Please Pass the Recipe

from one generation to the next

Sweet Vegetable Vindaloo


My all time favourite travel destination is India. After three visits my enthusiasm for the sub continent has grown rather than waned. I am entranced by the history, the people, the colour, the food, the ingenuity of the poor, the creative non compliant road traffic, the overt all embracing religious practice, the optimistic spirit of life. All in all, mother India has me under her spell.

The smell of Indian food instantly transports me there so I cook with Indian spice combinations frequently. I generally make an attempt to create recipes that are genuine, using recipes from reliable Indian sources. Just sometimes I break out!

An Ottolenghi recipe from “Plenty” caught my eye today. Two Potato Vindaloo was the inspiration for my potato curry, which I served beside tandoori chicken, 3:2:1 rice, and kachumber topped with a good dollop of tart yoghurt.

Following the first part of the recipe I used the recommended spices, but there are so many in this dish that the individual fragrant distinction of each was lost. The remainder of the recipe ingredients and method was give and take. I omitted some elements and changed others.

Fragrant savoury potato curry can be delicious, but this version was a overly sweet for my liking. My chief taster however went back for thirds! The combination of sweet peppers, sweet potato, sweet tomatoes contrasted by the inclusion of tamarind paste (instead of the recommended vinegar) produced a flavour which was at odds with the spice, and sadly for me, a flavour bereft of India!

This is my adaptation of Ottalenghi’s Two Potato Vindaloo from his book “Plenty”.

Spice mix
8 cardamom pods
1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
25 curry leaves
2 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 red chilli, finely chopped
3 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
50 mls tamarind paste
400 mls water
400g unpeeled waxy potatoes cut into 2cm dice
1 sweet red peppers cut into 2cm dice
400g peeled sweet potato cut into 2cm dice
1/2 cup roughly chopped coriander leaves

Firstly make the spice powder. Heat a small skillet, then brown the cumin and coriander seeds until they darken and smell fragrant. Remove the pan from the heat.
Add the cloves then grind them to a powder. Combine this spice powder with the turmeric, paprika and cinnamon. Set aside.
Finely chop the garlic, ginger and chilli together.
Heat the oil, then add the mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds. Sizzle until they begin to pop. Add the tomatoes, peppers, water, curry leaves, tamarind, garlic, ginger and chilli.
Stir to combine then add the white potatoes and salt. Stir to coat the potatoes in sauce then cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the sweet potatoes, cover and simmer for another 20 minutes.
Remove the lid and continue cooking until the sauce is thick, roughly another 10 minutes.
Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Spoon into a serving bowl and scatter the chopped coriander on top.


About ladyredspecs

I wear two blogger hats, food and photos. My inner Melbourne kitchen, the heart of my home, is concurrently art/craft studio, workplace and sweatshop. I am a slave to my cooking passion and to my cameras. My love of good food holds me in a lifetime of bondage, as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I feel privileged that my sixty years of experiences have mirrored both the cultural homogenization of Australian food and the digital progression of photography. While my love of food is acquired and my creations transient, the artistic genes I inherited and my photographic record permanent. These two loves are a natural yin and yang. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating, respect for ingredients, an abhorrence of artificial additives and a good palate, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

19 comments on “Sweet Vegetable Vindaloo

  1. ohlidia
    February 21, 2014

    Beautiful! I have three of his cookbooks and I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

  2. Fae's Twist & Tango
    February 13, 2014

    – I made a couple of Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes (one was his cauliflower cake) exactly as directed and I stopped there. However, any of your recipes I made, were a top class hit and very satisfying. So when are we going to refer to your cookbook?
    – It was over a year ago the we made our trip plan to India, and you left me an intriguing comment about your travels to India. Well, days are approaching. On the 1st of April we will be in Delhi for three days and then we board a cruise from Singapore which will stop two days in Mumbai. It is not quite the trip you have taken, but it should give us a little flavor of India on site. I am very excited.
    – I have never made vindaloo, but I will go for your recipe!

    • ladyredspecs
      February 13, 2014

      Namaste Fae. India can be confronting for all your senses and sensibilities, especially in the big cities. With an open heart and mind, you will be enchanted! Have a wonderful journey, Singapore is an exciting town place too and the food fabulous! You and I could have an in depth discussion about modern food developments. I think we’d agree that tradition wins over innovation every time.

      • Fae's Twist & Tango
        February 13, 2014

        I’ll be looking forward to our in-depth discussion someday, and the pleasure will be all mine. I do agree with the ‘tradition’, especially the ones that are evidence of all thoughts incorporated into a product of wisdom.

  3. laurasmess
    January 31, 2014

    I love anything by Ottolenghi. He’s my favourite chef of the moment, particularly due to his amazing use of vegetables and spices. This vindaloo looks delicious! I haven’t been to India but the country fascinates me. It’s on my travel list… one day I’ll get there! But for now, I might just eat this curry and imagine the sounds of the Indian market.. :)

    • ladyredspecs
      January 31, 2014

      I have never heard a spruiker at an Indian market. But there are always tuk tuk horns and a multitude of male voices. The women speak very quietly! Enjoy!

  4. marymtf
    January 29, 2014

    I have only just discovered Ottalenghi on the food channel. Doubt that I’ll make any of those dishes but I love to watch.

    • ladyredspecs
      January 29, 2014

      He’s easy on the eye and ear, so you’re winning!

  5. Eha
    January 29, 2014

    Three times my tickets have been booked over a three decade history! Every time it was not to be and I have to admit to being frustrated . . I too so much want to be immersed in the sub-Continent! Wonderful recipe which does make me think that my ‘Jerusalem’ just has to have ‘Plenty’ added in spite of my cookery book moratorium :) !

    • ladyredspecs
      January 29, 2014

      Western culture is invading India at a rapid rate, TV is having an enormous impact! don’t wait too long before you fulfil your dreams

      • Eha
        January 29, 2014

        I do know!! It will be different than I envisaged as a v young woman some three decades ago anyways!!!

      • ladyredspecs
        January 29, 2014

        But enchanting all the same!

  6. chef mimi
    January 29, 2014

    I wish you’d share where you’ve been in India. It’s been a dream of mine to go, what with the cuisine that is my favorite, and all of the colors… but I only hear bad things about traveling in India.

    • ladyredspecs
      January 29, 2014

      I think the best advice I can give you is to travel to India with a small trusted tour operator. They will protect you from overload and provide a quiet haven at the end of each day, but hopefully still immerse you in the cacophony of sights, sounds and smells that make India so entrancing. My first trip was to Rajasthan, I then I went to the south which was a cooking school on the move through spice country and thirdly I did tour of Gujurat, the most north western state visiting traditional textile workers. This is the link to Marieke’s website. Her tours are unsurpassable, I can’t recommend her highly enough, she’s also been a big influence of my life in food!

      • chef mimi
        January 29, 2014

        good advice, and thank you again. I’ve never heard of this tour group, so I really appreciate the info.

  7. saucygander
    January 28, 2014

    I’ve heard so much about India from friends that have travelled or lived there. My favorite story is a friend whose taxi nearly merged into an elephant. Indian food and their use of spices is fascinating. I have a lot to learn, but that is half the fun! :-D

    • ladyredspecs
      January 28, 2014

      India has an irrepressible spirit. She shifts your whole understanding of “normal”. Learning about the food is a good place to start.

  8. Glenda
    January 28, 2014

    Hi Sandra, I too am a fan of India and its people. When you travel there you come back with so many stories,it is hard to know where to start. One story I love to relay is about a sign I saw in a restaurant. It is to die for: “Management will not be responsible for damage done by rats”.

    • ladyredspecs
      January 28, 2014

      LOL, yes the convoluted and pedantic use of the English language is a constant source of amusement!

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