lamb vindaloo – indian restaurant style

Lamb vindaloo is on every menu of every Indian restaurant in the world. And it’s there because it is one of the greats. Like madras. Or jalfrezi. It’s just really, really good.

OK. Maybe not every Indian restaurant. But almost all of them. Not easy to find one that doesn’t have it.

I’m biased, mind you. Lamb vindaloo is one of my favourites. Right up there with lamb madras.

There’s just something about lamb and spicy curries that works. The richness and depth of the lamb plays beautifully against assertive flavours. Balance.

This is not traditional style lamb vindaloo

The title says it. This is restaurant style lamb vindaloo. This is not the classic Goan dish.

It’s not pork. There isn’t even that much vinegar here. No description of vinha d’alvos. No romantic story about the Portuguese coming to India. Sorry.

This is what you get when you go out for dinner. Pretty much anywhere in the world. Except maybe India.

If you want authentic vindaloo like you ate in Goa, this is not it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

What it is is tasty. Really tasty. Lick your plate clean tasty. At least for me.

Lamb vindaloo, keema matar, dal palak and rice table scene from above.

Vindaloo paste makes this dish

I struggled with restaurant style vindaloo for a long time. Just couldn’t get it right. Because I followed conventional wisdom.

Took charming my way into an Indian restaurant kitchen to figure it out. I can’t remember what I was asking about.

Maybe their paratha technique. Or their butter chicken base. Who knows? But when I saw a line cook tossing a paste into a pan it all came together for me.

And now I use a paste. For vindaloo. Always.

Close-up of an Indian copper serving bowl full of lamb vindaloo with a spoon.

Don’t fear Kashmiri chilies

There are 10 kashmiri chilies in the recipe. And a tsp of kashmiri chili power. It sounds like a lot. You’d think it would be incendiary.

But it isn’t. Kashmiri chilies aren’t all that hot. They are a nice balance of spice and chili flavour. I love them because I can add a lot without things getting crazy.

Don’t get me wrong though. This is not butter chicken. As written it’s fairly spicy. If you’ve cooked other curries from glebekitchen you’ll know I spice to medium hot.

Flavour first. Fire second. That’s how I roll. This one is a little spicier than usual though. But not crazy hot. Still lots of flavour here.

If you like a spicier vindaloo just add some hot chili powder in with the dry spices. You know what you like. If you want pretty hot add a teaspoon.

If you want a blazing hot go for two teaspoons. It starts to be hot for the sake of being hot at that point.

I like flavour so I don’t go past two teaspoons. That’s pushing the flavour towards just tasting like chili powder. I am all about balanced flavours.

But it’s your call. It’s your dinner. Do what makes you happy. Be true to yourself. I’m not the curry police.

Serving dish full of lamb vindaloo from above.

Lamb vindaloo – the king of curries

King of curries is a pretty strong assertion. Maybe too strong. Everybody has their favourite.

But for me it’s up there. Lamb. Spice. Sweet. Sour. There’s complexity of flavour here. As long as you don’t stomp on it with tons of chili powder you’ll see.

It may wind up at the top of your list too.

Lamb vindaloo, keema matar and rice table scene from the front.
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4.86 from 14 votes

lamb vindaloo – restaurant style

Vindaloo paste is the key to this lamb vindaloo recipe. It makes a huge difference.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword indian chicken curry, lamb vindaloo, vindaloo paste
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Pre-cook the lamb 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 533kcal
Author romain | glebekitchen


Vindaloo paste

  • 8 dried kashmiri chilies
  • 1 large shallot chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic ginger paste
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp malt vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp water or a bit more – enough to get it to puree

Lamb vindaloo

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 dried kashmiri chilies
  • 1 tsp Indian restaurant spice mix – recipe link below
  • 1 tsp kashmiri chili powder
  • 1 tsp kasoor methi – dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • all the vindaloo paste
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste diluted in 2 tbsp water
  • 15 oz curry base – recipe link in the notes
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tsp jaggery sugar – can substitute brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce – seriously, it really adds a little something
  • 12 oz lamb stew Cut into 1 inch cubes and pre-cooked (see note). I prefer shoulder for this if you can get it


Make the vindaloo paste

  • Stem and seed the kashmiri chilies (not the ones in the curry – just the ones in the paste).
  • Soak your kashmiri chilies in hot, hot water for a few minutes. Drain and repeat. Repeat again. You may not need the third soak. You want them hydrated. Soft.
  • Combine all the ingredients in a mini food processor or your blender.
  • Puree. It will probably fight you. Scrape it down into the bowl try again. If that doesn't work add a bit more water and try again. You don't want a ton of water so add a bit at time. If it still doesn't go, add a bit more. Until it does go. Super annoying. I know.

Make your lamb vindaloo

  • Do your prep. The vindaloo paste is ready to go, right? You've pre-cooked your lamb? Combine the Indian restaurant spice mix, kashmiri chili powder, kasoor methi and salt in a small bowl. Preheat your curry base. Dilute the tomato paste. Now you're good to go.
  • Heat your frying pan (don't use non-stick) briefly over medium heat. Add the oil. It's ready when the oil just starts to shimmer. You may notice I'm using less oil that usual. That's because there's some in the paste as well.
  • Add the Kashmiri chilies and cook for about 10 seconds. Flip them and cook another 10 seconds. You should see little bubbles form around the chili. You want it toasted. Not burned. Be careful.
  • Turn down the heat and add the combined spice mix, kashmiri chili powder, kasoor methi and salt. This is the critical step. Stir it constantly for 30 seconds. If it starts to darken lift the pan off the heat. You want the spice mix to cook in the oil but not burn. If your spices burn start again. It can't be saved.
  • Add the vindaloo paste. Fry, stirring constantly, until it starts to darken. This should take about 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Turn the heat up to medium high. This is important. The Maillard reaction makes this work. Google Maillard if you don't know what I'm talking about. It gives curry it's Indian restaurant flavour. Add the diluted tomato paste and stir until bubbles form. This takes around 30 seconds to one minute depending on the heat.
  • Add 3 oz of curry base. Stir until bubbles form, around 60 seconds. It's like a lively boil except the curry base is frying in the oil.
  • Now add 6 oz of curry base and stir briefly. Let it cook until the bubbles form again. Let it cook about 2 minutes.
  • Add the rest of the curry base and let cook until the bubbles form. Stir in the tamarind paste, sugar and worcestershire sauce. Turn the heat down to low and add the pre-cooked lamb.
  • Let the curry simmer for about 5 minutes. If it gets too thick add a bit more curry base. Do not add water.
  • Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice or Indian flat bread and a good dal on the side.


Indian restaurant spice mix is used in many recipes on glebekitchen.
Curry base is a key ingredient in Indian restaurant style cooking.
Pre-cooking lamb
Pre-cooking your lamb is easy. Like making a super simple stew. Combine one pound of lamb with 1 tsp of your curry powder of choice and 1/2 tsp of salt. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer.
Cook until the lamb is tender. This should take about an hour for shoulder but depends on how big your pieces of lamb are. Might take a little longer. Lamb leg takes less time typically so if you are cooking leg start checking after about 30-40 minutes.
I like to make large batches of pre-cooked lamb at once. I then use a food saver and freeze individual curry portions so I can have lamb curry any time.


Serving: 2servings | Calories: 533kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 36g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 23g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 975mg | Potassium: 856mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1573IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 25mg | Iron: 5mg

26 thoughts on “lamb vindaloo – indian restaurant style”

  1. Hi Romain! I made this Lamb Vindaloo today for the first time and it was super. My favourite indian dish so far. Even my wife, who isnt’t a big fan of spicy dishes, said that it was the best indian dish she´s ever tasted. The only problem was that it’s impossible to find malt winegar in my home country. So I used red wine vinegar instead of it. Luckily it’s possible to order it from UK. I’m going to do that right away.

  2. Hi Romain

    Just quite curious to know if it’d have better flavour to boil the lamb together with the paste and soup base instead of pre-cook it separately?

    • I’ve never tried it that way using restaurant technique. It would be tricky but it might work if you are really careful. I suspect you’d still need to fry the resulting gravy to get the restaurant flavour so you’d have to make sure you end up at the same rough consistency you started with.

  3. 5 stars
    The recipe looks great, but this comment is sort of off-topic. I recently had some good restaurant lamb vindaloo and was considering making it at home. But I’m trying to count calories carefully.

    Like most recipe sites, the weight of the cooked food isn’t given. Would you consider adding this info? It’s so helpful to give a sense of just how calorie dense the food is before spending hours making it. Looking at the ingredient weights is a start, but the weight changes after cooking. Is the result a half pound of food or more like 3/4? It’s a big difference.

    Thanks for taking the time to read my suggestion.

    • Interesting request. I have never even thought of weighing the final dish. With a dish like this the final weight would vary with how hard the dish is cooked and the resulting final consistency of sauce (water content) as well as the internal temperature of the chicken (again goes to water content) so I’m not sure that my number would necessarily align with what happened in your kitchen…

  4. 5 stars
    Hi Romain, Vindaloo is my favorite indian dish. Just made three batches of this (and som Sambar as a vegetarian alternative) for a family celebration. Empty plates and big smiles all around. The only problem was that I didn’t get much myself! Lots of relatives were asking for the recipes afterwards 😉

    Really brilliant vindaloo recipe. And adding the Worcestershire sauce gave a nice extra kick. brilliant idea!

    • Haha. That happens to me sometimes as well. Lots for everyone except the cook.

      I’m a big fan of vindaloo flavours myself. Have you seen the vindaloo pulled pork and/or the vindaloo wings? I’m having a lot of fun these days playing with Indian flavours in less conventional ways.

  5. Hi Romain

    Looking to cook a Vindaloo dish and have been looking over you recipes but getting my self confused. With this Lamb one you use a lot of Kashmiri chillies and with your Indian restaurant vindaloo curry recipe you use the powder and some other different ingredients in this recipe.

    So just getting confused on which one I should tackle.


  6. Hi Romain, I’ve been making your curries for a while – love them . The Vindaloo I’ve Just made was out of this world ! My wife now says its her favorite and it was a hot one too , I didn’t de-seed the chilies 🌶 for the paste . Awesome job , thanks .

  7. 5 stars
    Do you think the restaurants use a ‘from the jar’ vindaloo paste, like Swad or Patak’s? I’m just wondering how they could make your paste recipe in an efficient manner?

    • I’m sure some of them do but I am also pretty certain that some make their own. They have the gear to scale in professional kitchens and they can get ingredients that we would have trouble sourcing (so perhaps a chili paste already made for example).

  8. 5 stars
    Hi Romain. I have I ruined my spice mix by adding a tablespoon of garam masala instead of a teaspoon? I can add more of the other powders if needs be. If it isn’t going to make a big difference then I’m happy to keep it as it is. Thanks 🙂

    • If it were any other ingredient I would probably say you are OK. With garam masala I don’t know. Garam masala is a pretty potent spice mix full of really strong, warming spices. I would maybe think about doubling everything else (so a double batch) except not add any more garam masala (so you are effectively going from 3x to 1.5x too much garam masala) or just starting over. I wouldn’t risk it as is though…

  9. Hi Romain,
    I have a question about precooking the lamb and freezing it…..I live in Mexico and on the rare occasion we find lamb (leg or shoulder) in my city, it is always frozen… my question would be can this be safely thawed, pre cooked and then frozen for use in the future……I thought I read somewhere that it wasn’t a good thing to do if it was already frozen but now I can’t seem to find the reference…your thoughts? thanks in advance.

    • My understanding is that thawing and refreezing is more of a texture issue than a safety issue. It’s really up to you whether the potential degradation is something you are good with. I haven’t tried it myself so I have no direct experience.

      As far as choice of lamb leg or shoulder for curries (or any braise really) I far prefer shoulder. Leg is a little to lean for my taste.

  10. Hello Romain,
    I notice you don’t have any pork recipes…could you substitute pork in this lamb vindaloo? or any other suggestions? thanks for making wonderful recipes

    • You are very welcome! Vindaloo is classically a pork dish so it could work with some pre-cooked pork shoulder perhaps. In general I don’t find the flavour of pork to work too well with Indian spicing. Not sure why that is because I am a huge fan of all things pork otherwise.

  11. Hya Romain, not a query on the Vindaloo recipe but can I use your Hotel style gravy in your Restaurant style recipes and if so do I need to adjust the quantity.

    • No problem. The styles are different so you can’t swap them one for one.

      If you want to use the hotel style gravy with the regular restaurant recipes use the spicing from the restaurant style recipe, omit the tomato paste if the recipe calls for it and thin out the final dish (assuming pre-cooked chicken as well). Follow the hotel style technique. That should work pretty well.

      I tend to tweak a bit more than that because the base flavours are so different but that should get you something tasty as a baseline.

  12. 5 stars
    Hey Romain, what looks like a sure fire winner in this household and look forward to trying it out at the weekend. As I always have several batches of vindaloo paste in the freezer (in 1/3 cup quantities), from your stand alone recipe, can I use this in place of the paste mentioned in this recipe?

    • Hard to wrong with lamb! Yes, you can absolutely use the vindaloo paste (and I love that you have some ready to go:-). I did this one as a stand alone recipe to make it easier for people but it’s pretty much the same stuff.

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