How do you celebrate father’s day with your dad when you’re in one country and he’s in another. A 24 hour fight between you. Well, I’ll tell you what I did. I cooked my dad his favourite meal. A spicy pungent Indian curry. And ate it in his honour. I think he would have liked my easy chicken vindaloo recipe. And I hope he likes the honesty and the good intentions that this post was written with, which is dedicated to him.
It must be hard being a dad and having your only child live so far away. Even harder when said child forgets English father’s day, in June, Australian father’s day being in September. There was a time when I didn’t send my dad father’s day cards at all, owing to a turbulent series of events during my teenage years. But as I grow older, I have come to see that people simply try to make the best of life. The best of their choices. Whatever may have come to pass, I am his daughter, he is my father and there is an unending bond between us.
If I think back to my childhood, it was a fun one. My dad would always be the one to encourage me to do adventurous things. Riding down rapids in a little blue and yellow inflatable boat at a river that we always used to visit. Jumping the big waves in the sea at Newquay until I had turned blue from the cold. Hanging from the beams in our house and when I could no longer hold on falling on to the bean bag that he had placed below. Sitting on his lap and steering the car up our steep driveway turning the wheel round the tree at the top my grandma protesting loudly in the back. Picking up large spiders trapped in the bath with my bare hands and returning them back outside. He instilled in me a sense of fearlessness, a spirit to just do things and make ideas happen. He made me believe that I could do anything that I set my mind to.
I’m sure that he is partly responsible for my passion for food too. You see my dad loves to eat. He’s one of those people for whom food is not just fuel for the body, it’s pleasure, it stimulates the senses, brings people together. The enjoyment of food for him is living life to its fullest. Thinking of him is thinking about Sunday roasts with every side and condiment available, a pub lunch of gammon and chips with pineapple AND a fried egg (you’re supposed to have one or the other), a full english breakfast, porridge, toast and a pot of tea, Chinese spare ribs, Greek lamb kleftiko, duck a l’orange and crepes Suzette flambéed at the table, asparagus and hollandaise sauce, bread and butter pudding with custard and ice cream, gooseberry fool. And of course, Indian curries.
Every Friday when I was wee, mum, dad and I and another family of three would go out for an Indian meal. Papadums, mango chutney, lime pickle, raita, samosas, bajees, naan bread, korma, malaya, tikka, jalfrezi, pilau, saag, gobi and of course vindaloo, are all words I could say probably before I could read. The restaurant that we went to was called Ali’s, run by Marge and Ali. When they returned to India to visit family, they used to bring back gifts for us. That’s how much we ate there.
So whatever has passed between us, I know that my dad still instinctively understands me like no other. He gave me some of the most important beliefs and values that I have. To chase after your dreams and not to stop until you achieve them, to dive head first into challenges without fear, to always entertain a sense of adventure and take the path less traveled. A dad who can do this, who can give you these qualities, has done a remarkable job. The hurt that was caused is in the past and the future is full of possibility. I think that food has a way of transcending words, so despite the fact that he can’t taste my easy chicken vindaloo recipe, hopefully the symbolic gesture of making it for him will convey my sentiments. Happy father’s day dad. I love you x
Easy chicken vindaloo recipe
Adapted from a recipe my Madhur Jafrey
- 2 onions
- 10 cloves garlic
- 2 inch piece ginger
- 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 11/2 tsp garam masala
- 1/4 – 1tsp cayenne pepper **add as little or as much as you like to suit your chilli palate
- 1 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 1 tbsp coriander
- 2 tbsp ghee, butter or oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 120ml apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbs brown sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 large chicken, jointed or 4 small chicken breasts, diced
In a food processor, blitz the onion, garlic and ginger and then add the turmeric, garam masala, **cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin and coriander and mix again until everything is well combined.
In a couple of tablespoons of ghee (I love Pepe Saya‘s), fry the mustard and fennel seeds until that start to pop and then add the curry paste that you have just made.
Fry for a couple of minutes before adding about three tablespoons of water and putting a lid on the pot and leaving the curry paste to slowly simmer for about 20 minutes to cook out the spices. Stir from time to time.
After the 20 minutes is up, add the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and salt, stir to combine, then submerge the chicken pieces in the sauce and cook for about 30-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked.
At this point, to get the most flavour from this easy chicken vindaloo recipe, once the curry has cooled, store it in the fridge overnight and then gently reheat the next day. Serve with rice and any veggies that you fancy, but broccoli or cauliflower would work well.