sauce rinsed off, or 4 jalapeno chiles, stemmed, seeded, and chopped fine
  • ¼ cup sherry vinegar, excellent quality balsamic vinegar, or ½ cup inexpensive balsamic vinegar boiled down to ¼ cup, or more to taste
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced and crushed to a paste with the side of a chef’s knife
  • 2 large red onions, sliced very fine
  • 6 medium tomatoes, peeled, and chopped fine
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Salt
  • 20 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (deveining optional)
  • Steamed or boiled basmati rice (for serving)


  1. In a small sauté pan, heat the spices, except the pepper and ginger, in a tablespoon of ghee over low to medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the pepper, ginger, chiles, vinegar, and garlic.

  2. Cook the onion slices over medium heat in a sauté pan in the remaining ghee until translucent and then pale brown, about 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes. Simmer gently, stirring every couple of minutes to prevent sticking, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. Add the sugar, more vinegar if needed, and season to taste with salt. Just before serving, add the shrimp to the hot tomato mixture and simmer for 3 minutes. Serve with basmati rice.


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It says this dish works best if you brine the shrimp but doesn't say with what or for how long. I've brined different kinds of meats but never shrimp and I'm not sure what type of brine would work with the ingredients in this recipe. Anyone have any ideas on how to do this? Thanks.


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