Lamb Vindaloo—a savory and slightly spicy dish of tender braised lamb bites. This Indian-inspired dish is the perfect recipe for a date night in. The lamb is FULL of flavor from bold spices and is delicious served over a grain pilaf or with tender naan bread. 

Overhead image of stewed meat and sauce in an oval baking dish set on a gray table with wine set around and herbs

This lamb vindaloo is:

  • Spicy 
  • FULL of flavor
  • Super savory
  • Saucy
  • Tender
  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Low-carb (paleo & keto)

What is lamb vindaloo?

At the most basic level, lamb vindaloo is a spicy braised lamb dish seasoned with bold flavors from dried chiles, peppercorns, cardamom, and cloves (to name a few). Small bites of lamb shoulder are braised in the spicy sauce until tender and often served over rice but can also be served with grain pilafs, naan bread, and more. 

Overhead image of stewed meat and sauce in an oval baking dish set on a gray table with wine set around and herbs

How do you make lamb vindaloo?

This recipe requires a few steps, so hang in there with me. Once we break it down you will see how simple the process really is. Plus, all of the steps are simple and easy to follow—not too much technique. And, I promise, the end result is well worth it. 

  1. Season American lamb with salt.
  2. Toast spices and dried chiles in a Dutch oven or large pot.
  3. Transfer toasted spiced to a blender with vinegar, ginger, tamarind paste, and turmeric and blend until smooth.
  4. Toss American lamb with blended spice mixture, cover and set aside for 1 hour or refrigerate for 4 hours. 
  5. Heat oil in Dutch oven, add mustard seeds and cinnamon stick and cook 2 minutes (seeds will pop!).
  6. Add onion, garlic, chiles, and sugar and until onion is golden brown.
  7. Add lamb, it’s marinade, and water to Dutch oven. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven. Cook lamb in oven (braise) for 1½ hours. 
  8. Skim grease from mixture, stir in bell peppers, season with salt and serve.
overhead image of multiple images showing the steps for how to make Lamb Vindaloo

What cut of lamb should be used for lamb vindaloo?

Classically, lamb vindaloo uses lamb shoulder roast. The important thing to remember here is to use shoulder roast, not shoulder chops. For vindaloo you want chunks of should meat because they braise the best. Likewise, be sure to get boneless shoulder roast. It will make your life easier and will ensure you have the right amount of meat for the dish. If you do end up getting bone-in shoulder roast, you’ll need the total weight of the cut to increase by about 8–12 ounces more (so you’ll need a 2½–2¾ pound bone-in shoulder roast as opposed to a 2 pound boneless shoulder roast).

Overhead image of stewed meat and sauce in an oval baking dish set on a gray table with wine set around and herbs

Where can I find American lamb shoulder roast?

Even though this dish has Indian roots, I like to seek out American Lamb. Why? Eating locally is important to me and I find the quality of American Lamb to be exceptional. If you aren’t sure where to find American lamb, I recommend calling around to local grocery stores and butchers and inquiring about what types and cuts they have on hand. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, ask them to order some for you, and be sure to ask for American lamb!

A note on the nutrition of lamb:

If you’re interested in the nutritional breakdown, 3 ounces of American lamb shoulder roast contains 160 calories, 21 grams of protein, and is an excellent source of vitamin B12, zinc, and selenium. Plus, March is Lamb Nutrition, if you’re interested, check out the American Lamb Board’s website for more nutrition info!

If you’re a lover of lamb, give the American Lamb Board a follow on Instagram!

Side angle of stewed meat and sauce in an oval baking dish set on a gray table

How to serve lamb vindaloo:

I like to serve lamb vindaloo over a grain pilaf made of barley, currants, kalamata olives, and cilantro. However, there are a variety of ways you can serve lamb vindaloo:

You may also like these lamb recipes…

Overhead image of stewed meat and sauce in an oval baking dish set on a gray table with wine set around and herbs

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Don’t forget, if you make this Lamb Vindaloo, leave a comment and rating below!

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Overhead image of stewed meat and sauce in an oval baking dish set on a gray table with wine set around and herbs

Lamb Vindaloo

  • Author: Lauren
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes + 1 hour rest time
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 3¼ hours
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Simmer / Oven
  • Cuisine: Indian

Description

This slow-simmer Indian dish features tender lamb and BOLD flavors. Serve with warm naan bread, rice or a whole grain pilaf. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 pounds boneless American lamb shoulder roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Salt
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 5 chiles de árbol, stemmed, seeded and torn in half*
  • 4 green cardamom pods 
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, or 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1⁄3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and thinly slice
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (or molasses)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds**
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 small red or green Thai chile or red jalapeño, stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • Cooked rice, bulgar, or barley for serving

Instructions

Toss lamb with 2 teaspoons salt; set aside. 

Toast peppercorns, dried chiles, cardamom, cloves, and cumin seeds in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer spices to a blender with vinegar, ginger, tamarind paste, and turmeric; blend, scraping down sides as needed, until smooth.

Add spice purée to lamb and toss to coat; cover and refrigerate for 4 hours (or set aside at room temperature for 1 hour).

Heat oven to 325ºF with rack set in lower-middle position.

Heat oil in now empty Dutch oven over medium-high; cook mustard seeds and cinnamon until seeds pop, 1–2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add onion, garlic, chiles, and sugar; cook until onion has softened and starts to brown, about 8 minutes. 

Stir in lamb and it’s marinade, 1 cup water (or white wine) and bring to a boil. Cover pot, transfer to oven and cook for 1 ½ hours until lamb is tender.

Using wooden spoon or rubber spatula, scrape any browned bits from sides of pot and stir into sauce; stir in bell pepper, if using, and let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Skim and discard grease from surface of sauce. Season vindaloo with salt to taste and serve.

 


Notes

* I like to leave the seeds in half of the chiles for added heat. If you like a lot of spice, keep the seeds in all of the chiles, if you like it mild, remove the seeds in all of the chiles. 

**if you do not have black mustard seeds, go ahead and use yellow. If you don’t have yellow either, feel free to leave them out altogether. 

To de-fat the vindaloo even more: make the lamb a day ahead of time, store it in an airtight container and scoop the chilled layer of fat off the top. 


Nutrition

  • Calories: 322
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Sodium: 1222mg
  • Fat: 23g
  • Saturated Fat: 8g
  • Carbohydrates: 8g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 20g
  • Cholesterol: 77mg

Keywords: Lamb vindaloo, vindaloo

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This post was sponsored by the American Lamb Board, as always the thoughts, opinions, recipes, photos, and content are all my own.

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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  1. I made this recipe substituting ground spices for most of the whole spices that are listed in the ingredients, because that’s all I had on hand, but it still turned out delicious, and very authentic in taste according to my husband, who loves this dish. I also took the liberty of adding one large diced tomato, to thicken and color the sauce, and also added potatoes (cooked together with the meat), as so many restaurant Vindaloos are made with potatoes. The flavor combination of white wine vinegar and white wine and all the spices was fantastic! Thank you! I will be making this again.

  2. I mad this with what I had on hand most of all the seasonings were ground and the Chili’s were Dried New Mexican red hatch. It was soooiiiiooooooooooo goood.

  3. Alert, I made this recipe with several substitutions, proving that you can substitute and end up with a ca most forgiving recipe and delicious flavors. I had not used lamb shoulder before. The spices were wonderful, I included fenugreek seeds, grinding them with the other toasted seeds (used my coffee grinder (no blender) I figured, any ground coffee in a grinder would enhance flavors to this bold, delicious vindaloo. I substituted tamarind paste instead, I used brown sugar. I browned the lamb meat, added red wine, and grated a large red tomato skin on until there was only a small shred of tomato skin left- this impart’s a rich tomato flavor to the gravy sauce being made. I also increased the cooking time, from three hours @ 200 degrees (The shoulder meat needed additional cooking time) to six hours @ 200 degrees, even with this, over 1/2 of the meat was chewy, instead of soft. The end product was an exceedingly flavorful, tender meat, delicious, with a large fig laced yogurt spooned on the serving.