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"A gourmet who thinks of calories is like a tart who looks at her watch." - James Beard


Friday, February 1, 2013

Lamb Vindaloo

We love curries. The spicy richness is so warming in the depths of winter and it fills the house with aroma for days.  But they're not always the healthiest choices calling for fattier cuts of meat, oil or ghee and sometimes yogurt or coconut milk.  Plus there's the rice and naan we like to have on the side.  This is a slightly slimmed-down version of lamb vindaloo inspired by Clean Eating magazine.  

Some people think "curry" is the name of a spice in their spice rack but it's actually any of a number of dishes made with a blend of spices.  Here's a great article about the history of curries.  I learned while making this dish that vindaloo actually means wine & garlic in Portuguese, a leftover from their influence in India. Most versions of vindaloo will have plenty of garlic and vinegar.  I love learning tidbits like this about world cuisine, especially these tales of long ago food fusion, like the French influence in Vietnamese food.  

This version is kind of spicy. I was wishing for some raita to cool things down, but I'm a wimp so most people should be able to handle it.  Here's what you need for this lamb vindaloo:

  • 1.5 lbs boneless lamb shoulder 
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 hot chili peppers
  • 1 1-inch piece of ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you like it)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil or other cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cups beef broth (I made a quick stock from an onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf, peppercorns and a meaty beef bone I'd stored in the freezer, but store-bought is fine)
  • 1 lb white potatoes
  • Fresh cilantro (optional)

Whew, that's a lot of ingredients!  But the process is actually pretty simple.  This particular recipe calls for ground spices and I happened to have them all on hand thanks to a generous Christmas gift.  Some curry recipes call for whole spices to be toasted, then ground.  

This is my lamb shoulder.  It had quite a lot of hard fat that had to be removed so it took quite a while to trim it.  If you can find cubed lamb stew meat, that would make life much easier.

I trimmed the fat from the lamb and cubed the meat.

Now for the spice paste.  Instead of toasting and grinding whole spices, this recipe calls for the ground spices to be mixed with the garlic, peppers and vinegar then cooked as a paste.  Not sure if it's an authentic method but it worked well.

Peel the garlic cloves and ginger and add them to a food processor or blender along with the stemmed hot peppers.  I partially seeded mine but you can leave them all in or take them all out depending on your heat tolerance.  

Now add the spices, salt and pepper to a small dish.  All except the mustard seeds.   

Gorgeous.  I love the turmeric on the right the most. It has very little flavour but adds such a fantastic colour.  

Add the spices and the vinegar to the food processor. and process until smooth.

Meanwhile, add the oil to a large pan.  Heat over medium and then add the mustard seeds.  Stir for about 2 minutes until they begin to pop.  

Add the onion and cook for another 5 minutes or so until translucent.  

Then add the spice paste from the food processor.  

Cook, stirring for about 5 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated and you have a thick paste.

Now move the paste to one side of the pan and add the lamb cubes. Sear for 2 minutes without stirring.

Then stir the lamb and paste together for about 5 more minutes to brown the meat on all sides.

Next add your beef broth.  Stir and bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes over low heat.  Dice your potatoes. and add them to the lamb after 30 minutes, then continue to simmer for 30 minutes more.  While this is cooking, make your rice.

Here's the finished product after simmering.  The sauce is very thick and coats the meat and potatoes.  

Now place some rice on a plate or shallow bowl.  This is basmati, steamed.

Then serve the lamb stew beside or over the rice.

I served it with steamed green beans and a little store-bought naan.   It tasted incredible!
I know it sounds like a lot of ingredients, but once you have all the spices it's really quite easy to pull this together and the taste is so worth it!  Can't wait for the leftovers!   


  1. Lovely, i love a lamb vindaloo. Thanks for sharing this recipe.


  2. Thanks for the comment Simon! I love it too.