HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Tenderer Lamb Vindaloo

I have been making a lamb vindaloo that is tastes great, but the lamb is not very tender. The procedure is:
1. Make a masala using onions, vinegar, chicken stick, spices, ect
2. Debone a leg of lamb, trim much of the fat and cube it into 2” pieces
3. Add leg of lamb to the masala and simmer for 30 minutes.

I took the end temperature of the meat and it was 192F, which is barbecue level. Most lamb vindaloo recipes say simmer until tender, so I am thinking I need to simmer longer.

Here is the recipe, I just substitute leg of lamb for the beef (it is the only cut I have found locally).


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
    1. re: boogiebaby


      Pressure cookers are used all over the planet, but we in North America seem to have a 1960-phobia to them. "I'm worried it'll explode... I don't know what to make with it... how much time can it possibly save???".

      Ridiculous. Being able to cook something that would ordinarily take 3-4 hours in 45 minutes is a godsend to ordinary home cooks who just want to get something tasty on the weeknight table.

      I'd also add something passionate about being able to ultra-fast marinade cubes of lamb in a whipping siphon, but it's too early to blow anyone's mind.

      1. re: biggreenmatt

        Yes, I was going to get some sous vide equipment. I am now leaning towards a pressure cooker. What do you think? Nerd? =)

        1. re: Matt_in_the_OC

          Just simmer it for 90 minutes, which will be fine for shoulder or leg. Only the very toughest cuts of stewing lamb requires longer than this. Stir every now and then. No further equipment needed.

          BTW I reckon that the timing for the beef in that recipe is way too short. "Beef top sirloin" is not a name used for any cut here in the UK. Maybe it does stew to tender in 40 minutes, but I'd use shin, or perhaps skirt, and gently simmer it for two and a half hours.

          1. re: Matt_in_the_OC

            Heh. I bought myself a copy of MCaH last year, and since then, I've really taken to modernist ways of thinking about food. Both my sv unit and my pressure cooker get regular use in my kitchen, but of the two, the pressure cooker's the more versatile and more practical.

            Pressure cooker as "modernist" implement. Pfft. Try telling that to the rest of the world and they'll laugh their asses off.

            1. re: biggreenmatt

              wouldn't they, though?

              Quite a surprise to leave the US for a few years and find out that the rest of the world never stopped cooking with pressure cookers...and that they are definitely on to something.

              1. re: biggreenmatt

                How much quality (flavor or texture) is lost in the pressure cooker verse a traditional braze, stew, or slow cook?

                1. re: Matt_in_the_OC

                  None. That's the beauty of it.

                  (sorry, but my Grammar-OCD self is rebelling at "tenderer" - it might be in the dictionary, but I was told it's tender - more tender - tenderest. Whew. Please resume your normal programming)

                    1. re: JMF

                      so glad to know I'm not the only one who was struggling to control the twitch!

            2. re: biggreenmatt

              Totally agree on the speed and convenience of having a pressure cooker.

              When we were living abroad, *everyone* had a pressure cooker, so I decided to try it.

              I'm hooked. I don't use it every day, but it's an awesome way to have slow food fast.

          2. Recently I learned a great tenderizing tip from America's Test Kitchen. They were using it on bite-sized pieces of either pork or chicken, which were then stir-fried. It might not be as effective on 2" lamb cubes, but worth a try.

            Dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in 4oz of water, and stir in the cubed meat. Let sit for 15 minutes. Rinse several times, pat dry, and proceed with recipe. The baking soda inactivates an enzyme that causes protein strands to shrink when heated. Since the strands no longer contract, they do not force out the liquid they contain, so the meat is both more tender and more moist. I have not done this with lamb but it works for me with chicken, pork, and beef.

            If you don't want to try baking soda, marinate your cubes in soy sauce for a day before cooking. The salt in the soy will in effect "brine" the lamb, making it less prone to drying out
            in high heat.

            1. Agreed. You simply need to simmer longer. It's going to need around an hour.

              1. Simmer longer and don't totally trim the fat. The fat will prevent the lamb from drying out and give body to the sauce.

                1. I would try lamb shoulder and simmer longer until tender. I've had it take anywhere from 45 min to 3 hours. Keep the simmer low to break down the connective tissue, don't simmer hard or it will dry out before getting tender.

                  1. Leg of lamb is a lean cut, meant for roasting. It will not respond well to the treatment of slow-cooked-bbq given to fattier cuts will lots more collagen (shoulder, for example). Leg will be be very tough cooked to 192F.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Karl S

                      Although leg is the cut generally used by asian restaurants.

                      1. re: Harters

                        For vindaloo in the States, I think shoulder is more typical; leg is used for tandoori kebabs, by contrast.

                        1. re: Karl S

                          I am having trouble getting good sources for anything other than leg and ground lamb. I will try some more places to find a shoulder.

                          1. re: Matt_in_the_OC

                            I made it again. I simmered for 60 minutes, the meat was more tender, but the flavor was not as good. I think the vinegar evaporated. I will try 90 minutes and add more liquid.

                            1. re: Matt_in_the_OC

                              If you are having problems with your Masala and Vinegar losing their punch I think sticking to a more traditional method would work better for you.
                              Make your Masala the day before and marinate the cubed protein (Traditionally Pork) over night in the Masala.

                              Clean the Masala from the Meat and reserve.

                              "Brown"(it does not really color much) the Meat in a heavy bottomed Pot till any liquid has been evaporated and the Meat is firmed up.

                              Add Masala and sauté till fragrant.

                              Add Water to cover and simmer till Meat is tender.

                              Adjust Salt and Vinegar.

                    2. 30 minutes? that's practically raw. ;-)> As others have said, you need at least an hour or more. 192 for bbq is after several hours.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: JMF

                        Thank you for your reply. I will make it tomorrow and report back.

                      2. You are thinking right.

                        1. I vote for just cooking it longer before you get more complicated

                            1. I brown the meat first (well, technically I brown the onions, then add the meat and some vinegar, then the other masalas when the gamey smell has dissipated), cover and simmer for a while. If the lid of your pot has a ridge, add some water on top which keeps the juices in rather than letting them evaporate away, which also provides a gentler simmer and reduces the risk of anything sticking.

                              A pressure cooker reduces the cooking time, but you would still need to simmer everything outside after that to develop the flavors (speed cooks the meat, but you don't want to speed cook the sauce).

                              The baking soda method works (for tougher cuts of meat usually), but I was taught not to use it unless desperate (not sure whether it was a real or imagined nutrition-diminishing concern...).

                              The other that is used (again for tougher cuts usually) is raw papaya - the enzyme of which is what's in commercial meat tenderizer I'm told. But I haven't used it so far.

                              For Indian stews / curries, lamb shoulder may be more forgiving than leg (at the Whole Foods near me, they say their "lamb stew meat" is a mix of shoulder & leg for that reason).

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: saregama

                                Thank you all for you replies. The correct answer was to simmer it longer. I still have not found a source for lamb shoulder, but the leg of lamb did turn out tender. Here is the original recipe:

                                Here is what I ended up with:
                                Lamb Vindaloo with Special Basmati Rice

                                1 Red Onion, sliced
                                6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
                                1-inch thumb fresh ginger, roughly chopped
                                1 Serrano Pepper, roughly chopped
                                1 Tablespoon Paprika
                                1.5 teaspoons Cumin, ground
                                1.5 teaspoon Turmeric, ground
                                1/8 teaspoon Cinnamon, ground
                                1/8 teaspoon Cloves, ground
                                30 Grinds Black Pepper
                                3/4 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
                                3/4 teaspoon Red Pepper
                                1 teaspoon Chicken Base
                                3lb Lamb Shoulder (Last Resort: Boneless Leg of Lamb), thick pieces of fat trimmed, cut into 1" cubes
                                1 Cup Water
                                1/4 Cup Fresh Cilantro, coarsely chopped

                                Cook red onion and salt in an oiled pan over medium-high heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and Serrano and cook for 1 minute. Add the paprika, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper to the onion mixture. Cook, mixing until the spices are toasted, but not burned.

                                Add vinegar, red pepper, base, and salt to the onion mixture, scraping up anything that is stuck to the pan. Add the onion mixture to the blender and blend until smooth.

                                Mix the onion mixture with the lamb in a pot. Brown the lamb with the onion mixture being sure not to burn it. Add the water to the blender and mix to remove any leftover onion mixture. Add the water to the lamb and scrape up anything stuck to the pan. Put the lamb mixture in the slow cooker and place in the refrigerator to marinate for 12 hours. Cook lamb in the slow cooker on low until the meat is tender, about 7 hours. Add salt to and additional vinegar taste. Top with cilantro.

                                Special Basmati Rice

                                3 Cups Basmati Rice, rinsed in a colander until water becomes clear
                                5.75 Cups Water
                                15 Grinds Black Pepper
                                1/2 Cup Water
                                1/8 teaspoon Saffron, crumbled
                                1/8 teaspoon Turmeric
                                1/2 Cup Butter

                                Rinse rice in a colander until water becomes clear. Place rice in a bowl of water for 10 minutes to soften rice. Drain rice in a colander.

                                Put the rice, water, 1.5 teaspoons salt and pepper into the rice cooker. Press “cook” on the rice cooker. Once the cooker is done, allow rice to stand for 5 minutes with the lid on.

                                Boil water and saffron in a pot. Reduce the mixture to 3 tablespoons, about 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Mix turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon salt with the saffron water. Add the butter to the saffron mixture and cook until melted.

                                Add rice to the butter mixture until the butter mixture is completely absorbed and the flavor is intense, but not so much that the color is not bright or the flavor is mild. Place the rice that was not mixed with the butter mixture on a plate and top with the butter rice mixture.