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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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
  • 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.


The recipe for Indian restaurant spice mix is here.
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

3 thoughts on “lamb vindaloo – indian restaurant style

  1. 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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