This spicy lamb vindaloo recipe is a traditional curry from the Goan region of India. Made with a paste of spices, dried chilis, and vinegar, this restaurant-style lamb vindaloo is incredibly easy to make at home. This is a great recipe for anyone looking to recreate their Indian restaurant favorites at home.
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📖Why This Recipe Works
Trying to make an authentic vindaloo curry at home may sound intimidating. But what is great about this recipe is that it contains no hard-to-find spices or ingredients.
An easy lamb vindaloo recipe is a great Indian dish for home chefs. Loads of spicy chili flavor and not much work. This lamb vindaloo recipe can be meal prepped in advance, allowing 24 hours to marinate the meat and cooked the next day.
While it does take about 50 minutes to cook, most of that time is hands-off.
This recipe is naturally gluten and dairy free, this curry recipe will definitely be on your make it again list.
🍲What is a Vindaloo Curry?
Vindaloo is a spicy Goan curry dish made with vinegar and hot chili peppers. Vindaloo is known for its spicy flavor, it is one of the hottest of all Indian curries.
Traditionally made with pork, Vindaloo curries can be made with lamb or mutton, goat, chicken, or tofu.
Goan chefs originally adapted a garlic-preserved meat dish made by Portuguese sailors and put their own Indian twist on it.
There are two key elements to an authentic lamb vindaloo. The first is soaking the dried chilis in vinegar and the second is making the Vindaloo paste the meat will marinate in.
For this recipe, you will need just a few basic ingredients plus the homemade vindaloo paste. This vindaloo paste can be used for any vindaloo curry including chicken, beef, or goat/ mutton.
Lamb- You can use pre-cut stew meat or a boneless leg of lamb or lamb shoulder meat cut into 2-inch pieces. Essentially, you want to use an inexpensive cut of lamb.
Ghee- Clarified butter is traditional but you can also use a mix of unsalted butter and olive oil.
Onion- White onion and yellow onion both work equally well.
Potatoes- A classic lamb vindaloo curry will use potatoes. Either new potatoes or another small round potato.
Tomatoes- Some recipes call for tomato puree but canned crushed tomatoes will give the fiery curry sauce a bit more texture.
I do not recommend tomato paste as it makes the curry too sweet and you lose some of the acidic flavors.
Homemade Vindaloo Paste
- Dried chiles de árbol
- Distilled white vinegar
- Fresh ginger
- Garam masala- an essential Indian spice blend of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaves, clove, black pepper, fennel, and mace
- Ground mustard
- Kosher salt
- Coconut sugar or granulated sugar
- Ground clove
Don't let the number of ingredients in the paste foul you. It comes together in just minutes.
⏲️How to Make Lamb Vindaloo
The thing I love about making Indian curry recipes is that they never skimp on developing flavors. From toasting your own spices to long marinating times. Each step is worth the effort.
Step1 - Make the Vindaloo Paste
The first step of making a vindaloo curry is to make the paste which will be used to marinate the vegetables.
Start by soaking the dried red chilies in a mixture of hot water and vinegar for 20 to 30 minutes. Just enough to soften them up.
Once softened you will drain the chilis and add them to a small food processor or blender.
Add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, the fresh ingredients, which are the onion, garlic, and ginger, and the dried spices and salt. Puree this mixture until smooth.
Step 2- Marinate the Lamb
Split the paste into two parts, one part should be placed in an airtight container and stored in the fridge until it is time to make the curry.
Place the lamb pieces in a large mixing bowl. Rub the other half of the vindaloo curry paste into the lamb pieces.
Cover the marinated lamb and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 4 hours. The lamb can be marinated overnight, for up to 24 hours.
Step 3- Caramelize the Onions
Melt the ghee, or other oil, in a large pan over medium heat. First, we will caramelize the onions. Add the chopped onion to the pan stirring occasionally until they are nicely golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Add the remaining vindaloo paste and stir to coat the onions.
Step 4- Sear the Lamb
Then add the lamb, along with all the marinade, and cook until browned. Turning the pieces every couple of minutes.
Add the potatoes and stir to combine. Get all sides of the potatoes coated in the spice mixture.
Step 5- Simmer
Pour in the chicken stock and crushed tomatoes. Bring the curry to a simmer. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes uncovered. Stir occasionally but this part is mostly hands-off.
When ready the lamb should be extremely tender.
Serve over rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.
🥗What to Serve with Lamb Vindaloo
If you want to change it up try our unleavened flatbreads and sauteed greens or our 15-minute green beans with curry. Both make excellent pairings.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tips
- Use canned crushed tomatoes for this recipe. But if you prefer you can use fresh tomatoes chopped up.
- To reduce the spiciness of the dish you can use fewer chilis.
- Got it too hot? No worries! Add coconut milk to reduce the impact of the spice. While not traditional, some variations of Vindaloo curries do contain coconut milk in the recipe.
- Don't use a pressure cooker with this recipe, it will break down the potatoes too much.
- The potatoes can be omitted. There is a lot of debate about whether potatoes are authentic to the dish. Authentic or not, I love how they soak up all the flavors of the Vindaloo paste. The potatoes become spicy little flavor carriers.
- Want to make it low-carb? Omit the potatoes and serve over cauliflower rice.
- You can substitute virtually any meat for lamb meat. Pork, beef, chicken thighs, prawns, or root vegetables like in our vegetarian Thai green curry.
Leftover lamb vindaloo can be stored tightly covered in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. You can also freeze it for up to 2 months.
Leftovers can be reheated in the microwave. But my preference is to reheat in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add a little water to the sauce if needed.
More Flavorful Dinner Recipes
💬Frequently Asked Questions
Traditionally lamb vindaloo is one of the spiciest styles of Indian curries. This recipe is meant to be spicy but you can reduce the dried chilis if you like.
Vindaloo curries are full of bright acidic flavors and intense heat. The spices are rich and the acid notes come from vinegar-soaked chilis and tomatoes. It is the exact opposite of the cream and yogurt-based Indian curries popular in the US.
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- 4 dried chiles de árbol stems removed
- ¼ cup distilled white vinegar + 2 tablespoons vinegar
- ½ onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 ½ inch fresh ginger peeled
- 2 teaspoon cumin ground
- 2 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground clove
- Soak the dried chiles in ¼ cup hot water mixed with ¼ cup of vinegar until soft, about 20 minutes.4 dried chiles de árbol, ¼ cup distilled white vinegar
- Drain the chilis. Add to a blender or small food processor along with the additional vinegar and the remaining paste ingredients. Puree until smooth.½ onion, 3 garlic cloves, 1 ½ inch fresh ginger, 2 teaspoon cumin, 2 teaspoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon ground mustard, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon ground clove, 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
- Rub half the vindaloo curry paste into the lamb pieces, cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. Up to 24 hours. Cover the remaining paste and store it in the fridge.1 ½ pounds boneless lamb shoulder
- Melt the ghee in a large pan. Add onions, and cook, stirring, until caramelized, about 20 minutes. Add the remaining vindaloo paste and stir to coat.2 tablespoon ghee, 1 large onion
- Add the lamb, along with all the marinade, and cook until browned. Add the potatoes and stir to combine.¾ pound new potatoes
- Add the stock and tomatoes to the pan. Bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the lamb is tender.2 cups chicken stock, 1 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
- Serve over rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.fresh cilantro
- Leftover vindaloo can be stored, covered, in the fridge for 3 to 5 days.