Thrill your friends and family with an easy-to-cook, deliciously rich and tangy curry at home. While not authentic, this Goan-inspired lamb vindaloo can also be made with beef or goat meat. It is super easy to make and just needs a few warming spices and flavorings. Use just enough ground chili to give a lovely hum of heat or more as it pleases you.
About Lamb Vindaloo
Thanks to the fifteenth-century arrival of the Portuguese in Goa, vindaloo, tomatoes, chilies, and other foods were introduced to Indian kitchens. The word vindaloo comes from the Portuguese dish called carne de vinha d'alhos, meaning meat in a garlic marinade. Indians then made the dish their own by adding spices and their beloved chilies.
Especially in the U.K., vindaloo is a fiery curry, one of the hottest on the British menu. However, in Goa, it has moderate heat. This recipe is written for a medium-low spice level for spice wimps like me, but you can add more ground chili to your taste.
While not strictly authentic, adding potatoes to a vindaloo is not an unusual move. They soak up the delectable sauce and are a welcome bonus.
Regardless of the amount of chili you settle on, this curry has a rich and vibrant sauce with a beautiful balance of spices, vinegar, heat, and a bit of sweetness. You will want to make this lamb vindaloo!
Why You Will Love this Recipe
- Easiest and best made in stages, and even more delicious
- No toasting or grinding of spices needed
- Please your heat-shy loved ones or add more chili to your taste
- A perfect make-ahead entertaining centerpiece
Don't be afraid of the amount of Kashmiri chili called for because this is a mild chili powder used mostly for its fruitiness and color.
Start with two pounds of boneless lamb—or beef and goat—cubed into one to two inches pieces.
Vindaloo Spices for the Marinade
Ground spices: Kashmiri chili powder, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, and black pepper.
Wet ingredients: Ginger and garlic purée, and cider vinegar.
Vindaloo Sauce Ingredients
The foundation for the sauce is oil, onion, salt, garam masala, and lemon juice. Optional additions are fenugreek and curry leaves. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
How to Make
Lamb vindaloo is good the day it is cooked, but so much better after an overnight rest in the refrigerator. The ideal way to prepare and eat this curry is to marinate the meat overnight, allowing the spices to penetrate the meat.
On Day Two, cook and store the stew in the refrigerator so that all the flavors mingle and mellow. And on Day Three, serve it, making lamb vindaloo the perfect party dish.
Make the Marinade Paste
In a bowl large enough to hold the lamb, mix all the marinade ingredients. Stir in the lamb and thoroughly coat with the vindaloo paste. Allow to marinate for at least four hours, or overnight.
Make the Sauce
In a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the oil. Add the chopped onions and salt and sauté until the onions begin to brown.
Stir in the marinated lamb and sauté for 5 minutes over high heat. Add the water and the curry leaves and potatoes, if using.
Cook on the stovetop or in the oven for one to two hours, depending on the size cubes of meat that you use. Stir in the lemon juice and garam masala and adjust the seasonings.
Serving and Storing Vindaloo
I love this rich curry served over plain basmati rice. A naan or your favorite flatbread along with a simple fresh salad also would be welcome.
Vindaloo keeps well stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for three to four days. Freeze it carefully wrapped for up to 3 months.
After being chilled in the refrigerator, reheat the vindaloo over medium-low heat in a heavy-bottomed pan, stirring frequently. Add hot water while reheating if needed to loosen up the sauce. A microwave is also a good option.
If you are defrosting the curry, it is best to defrost overnight in the refrigerator. But in a pinch, use the reheating instructions above.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Since this recipe calls for ground spices, it is especially important to use fresh ones
- Plan to make this dish several days before serving
- Cut the meat into the size chunks you prefer, but adjust the cook-time as needed
- If you are using a bone-in cut of meat, add 20% to the overall weight
- Adjust the gravy to your taste—"dry" or saucy
- Is your vindaloo too hot? Adding some coconut milk does a good job of lowering the heat.
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Please rate by clicking stars ⭐️ on the recipe card and/or let me know in the comments below. Thank you! ~Alonna
More Popular Indian-Inspired Meat Dishes
Recipe Card 📖
Easy Lamb Vindaloo at Home
- 2.2 pounds boneless lamb ~ See Notes below
- 1 tablespoon Kashmiri ground red chili ~ See Notes below
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander ~ Make sure this spice is fresh
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika ~ Or more regular paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon sea or table salt ~ Or 2 tsps Diamond Crystal Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste ~ Or 2 teaspoon each ginger and garlic purée
- 1/4 cup cider vinegar ~ Or rice, malt or coconut vinegars
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
- 2 cups onion ~ Finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon sea or table salt ~ Or 1/2 tsps Diamond Crystal Kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) ~ Optional
- 1 sprig curry leaves ~ Optional
- 3 medium potatoes ~ Optional. Peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon garam masala ~ Buy or make
- 3 to 4 teaspoons lemon juice ~ To taste
- 2 tablespoons cilantro ~ Chopped, if not using curry leaves
- 1 tablespoon cilantro ~ For garnish
Make the Vindaloo Paste
- Please see Notes on some meat ideas. Cut the lamb into 1 to 2-inch cubes depending on your preference. The larger pieces will take longer to cook, however. Or, buy lamb stew meat if you prefer.
- In a bowl large enough to hold the lamb, mix all the marinade ingredients. Stir in the lamb and thoroughly coat with the vindaloo paste. Allow to marinate for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
Make the Sauce
- In a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat, add the oil. When the oil is hot add the chopped onions and salt. Sauté until the onions begin to brown; about 8 to 10 minutes.
- Stir in kasoori methi, if using, and the marinated lamb. Sauté for 4-5 minutes stirring occasionally. Add a splash of water if the marinade begins to stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Add the water and curry leaves, if using, and stir to combine. At the beginning, the water should just barely cover the meat. Turn the heat up briefly until the curry begins to bubble. Note: You can adjust the consistency of the gravy at the end.
- If adding potatoes. stir them into the curry at the 1-hour mark, regardless of the cooking method you choose. Remove the stew when the meat is tender because it can dry out if cooked for too long.
Cook on the Stovetop
- Cover the saucepan and turn the heat down to low to medium-low, or the temperature at which the curry cooks at a low simmer. Cook for one to two hours, depending on your stove and the size of the cubes of meat you use. Stir occasionally until the meat is tender adding more water if the stew gets too dry.
Cook in the Oven
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and slow cook the vindaloo covered for one to two hours, or until the lamb is fall-apart tender and the sauce has thickened.
Finishing the Vindaloo
- Stir in the lemon juice and garam masala. Check for salt, sugar, acid level, and chili heat. If you want to thicken the sauce, simmer uncovered or until it reaches the desired consistency. If the gravy is too thick, add some water. Garnish with a flurry of cilantro.
- Meat choices: Besides lamb, goat, or beef also works well.
- Lamb cuts: You can choose to buy prepared lamb stew meat already cut up, or buy a boneless lamb shoulder or leg and cut it into your preferred cube size. If you buy a large cut of meat, you will need to factor in the waste from trimming excess fat. And if you are using a bone-in leg or shoulder, you will need 20% more weight to account for the bones. Your butcher may also be able to cut up the meat for you. The size you choose is up to you. I prefer bigger chunks of meat in the 2-inch size, though it takes longer to cook.
- Chili heat: Kashmiri chili powder is on the mild side, used mostly for its bright red color and mild fruity flavor. If you are using cayenne pepper, you will want to start with much less. You can always add more in the end. The level of chili in this recipe gives a low hum of heat but add more chili powder as you wish.
- Is your vindaloo too hot? Adding some coconut milk does a good job of reducing the heat.