Duck Vindaloo

In an anglicized Indian Restaurant (mostly Bangladeshi), Vindaloo seems simply to be up near the top, if not at the top, of the heat scale. The name, however is a corruption of vinha d’alhos, meaning wine and garlic, and is more sweet and sour than outright hot. (The wine has become vinegar.) Though, let’s face it, we do want a curry kick, and there certainly should be some heat content. The trick is gauging just how much of a kick.

One man’s hot is another’s medium, so adjust as you see fit. The recipe specifies either Kashmiri chill powder or paprika, which seemed a bit odd but the great Madhur Jaffrey used paprika, too, so it must be OK. This is where you can adjust your heat content.


serves: 6
preparation time: 30 mins
cooking time: 2 hrs


  • 1-2 tbs Kashmiri chilli powder/paprika (or a mixture)
  • 8 green cardamom pods, seeds only
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 8 cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 cinnamon stick (~ 6cms)
  • 75ml cider vinegar
  • 6 duck legs, skinned & jointed
  • 3 tbs coconut oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 4 red onions, finely sliced
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 65g fresh ginger, cut into fine matchsticks
  • 4 medium tomatoes, cored & coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbs tamarind concentrate (optional – another sour component)
  • 3 whole green chillies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 tbs light soft brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt


Blitz the spice ingredients, down to and including the cinnamon stick, in an electric grinder. (Masochists can, of course, use a pestle and mortar should they wish.) Stir this spice mix into the vinegar to form a smooth paste and rub the paste into the duck pieces. Leave the duck to marinate at a cool room temperature for 3 hours.

Heat the coconut oil in a large pan (one that has a lid for later) and when hot, add the mustard seeds. Fry them until they begin to pop. Now add the onions and fry these gently until soft and beginning to brown a little. Sit in the garlic and ginger and cook for another few minutes. Now add the tomatoes, tamarind (if using), chillies, sugar and salt.

Increase the heat before adding the duck, marinade and 100ml water. Bring back to a simmer, cover and cook gently for 60 mins, sirring occasionally, topping up the water as necessary.

Crack the lid off the pan and cook for a further 30-45 mins until the duck legs are tender and the sauce has thickened nicely.

You can serve it immediately or, as with most curries, the flavour seems to improve and develop if left to cool, refrigerated for a day and reheated.

Get a pdf version of this recipe.

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