When people think of lamb vindaloo curry, it’s recipes like this restaurant style vindaloo that come to mind. Make it… you’ll love it!
I had a few friends from my hometown in California visit me in the UK recently and they couldn’t wait to dig into a real lamb vindaloo curry. So I decided to make them this!
They had tried authentic Goan vindaloo curry a few times at restaurants in the US but were finding it hard to find anything like the vindaloos we get here in the UK.
This is a recipe from my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy Bible’. In the cookbook the recipe is family size to serve 4 or more as part of a multi-course meal.
Here I show how to make the lamb vindaloo curry as a curry house portion to serve 1 – 2 people. It’s not rocket science. I just halved the recipe.
So what exactly is vindaloo curry?
Before moving on the this lamb vindaloo curry recipe, here’s a bit of vindaloo trivia for you.
Authentic vindaloo curry owes its origins to Portuguese controlled Goa in the fifteenth century where the dish was served with pork meat.
The name vindaloo was most likely a mispronunciation of the similar Portuguese dish carne de vinho e albos or meat with wine and garlic.
So the Goan cooks called this new and much loved vinho e albos ‘vindaloo’ and the name stuck. Notice the ‘aloo’ at the end of ‘vindaloo’.
This caused one of many changes in the recipe when it was served hundreds of years later at British curry houses. (see below)
One thing the Goans changed when making vinho e albos or vindaloo was that they add a lot of chillies. They loved chillies which had only recently made their way to the Indian subcontinent from the new world.
So what’s the difference between British Indian restaurant (BIR) vindaloo curry and the more authentic versions?
Many UK Indian restaurant chefs add potatoes to their vindaloo curries. ‘Aloo’ means ‘potato’ in Hindi and Urdu so a lot of the original self-taught Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrant chefs mistakenly added potatoes to this fiery curry and it stuck.
British Indian restaurant vindaloo is not very similar to the authentic Goan version other than in name and that it is quite spicy. If you would like to read my authentic pork vindaloo recipe, please click here.
As most curry houses are muslim run, the use of pork was a big no no. When dining out you are much more likely to order vindaloo with a range of main ingredients from chicken to lamb to paneer.
How did this curry house vindaloo recipe come about?
This recipe is the result of trial and error and of course watching many great curry house chefs do their work. I have been lucky to have been invited into hundreds of curry house kitchens to see the chefs work their magic.
I use both green chillies and also super hot scotch bonnet chillies just like many of the chefs I learned from do.
It is spicy but not over the top so. You can still taste and enjoy all the flavours. If you want yours even hotter, just add more chillies or chilli powder. That tends to do the job.
By the way, if you are adding potatoes to this lamb vindaloo curry, I recommend cooking them in the curry base sauce until very tender. Then just scoop them out and add them to your vindaloo curry.
You could just boil them in water too.
You might also like to cook your potatoes ahead of time as many curry house chefs do. Here is a good recipe for doing this.
All of the authentic Indian restaurant style recipes on my blog call for a base curry sauce. The base sauce is one of the uniquely British ingredients that makes the BIR vindaloo curry what it is today.
I have used pre-cooked lamb for this recipe. Pre-cooking the meat not only makes cooking faster but also adds another delicious layer of flavour. Here is my recipe for this method.
You may also like to try a more tandoori style lamb. Here’s my tandoori lamb tikka recipe which tastes amazing in a vindaloo.
Do I have to pre-cook the meat?
That is how you will get curry house style results. I am asked often if you have to pre-cook the meat. It does add another layer of flavour so it is worth doing.
That said, you could add the meat raw and just cook it longer. A lot longer! Lamb takes at least 40 minutes to cook to tender.
You will of course need to add more liquid during the cooking process too.
I prefer to do it the curry house way and have lots of pre-cooked meat on hand. It’s faster. It tastes better. It freezes well. Do that and you can whip up this curry house style lamb vindaloo in minutes.
You can add the main ingredient of your choice. This doesn’t have to be a lamb vindaloo curry!
Just like when you go out for a curry and see vindaloo on the menu with your choice of main ingredients like lamb, chicken, king prawns etc. you can do that when you cook this recipe too.
Following are a few step by step photos of the lamb vindaloo cooking process.
International & UK Orders
Here are some more curry house favourites you might like to try!
- 2 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
- 3 green cardamom pods - bruised
- 1 star anise
- 1 Indian bay leaf
- 1 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
- 2 green bird's eye chillies - finely chopped
- 1 scotch bonnet chilli - finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
- 1 tbsp mixed powder
- 70ml (1/4 cup) tomato puree
- 300ml (1 1/4 cups) base sauce
- 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
- 1 pre-cooked potato - peeled
- 1 tbsp coriander (cilantro) - finely chopped
- Salt to taste
- Heat the oil over medium-high heat and then throw in the cardamom pods, star anise and bay leaf. Allow these ingredients to infuse into the oil for about 30 seconds and then add the garlic ginger paste.
- Stir the garlic ginger paste into the spice infused oil and then add all the chopped chillies. Fry these for about 30 seconds and then add the ground spices and fry for a further 30 seconds.
- Your pan might be looking a bit dry at this point. Add the tomato puree and a couple of ladles of the base sauce and bring to a simmer. Only stir if it looks like the sauce is sticking to the pan.
- Stir in the pre-cooked lamb and stir to coat with the sauce. Simmer for about 3 minutes adding more base if it is looking dry.
- Add the vinegar and then the fenugreek leaves by rubbing them between your fingers. Add the pre-cooked potato and heat them through in the sauce. Then garnish with coriander (cilantro).
- Season with salt to taste.