Vindaloo is typically a Goan dish of meat, usually pork prepared with wine and garlic. These ingredients make up the term "vindaloo," which is a name derived from the Portuguese dish, Carne de Vinha d'Alhos (where carne means meat, vinha means wine, and alhos means garlic).
However, this dish was later modified in Mumbai by the substitution of vinegar for the wine and the addition of red Kashmiri chiles. Vindaloo is meant to be a spicy (if not the spiciest) dish that has a tang that vinegar imparts. By the way, did you know that vindaloo is often mistaken to be a dish that has potatoes in it because aloo means potatoes in Hindi?
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*Note: I used a blend of Kashmiri and Mangalorean short red chiles, but you may add any variety of dried red chiles here.
**Note: Add the onion if you prefer some extra gravy to go with rice, but it's totally optional.
Using a mortar and pestle, grind all of the ingredients together to a fine paste. Drain and reserve any liquid.
Heat the oil in a wok or sauté pan over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add the sliced onion and the chopped cilantro, and fry until the onions turn golden, about 3-4 minutes. Add the ground paste and reduce the heat to low. Fry until fragrant, season with salt, to taste, and thin with the reserved masala water until the desired consistency is achieved. Season with additional vinegar, to taste.
Increase the heat to medium-high, bring the gravy to a boil, and add the fish pieces. Cook until the gravy bubbles over, reduce the heat to medium, and cook 30 more seconds or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice.