Lamb Vindaloo is a fall-apart tender spicy South-Indian lamb curry with coconut milk and a splash of vinegar. This is an easy, foolproof recipe.

Lamb Vindaloo on a plate with rice and cilantro.
  • It is so well balanced and totally delicious. Lamb Vindaloo is a fragrant, flavor-packed south-Indian curry made with a little bit of heat, tempered by creamy, nutty coconut milk. 
  • It only needs 3 spices, which you will surely already have on hand. It is different from other curries because a touch of mustard and a splash of vinegar adds a little brightness that cuts through a rich curry. 
  • This is a relatively simple curry to make if you’re starting out with Indian cuisine. 
  • This yields a big batch – enough for having friends over, to have leftovers, or to freeze some for another night. Or feel free to cut the recipe in half. 
  • I used boneless lamb roast, but bone-in lamb adds even more flavor if you have a specialty butcher who prepares stewing lamb meat with bones. That’s the way my mother-in-law makes it in India. Tasting that melt-in-the-mouth lamb is one of my favorite eating moments so I hope you’ll enjoy your moment just as much.

What is Lamb Vindaloo Made of?

Here’s what you’ll need to make this delicious lamb vindaloo curry:

  • Oil. You can use sunflower oil, canola, or any neutral-tasting oil for this curry. Ghee will also work well in this recipe.
  • Onion. I choose regular white onions for my curries as opposed to red ones.
  • Kosher salt. Seasoning the onions from the start layers in flavor, early on.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic cloves are ideal for this curry, although you can also use bottled.
  • Cayenne. This is the spice that brings the heat. The amount can be lowered if you’re making this for anyone who doesn’t enjoy the burn of cayenne pepper.
  • Cumin. Make sure it’s lovely and fresh (not from a bottle that’s been sitting for years in your cupboard) as, this is one of the key flavors in this recipe. 
  • Turmeric. This golden spice is what gives the curry its pretty glow and earthiness.
  • Vinegar. I use white wine vinegar to balance the dish out.
  • Grainy mustard. Works together with the vinegar to add balance and a little acidity.
  • Boneless lamb. I used boneless lamb roast, but bone-in lamb is even more flavorful if you are happy to use meat with the bone-in.  Bone-in lamb chops are a delicious option but pricier than other cuts. If you use a specialty butcher, ask what they can do. 
  • Coconut milk. Choose a thick, creamy brand that is high quality. 
  • Cilantro. The perfect herb for this dish. Fresh cilantro is known as dhania in India and is perfect with this dish.

How To Make Lamb Vindaloo 

Once you’ve made this dish and tasted it, you’re likely to want to cook it weekly. 

It’s a relatively simple process of browning your onions and spices first off. After that, you just need to let them simmer in their sauce with your lamb, and you’re ready to go.

Steps 1-4 of making lamb vindaloo.

Here’s how to make a mouth-watering lamb vindaloo recipe: 

  1. Brown the onions and 1 tsp salt in the oil which you have heated in a large Dutch oven on your stovetop. Cook them until they have softened and are golden. This should take around 20 minutes. Be careful not to overdo the onions. They will make the whole sauce taste bitter if they are burnt.
  2. Add the garlic, cayenne, cumin, and turmeric, and cook everything for 1-2 minutes or until the garlic has softened. You want to cook those spices until they are wonderfully fragrant.
  3. Add the vinegar and mustard and cook for a minute longer, stirring all the while. 
  4. Add in the lamb and the coconut milk. Simmer the contents for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the lamb is soft and tender, on medium heat. This can also be done in a pressure cooker for 30 minutes.
  5. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.
Steps 4-8 of making lamb vindaloo.

What To Serve With Lamb Vindaloo

Well, the list is endless, but here are a few favorites:

  • Basmati rice 
  • Wholegrain pilaf 
  • Naan bread 
  • Pulkha roti (a.k.a. chapati, roti, or whole wheat flatbreads)
  • Roasted potatoes 
  • Sambals and carrot salad
  • Chicken samosas as an appetizer option
  • A side of masoor dal
  • A salad of chopped tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and green chilis
Close-up shot of lamb vindaloo on a plate with rice and some fresh cilantro.

Make Ahead Instructions 

This entire recipe can be made a day or two in advance and heated up slowly when you’re ready to serve it. One of the beauties of curry is that the flavors develop over time. 

You can cook this in an Instant Pot or slow cooker if you prefer.

If you are looking for only a few elements to prepare in advance, you can:

  • Measure out the spices and set them aside in a little bowl.
  • Get the onions cut up and ready to go. 

Storage Instructions 

Allow the curry to cool completely before packaging it in an air-tight container. 

Store the lamb in its vindaloo sauce for 3-4 days in the fridge. 

I like to heat mine slowly in a pan until it has warmed through. Have a cup of water at hand in case you need to add a little splash to thin the sauce back.

Lamb Vindaloo Variations 

  • You can swap the lamb out for other meat options like mutton, chicken, beef or pork.
  • Try a seafood version with shrimp, just remember to adjust the cooking time.
  • Play around with your spice blend and try adding in a little cardamon, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, mustard seeds, or cumin seeds to your vindaloo curry.
  • If you love fresh ginger, experiment by adding half a teaspoon to your garlic.
  • Add a few Kashmiri chillies or any red chillies for a little extra kick to your lamb vindaloo. 
  • If you can find it, adding some tamarind paste to your recipe can layer in some wonderful flavor.

FAQs

What does vindaloo taste like?

Vindaloo is a spicy curry that has bright tangy notes from vinegar and mustard, and a little richness from coconut milk. It is truly unique and delicious.

How spicy is vindaloo curry?

While vindaloo is known for being a very hot, spicy curry this particular lamb vindaloo recipe is about a medium on the spice scale. You can make it hotter if you like by adding 2-3 chopped green chillies with the garlic and/or another spoonful of cayenne (or Kashmiri chilli powder).

Which is hotter: vindaloo or madras?

Vindaloo has the potential to be hotter than madras because vindaloo recipes do not always contain coconut to temper the heat. Ultimately, Vindaloo and Madras are similarly spicy curries, both from South India. It will come down to the individual cook (or recipe).

Where does vindaloo originate from?

Vindaloo is originally a dish from South India, and the flavors of garlic and vinegar are influenced heavily by the Portuguese explorers in the 15th century. 

Pro Tips and Tricks

  • Let the spices cook until you can really smell them cooking. If they aren’t properly cooked in the beginning, the flavor won’t be as developed.
  • Watch that you don’t burn the garlic or the onions, or your sauce will turn bitter.
  • Make it a day in advance to let the spices and flavors seep into the meat and sauce.

Other Curry Recipes You Won’t Want To Miss 

Check these out if you’re looking for some other curry dishes to try out at home: 

Close-up shot of lamb vindaloo on a plate with rice and some fresh cilantro.

Lamb Vindaloo Recipe

Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 1 hr 30 mins
Servings 8 servings
Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Indian
Keyword Lamb Vindaloo

Ingredients
 
 

  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 4 cups diced onion
  • 3 ½ tsp kosher salt divided use
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 ½ tbsp vinegar
  • 2 tbsp grainy mustard
  • 2 ½ lbs boneless lamb cut in 1 ½” – 2” chunks
  • 2 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp minced cilantro to serve

Instructions
 

  • Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and 1 tsp of the salt. Cook until very soft and nicely golden, about 20 minutes, reducing heat if onions start to brown before they’re soft.
  • Add garlic, cayenne, cumin and turmeric and cook 1-2 minutes, until garlic is soft and spices are fragrant. Add the vinegar and mustard and cook a minute more, stirring frequently. Add the lamb and the coconut milk.
  • At this point, you can simmer on the stove for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until pork is tender, or transfer to a pressure cooker, stir in the sauce, and cook on high pressure for 30 minutes and let the steam release naturally. Top with cilantro.

Video

Notes

 
  • Bone-in lamb meat will give you more flavor than boneless, so consider using it if you have a good butcher.
  • This recipe yields a wonderful large batch of curry – handy if you want to feed guests and have leftovers for the freezer. You can also halve the recipe. 
  • It gets better with age. Let it rest overnight or for a couple of days, and you’ll notice the flavors develop further.
  • The vinegar and mustard are there to cut through the creamy richness of the sauce.

Nutrition

Calories: 364kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 32gFat: 22gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0.03gCholesterol: 94mgSodium: 1890mgPotassium: 614mgFiber: 2gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 122IUVitamin C: 7mgCalcium: 54mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Lamb Vindaloo

Last Updated on January 26, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD

5 1 vote
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Peter
Peter
6 days ago

5 stars
10/10.

Kate
Kate
6 days ago

5 stars
I love lamb curry and had never tried vindaloo. I have to admit I was not sure about the ingredient list having mustard and coconut milk together LOL but I trusted you and it is so freaking good.

Vanessa
Vanessa
6 days ago

5 stars
Delicious. Made exactly as written and it was so good.

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