Tacos are great delivery vehicles for many ingredients that aren’t necessarily Mexican in origin. Tex-Mex, for example, takes generally healthy fare and loads it up with cheese and sour cream to drown out the benefits. I’m not going to do that to you. This Mex-Indian fusion recipe will have you feasting on lean lamb and balancing it with healthy corn tortillas, cucumbers, yogurt, cilantro, onions and a lot of spices. First, look at my Gluten-Free Spa Tacos recipe to make your own corn tortillas and then go crazy loading them up with this spicy, Indian-style lamb curry. Just don’t skip any of the steps because these lamb vindaloo fusion tacos are best when they have the cucumber raita, chopped cilantro, and the pickled onions piled on top of the meat.
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There are quite a few flavors at play in this dish and I welcome the sweet-sour-spicy dynamic of the vindaloo from coconut milk, vinegar, and spices. Although traditional vindaloo is a Portuguese-Goan creation that utilizes pork, the gamey flavor of lamb really shines in flavor-packed dish. It just works. I used boneless lamb stew pieces and they reached a tender and shreddable state with about 2 hours of braising (after the overnight marinade).
As I wrote in the introduction, you really don’t want to skip the easy accompaniments like the cucumber raita. It certainly helps cool down the spicy vindaloo curry sauce and it’s a snap to make.
To finish the vindaloo with a little extra flavor boost, add a dash of Kashmiri curry powder or Kashmiri garam masala powder. It’s not traditional to add Kashmiri spices to Goan curry, but this is a fusion recipe anyway and they love spiced lamb in Kashmir (ever heard of the famous Kashmiri lamb dish called rogan josh?).
- ½ cup white vinegar
- 3 dried Guajillo chiles, seeded
- 3 dried Chiles de Arbol, seeded
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 cloves
- 5 pods green cardamom
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- ½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 knob ginger, peeled and minced
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 3 pounds lamb shoulder
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ English cucumber, diced
- 1 red onion, sliced thinly
- ¼ cup lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 avocado, sliced for garnish
- Cilantro, chopped for garnish
- Corn tortillas
- In a bowl, combine the vinegar, dried chilies, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom. Allow to soak for 20 minutes to soften the chilies. Pour into a blender and add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds, black peppercorns, garlic, ginger, coconut milk, and salt. Puree for 2-3 minutes until completely smooth. Pour the marinade over the lamb, rub, and marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 4 hours.
- In a bowl, combine the yogurt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of salt and the cucumber. Stir thoroughly and refrigerate until ready for serving.
- In a bowl, combine the sliced onions, ¼ cup lemon juice, and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.
- When the lamb has finished marinating, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- On the stove, heat a large deep, oven-proof pan over medium-high heat. Add the ghee and heat until melted.
- Add the lamb to the pan and brown on every side. Remove lamb and set aside.
- Add the diced onions to the pot and saute until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes.
- Add 2 cups of water and the coriander powder to the pot. Bring to a simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan to lift up all of the browned bits.
- Add the reserved lamb and any juices they have released. Add enough extra water to the pot so that it comes half of the way up the sides of the lamb.
- Cover with a tight-fitting lid. Place on the middle rack in the oven and cook for 2 hours, turning once.
- Remove the lamb from the pot and, once cool enough to handle, shred the meat.
- Place the pot with the braising liquid back on the stove and bring to a simmer. Reduce until it has the consistency of a thick stew. Add the shredded lamb meat to the liquid and add the garam masala powder and additional tablespoon of vinegar. Stir to combine and simmer for 3-4 minutes.
- To serve, heat corn tortillas in a skillet until lightly charred. Fill each tortilla with the braised lamb and top with raita, pickled onions, avocado slices, and chopped cilantro.