What is a Tindaloo Curry?

Now and again we get an email about different types of curry dishes. And in the last couple of weeks we’ve had emails asking about a tindaloo.

Now none of us in the Curry Focus office has ever eaten a tindaloo, although we have eaten (hot) vindaloos and the occasional (very hot) phal.

We agree that vindaloo is the hottest one that we like and that anything hotter is risking having an exploding mouth, stomach or heart.

This is not just a glib comment – we regularly see curry-eating contests where people are challenged to eat a super-hot curry and the common feature of these competitions is that the person doing the eating has to sign a disclaimer saying that they are eating the curry at their own risk.

We asked around at our favourite local curry houses and did some searching on the Internet and the general result was that a tindaloo is a vindaloo with more chillies or chilli powder. So a tindaloo is hot – very hot.

So is a tindaloo hotter than a phal? Expert opinion from the curry houses is divided. Some say that a phal is the hottest whereas some say that a tindaloo is hottest.

But opinion is really not that important when you reach these really hot curry levels because tindaloos and phals are hot, hot, hot.

To our knowledge, hardly any curry houses have tindaloo on the menu so maybe a tindaloo is hotter than a phal (why bother having tindaloo on the menu if it is so hot that hardly anybody would ever order it?).

But then again, not many curry houses have phal on the menu.

I remember regularly eating phals years ago when I was younger.

But this was after consuming large amounts of beer so my tastebuds would have been unconscious even before I reached the curry house.

Things have changed since then and I now prefer tasting what I’m eating and a madras is more my style.

There is a chicken phal curry recipe on the Curry Focus website and a few vindaloo curry recipes.

But there is no tindaloo recipe on the Curry Focus website yet. If you have a tindaloo curry recipe then why not email the recipe to us so we can publish it for the world to see?

And let us know if you have any knowledge of a tindaloo and how it rates with vindaloo and phal.

7 Comments

  1. Hi, I have just read your article on Tindaloo Curries and i have them a lot and have done for several years now. I have spoken to several chef’s in the indians that i regularly visit and they all say the same that the order of strength goes Vindaloo, Tindaloo and Phal. they say the same as your artivle that they are not on the menu because they re usually too hot for most people and only make a very few when people ask for them each year.

  2. I’ve made a Tindaloo, and it cost me a few quid to get the ingredients. The result was almost inedible & I had to “let it down” with a pint of yoghurt and a tin of chopped tomatoes. Anything hotter than a Madras is purely bravado. A proper Vindaloo is not mentally hot, it’s a beautifully put together Indian dish. A good Madras is the maximum heat required so the spices can do their work.

  3. A phal or phall or phaal.. is the hottest, by definition, because I believe it was designed to be just that –hotter than everything else. It was created in the UK as was the tindaloo. But tindaloos and phals don’t have to be just hotter versions of vindaloos, they have (or should have) different ingredients. I live in California’s San Francisco Bay Area (Silicon Valley) and have tried just about all the Indian/Pakistani restaurants in the Peninsula part, and there are lots! But only one has a Phal on the menu. Now here is the funny part. When I ordered the chicken phal, the waiter asked me if I wanted it “mild, medium, or spicy”. That’s like ordering a glass of water and being asked if you want it wet or dry! But the owner was proud of his attempt to have Phal as a taste experience, not as a hotness experience. The idea was to permeate the chicken with a peppery heat rather than the flavor just coming from the curry sauce around the chicken. Ironically, they had no idea this was a British dish. But there are no tindaloos on the menus in California as far as I know. Now, talking of hot curries, there was a little Indian restaurant in Golden, Colorado I visited 5 years ago. Hottest curries I ever tasted, but miraculously you could still taste the curry. Usually, to make a curry hot, it gets loaded with peppers whose flavor drowns out all the other spices. But not in this case. Pity I can’t get them to meet the chef who makes the Phal in Silicon Valley.

  4. I am delighted to find this excellent site! When I started eating curry about 35 years ago, it was more of a novelty than today and I used to eat out a lot in Oxford, that city of solid curry. In those days, many restaurants on the Cowley road sold Tindaloo, which you could actually get in several varieties. They had Tindaloo, Tin-Tindaloo and in one place, Tin-Tin-Tindaloo. I remember seeing them on the menu. The highest heats were as hot or hotter than a Phal, a question which I remember asking back then. Both were available. The big difference was that Tindaloo recipes are made according to the Vindaloo method, which is hot and SOUR by the Goan recipe, whereas Phal is just hot only. Phal was derived from a side curry which Indians used to spice up their milder main dish by putting a little on the side of their plate. Phal was never intended to be eaten as a main dish in its own right! A real Phal is dull, dull dull, and is heat only.
    The guy in Cowley road said that on one occasion a man asked for the hottest on the menu and ended up in the John Radcliffe hospital! After having received a phonecall from the hospital in protest, the restaurant now ‘only make it to special order.’ He was referring to Phal.
    In summary, Tindaloo is better than Phal, it is more subtle and can come in different strengths. It is hotter than Vindaloo, CAN be as hot as a Phal, and is a curry which is hot and sour. I have had one and it is good on a Friday night when a Vindaloo just cant cut it.

  5. I first had a Meat Tindaloo way back in around 1975, and actually, it was my very first curry and it was definitely listed on the menu, somewhere in Clapham, at that time. I was only 16 at the time and my brother thought I was crazy to go for it, but I ate it and adored it!!! I have only found it or had it made, 4 maybe 5 times since in restaurants… I remember them being incredibly hot, hotter than any Phal I have had, but absolutely wonderful… and they include potatoes as they are an “aloo” … it is just a shame they are so hard to find… love hot curries inc Phal, but Tindaloo would be my number 1….

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