Goan Beef Vindaloo

The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!” – Part 5/8

Curry & Rice

Vindaloo has a pretty bad rep, being the lager louts favourite, but it’s actually a very traditional dish and a great example of early fusion cookery. It originated in Portugal – the Portuguese spice traders brought their traditional pork dish “vin des alhos” to the sub-continent, where the meat is braised in wine and garlic. The Indians substituted wine for wine vinegar and added lots of chilli and a little spice. This traditional recipe has a fantastic flavour.

It might look a little strange to see beef  in a curry as it’s not often seen in Indian restaurants here. But many Indians, such as Parsees, Muslims and Christians regularly eat beef and many traditional recipes exist for beef. Even some Hindus will eat “bull” beef or buffalo, only omitting the cow from their diet for religious reasons. Vindaloo is more commonly prepared with diced pork so you can easily substitute the beef.

Vindaloo should taste sour and pungent from the chillies and red wine vinegar. It’s for serious curry aficionados only, but you could try reducing the amount of chilli if you want a milder dish.

I love that this dish is so vastly different from the Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh and South Indian Lamb Curry that I cook. I think the important thing for us Westerners cooking Indian food is to embrace the differences between all of these dishes. It’s all too easy to expect every curry to taste the same, as it does in a bog-standard curry house.


  • 1.2kg stewing beef
  • 2-3 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • 500g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 15 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and chopped roughly (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 1 tbsp of each of the following: cumin seeds, poppy seeds, garam masala
  • 20 curry leaves (fresh, if possible)
  • 5 cloves
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp concentrated tomato pureé
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp red chilli flakes
  • ½ tbsp each of the following: paprika, turmeric
  • 1½ tbsp red wine/cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp light muscovado sugar
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped (optional)


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Prepare two masalas – one with the ground spices (chilli flakes, garam masala, paprika, turmeric) and one with the whole spices (cumin seeds, cloves, curry leaves, poppy seeds). Set aside.
  3. Place a deep cast-iron casserole on the hob and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook them gently for around 30 minutes until soft and light brown in colour.
  4. In the meantime, blitz the garlic, root ginger, tomatoes and water in a blender until smooth. Remove the browned onions from the casserole using a slotted spoon and add to the blender. Blend again until very smooth.
  5. Put the casserole back on the heat. There should be a little residual oil, but you can add a little extra. Add the masala made from whole spices and stir fry for a minute to release the flavours.
  6. Add the onion/tomato mixture to the casserole, then add the diced beef and the ground spice masala. Add the chicken stock, salt, vinegar, sugar and tomato pureé, then stir to combine. Cover the casserole and transfer to the oven and cook for about 2-2½ hours until the meat is very tender.
  7. At this point, you can spoon off some of the fat which has risen to the top of the sauce, if you wish. This is great with a pilau or plain basmati rice.

Serves 6.


  • Lamb curries are best, in my opinion, because the meat gives a deep flavour to the gravy. Chicken gravies can be good too, but need a little extra help. If you want to make this into a chicken curry, make the sauce as normal and cook in a low oven for 1 hour and turn the oven off. Leave the casserole to cool in the oven overnight. This will really develop the flavour of the gravy. When ready to cook, add cubed chicken or bone-in chicken breasts and cook for about an hour, or until the chicken is well cooked through.
  • Restaurant vindaloo invariably contains potato, seemingly caused by some confusion over the fact that potatoes are called “aloo” in Hindi. Potatoes are not found in a traditional vindaloo, but it is not uncommon to find potatoes in other meat curries. If you wish to add some potato to this dish, pre-boil some peeled potatoes in salted water and allow to cool. Fry the potatoes in hot oil with a little salt and a pinch of ground cumin until light golden. Add the potatoes to the curry a few minutes before serving to warm through.

2 Responses to “Goan Beef Vindaloo”

  1. 1 ian schofield September 25, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    good recipe came out delicious will be doing it again

  1. 1 The Big 8 - The only curry recipes you'll ever need! | Toasted Special Trackback on October 18, 2010 at 5:13 pm
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