Tamarind Chicken and Chickpea Flour Curry

From Geoff Last

2016 Mar/Apr

(adapted from Vij’s cookbook)

Vij’s Vancouver restaurant is one of my favourite places in the world to dine. I served this on New Year’s to rave reviews. The leftovers were even better two days later.



  • 2/3 c. tamarind paste, available at East Indian spice stores
  • 1/2 c. canola oil or grapeseed oil
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 T. each Mexican chile powder and paprika
  • 1 t .cayenne
  • 1-1/2 T. salt
  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (poke all over with a knife)

Curry Sauce:

  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 28-oz. can of tomatoes with juices or 4 large fresh tomatoes, skins removed, finely chopped
  • 1 large jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 T. ground cumin
  • 2 T. ground coriander
  • 1 t. each cayenne and turmeric
  • 1-١/٢-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 T. salt
  • 5 T. chick pea flour
  • 1-1/2 c. water

1 can coconut milk


Combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl. If you can’t find tamarind paste you can use tamarind chutney, which most supermarkets carry. Add the chicken breasts and cover well with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours and up to 8 hours. Remove from fridge about 20 minutes before you’re ready to grill.

To make the curry, heat the oil on medium heat 1 minute. Add the onion and sauté until golden brown. Stir in the tomatoes, jalapeño, cumin, coriander, cayenne, turmeric, cinnamon stick and salt. Cook 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low.

In a separate bowl, whisk the chick pea flour with 1 c. of water until thoroughly combined. Add this mixture and the remaining water to the curry. Stir well and increase heat to medium. When the curry boils, reduce heat to low and add the coconut milk.

Stir the curry regularly and simmer for 20-30 minutes. The curry will thicken as it cooks; cook it to the consistency of a cream sauce.

Preheat your outdoor grill or a grilling pan on the stove to high heat. Grill each chicken breast 4-5 minutes each side. Test for doneness and cook another minute per side if necessary. Transfer the curry sauce to a serving dish, add the grilled chicken and serve. Rice is nice, too.
Serves 6.

Pair this dish with:

Wine: The biggest challenge with many Indian dishes is the heat, but most of Vij’s dishes are fairly wine friendly. My go-to wine with curry is almost always dry riesling, but as this is always my standard recommendation I thought I should offer an alternative. Vikram (Vij) recommends a dolcetto with this dish, which is an unusual choice but it’s obviously well-tested, so here’s a tasty option.

Luigi Einaudi Dogliani Dolcetto 2013, $26

Einaudi is a first-rate producer from Italy’s Piedmont region, best-known for sumptuous Barolos, but this wine is a house specialty, a rich, exotic style of dolcetto displaying notes of game and licorice in a core of black plum and cherry fruit. Its lively acidity helps make it a versatile food mate and a nice alternative to the usual white wine pairings that would typically be recommended for this dish.