When I first came to the UK, I was here on a student work visa. I worked in a pub near Croydon and was taken out for my first real British Indian restaurant curry after my first shift. I was told to order the lamb vindaloo and I loved it!
Growing up in California where Mexican food is very popular, I loved spicy food but I was not expecting the extreme heat that was introduced to me that evening. The flavours were new and exciting – like nothing I’d eaten before.
That was 25 years ago but I still remember it like it was yesterday. It was the beginning of my love affair with British Indian restaurant (BIR) cuisine.
Nowadays I make all the classic BIR meals at home so I am happy to be able to show you the king of them all: the lamb vindaloo.
But first, a bit of vindaloo trivia. Many restaurants include potatoes in their vindaloo curries. ‘Aloo’ means potato in Hindi so a lot of the original self-taught Indian chefs mistakenly added potatoes to this fiery curry and it stuck.
Vindaloo, however owes its origins in Portuguese controlled Goa in the fifteenth century where the dish was usually served with pork meat. The name vindaloo was most likely a mispronounceation of the similar Portuguese dish carne de vinho e albos or meat with wine and garlic.
British Indian restaurant lamb vindaloo is not very similar to the authentic Goan version other than it is quite spicy. If you would like to read my authentic vindaloo recipe, please click here.
This recipe is the result of trial and error and of course watching many great curry house chefs do their work. I’ve used both green chillies and also super hot scotch bonnet chillies. 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. That tends to do the job.
By the way, I don’t add potatoes to my vindaloo curries but if you would like to, I recommend cooking them in the sauce until very tender. You might also like to make them ahead of time as many curry house chefs do. Here is a good recipe for doing this.
I have written a large and small version of my curry sauce recipe which will need to me made before cooking this recipe. The large version is made just like they do in the best curry houses. Make a large batch for best results. It keeps in the fridge for three days and freezes well. The small batch version works well too though it’s not as authentic.
There cook my lamb for this recipe in two different ways. The most common way that it is cooked in restaurants is for the meat to be slowly stewed with spices. 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 if you’d like to make tandoori lamb vindaloo.
- 800g pre-cooked lamb meat - See links to my cooking methods above.
- 2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons garlic and ginger paste
- 3 fresh green chillies finely chopped
- 2 scotch bonnet chillies - finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons red hot chilli powder (be careful - less might be better)
- 4 cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 green cardamom pods - smashed
- 2 potatoes - pre-boiled (optional)
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 500ml (2 cups) heated curry sauce - See links to my recipes above.
- salt and pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons chopped coriander
- Heat the ghee/vegetable oil over medium heat.
- Allow to sizzle for about a minute and then add the spicesc. The curry will darken as the turmeric fries away.
- Now scoop in the garlic and ginger along with the chopped chillies.
- Throw in the potatoes (if using) and the heated curry sauce. Stir to combine while adding the pre-cooked lamb pieces.
- Stir in the yogurt one tablespoon at a time followed by the vinegar and tomato paste.
- Check for seasoning and then sprinkle with the chopped coriander and season to taste with salt and pepper.
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