Spicy but not fiery, this northern Indian dish makes excellent comfort food
The weather is getting chillier here, so we’re starting to crave stews and braises, preferably ones with some snap. Which leads us to Rogan Josh (aka Roghan Josh or Roghan Ghosht). Who can resist meaty chunks in a rich sauce perfumed with aromatic spices?
This dish is loaded with flavor, but it’s not spicy hot, so it appeals to almost everyone. And it’s as easy to make as beef stew.
So serve this at your next dinner party. And introduce your guests to a whole new world of comfort food.
Recipe: Lamb Rogan Josh
Rogan Josh may be the signature dish of Kashmir, in the northernmost region of India. Because Kashmir stands at the crossroads of Asia, it’s had many political masters over the centuries. Beginning in the 16th century, the area was ruled by the Mughals, who introduced Rogan Josh.
Lamb (or goat) is traditional in this dish, but you can substitute beef if you like (see Notes). Indeed, this dish has spawned countless different recipes and variations. Some versions use onions and garlic, while others avoid them. Some include tomatoes, others don’t. And so on.
But what’s common to all versions is meat that’s braised in a sauce flavored with hearty spices, including dried red chilies and paprika.
You can serve this dish with an Indian bread or rice – such as our Aromatic Yellow Rice. Even better, serve it over a bed of mashed potatoes or Easy No-Stir Oven Polenta.
Our version of Rogan Josh is adapted from Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking. That book is long out of print, alas (it was originally written to accompany a BBC program of the same name).
Prep time for this dish (including browning the meat) is about 30 minutes. Cooking time is roughly an hour. If you wish, you can prepare this dish a day ahead. Just complete the cooking through Step 8, then cool and refrigerate the dish overnight. Warm and serve the next day.
This dish yields 6 hearty servings. Leftovers will keep for several days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 2-inch piece ginger
- 8 garlic cloves
- 4 tablespoons water
- ~2½ pound lamb shoulder or leg (may substitute beef; see Notes)
- kosher salt for seasoning the lamb (a teaspoon or two, and may substitute table salt; see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper for seasoning the lamb (a dozen grinds or so)
- ¼ cup olive or vegetable oil; more if needed (mustard oil is what most Indians would use)
- 2 medium onions
- 10 whole cardamom pods
- 6 whole cloves
- 10 whole peppercorns
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne (we like to increase this to 2 teaspoons, which makes for a significantly hotter dish)
- 1 heaping tablespoon paprika
- 1 to 2 teaspoons additional kosher salt (to taste; see Notes)
- 6 tablespoons yogurt (preferably Greek)
- 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1½ cups additional water (more if you want a watery sauce)
- ~½ teaspoon garam masala (optional)
- ~½ teaspoon additional freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- garnish of chopped parsley or cilantro (optional)
- Peel the ginger, chop it coarsely, then add it to the bowl of a blender or mini food processor. Peel the garlic and add it to the blender/food processor. Add 4 tablespoons water. Whirl until the mixture is puréed and blended. Set aside.
- Trim the meat and cut it into chunks measuring an inch or two (we prefer larger). Dry the meat chunks, then season them with salt and pepper.
- Place a large, wide-bottomed cooking pot (such as a Dutch oven) over medium stovetop heat. When hot, add the oil. Add enough pieces of lamb to cover the bottom of the cooking pot (don’t crowd). Brown the meat on each side (this will take about 5 to 8 minutes per side). You’ll probably have to brown the meat in several batches. When the meat is browned, remove it to a plate lined with a paper towel and allow it to drain. Add more oil during the browning process if necessary.
- While the meat is browning, peel the onions and cut them into ½-inch dice or thin slices. Set aside.
- When the meat is finished browning, add just enough oil to film the bottom of the cooking pot (if there is not enough oil left over from browning). Add the cardamom pods, cloves, peppercorns, and cinnamon. Stir until the spices take on color and become fragrant – maybe 10 seconds. Add the chopped onion (Step 4) and sauté until the onion begins to brown (5 to 8 minutes). At that point, add the ginger/garlic paste (from Step 1). Fry for about 30 seconds. Next add the rest of the spices – the coriander, cumin, cayenne, paprika, and salt. Fry for another 30 seconds.
- Now return the browned lamb chunks to the cooking pot. Stir the meat to combine it with the onions and spices. Add the yogurt a tablespoon at a time, stirring and cooking for a minute after each addition (to blend the yogurt with the meat). Then add the tomatoes, stir, and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the water and stir, making sure to scrape the bottom of the cooking pot thoroughly (in case any spices have stuck). Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook for 1 hour. (If you prefer, you can cook the dish in the oven at a preheated 350 degrees F.) Stir several times during the cooking process.
- At the hour mark, check the meat to make sure it’s tender (if not, keep cooking). Spoon off any fat that has risen to the top. If the sauce is too liquid for your taste, turn up the heat and continue cooking to reduce the sauce until it’s the consistency you prefer.
- Right before serving, sprinkle garam masala and black pepper (if using) over the dish and mix it in.
- Dish up the rogan josh (we like to serve it over polenta or mashed potatoes). Garnish with chopped parsley or cilantro, if desired, and serve. Don't forget to remind your guests that they may find some whole spices in this dish.
- Want to substitute beef for lamb? A good chuck roast would be our choice. It will probably take longer to cook, though (around 2 hours; see Step 7). You’ll probably need a bit more water, too (maybe an additional ½ cup) because the longer cooking time will lead to more evaporation.
- You could also try using brisket in this dish (we haven’t tried this, though, so no clue on how it will turn out).
- As mentioned in the headnote, you can prepare this dish ahead of time. In that case, don’t reduce the sauce when you cook it initially – you can do that as you reheat it.
- This dish requires a lot of spices. Don’t have them all on hand? You can skip one or two of them. The dish won’t have as much flavor, but it’ll still be good.
- We don’t recommend skipping the cayenne or paprika, though – their flavor (and color) are integral to the dish. (If cayenne is just too spicy for you, however, you can leave it out and replace it with twice as much paprika.)
- This dish traditionally is made with Kashmiri chile powder. If you can find that, by all means use it (in which case you really can skip the cayenne and paprika.) The cayenne/paprika blend we suggest approximates the flavor of Kashmiri chile powder.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It has larger crystals than table salt, so it’s less salty by volume. If using table salt, use about half as much as we suggest. But, as always, season to your taste, not ours.
“OK,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “So vacation is over and it’s back to blogland.”
“We had a great time,” I said. “A cruise, on the Regent Seven Seas Explorer.”
“Their newest ship,” said Mrs K R. “And a beauty. Wonderful food and drink.”
“Yup, we filled up on Dover sole and lamb,” I said. “As we sailed across the English Channel to Saint-Malo.”
“Where we got to see Mont Saint-Michel,” said Mrs K R. “So cool to visit an 8th century abbey that’s surrounded by water at high tide.”
“It rises over 300 feet above sea level – and we walked all the way to the top,” I said. “Lots of steps. So it was nice to sail on to the city of Bordeaux, and stay overnight.”
“Bordeaux looks like a miniature version of Paris,” said Mrs K R. “And of course we tasted wine. Lots of wine.”
“All of it lovely, and local,” I said. “Then we made our way to Bilbao, Spain. Another overnight.”
“Where we saw the fabulous Guggenheim Museum,” said Mrs K R.
“Yeah, it looks spectacular in pictures,” I said. “But it looks way more interesting in real life.”
“Then on to La Coruña, where we took an excursion to Santiago de Compostela,” said Mrs K R. “So interesting to see it – and think about the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who travel to it each year over the 500-mile Camino de Santiago.”
“Had a really good lunch there, too,” I said. “More research! Then on to Oporto, Portugal.”
“Home of port wine!” said Mrs K R. “Which, being the dedicated researchers we are, we had to sample. And sample. And sample some more.”
“Then Lisbon,” I said.
“Love all the red tile roofs,” said Mrs K R. “Such a pretty city. And then onto Cádiz. Home of sherry wine!”
“Which we didn’t have much time to sample, alas,” I said. “Because we took a long excursion to Seville – SO worth seeing.”
“But we did have sherry at lunch,” said Mrs K R. “And some local wine. And loads of fried seafood. More research, of course.”
“And we finally ended up in Barcelona,” I said. “A fascinating city – and much in the news, too.”
“Two glorious weeks, filled with sightseeing, eating, and drinking,” said Mrs K R. “Loads and loads of it. Nonstop.”
“Right,” I said. “Now that you mention it, I’m exhausted!”
“Not to mention jet-lagged,” said Mrs K R. “We need this hearty Rogan Josh to perk us up.”
And she’s not joshing.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Aromatic Yellow Rice
Easy No-Stir Oven Polenta
Spicy Pork Vindaloo
Spicy Potatoes with Ginger and Garlic
Indian Carrot Salad with Mustard Seeds
Vegan Mulligatawny Soup with Cabbage
Or check out the index for more
What a great vacation John and your lamb rogan josh must be so tasty with all the different flavors added. Welcome back to the blogland.
Your vacation must have been wonderful. I love those places, would enjoy a return to the French Atlantic coast -- though I still haven't been to Barcelona. I guess you had your fill of French & Spanish cuisine and are now turning to Kashmir?
Best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com
Hi Gerlinde, we had a great time, but it's nice to be back in blogland. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Mae, we actually made this dish for a dinner party before our trip. :-) Have never been to India -- would love to visit one of these days. Thanks for the comment.
Excellent. Love how you use the spices and not a short cut spice mix. That will really give it depth of flavor. I'm a bit of a brisket maven and I worry the brisket won't soften in the cooking time in the recipe and need more time to be tender and that additional time would break the yougurt. Of course it could work with some adaptions and it would be delicious.
Hi Faith, I know you're a brisket maven! Brisket is actually the traditional cut used in India for this dish (or so I've read), but I share your doubts. Which is why, when I make this dish with beef, I use chuck roast. Really need to try it with brisket sometime -- the flavor should be spectacular. Thanks for the comment.
All those spices are certainly up my alley. I also love lamb - it's a protein not enough people give a chance.
Hi Laura, lamb is probably my favorite red meat. So good! Thanks for the comment.
A perfect meal for chilly weather. It looks and sounds delicious.
Hi Pam, this really is nice chilly weather grub. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love making curries from scratch there is something so therapeutic about getting all the spices together and the smell they release when they cook is amazing.
Hi Emma, we sometimes use a curry mix, but the flavor is always so much better when made from scratch. And it really doesn't take much more time to make it that way. Thanks for the comment.
Wow - I love all the spices that are in this dish! It must be so flavorful and yummy!
Bill loves lamb and I hardly ever cook it. This lamb rogan josh would be a yummy addition to our menu!
Hi Amy, this has wonderful flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, it would! :-) Thanks for the comment.
This is my favorite dish at an Indian restaurant. I’ve made it before, but I’m pretty sure my recipe had cashews and almonds blended with cream. Now I have to go look. Or I’ll just make your recipe!
Hi Mimi, I've seen recipes that include cashews, although I've never made it that way. This is one of those dishes that has countless variations! Thanks for the comment.
I thought you might be travelling... your trip sounds amazing! Love, love, love Rogan Josh. My mouth is watering and it's only 7am as I read this from my kitchen table at Noosa Heads in the tropics. Thanks!
What an amazing trip! I would be tired too. So glad you had a good time, had some wine, and some more wine, and great food. Love this recipe - it sounds delicious! Welcome back!
Hi Liz, isn't this a good dish? One of our favorite Indian recipes! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Tricia, wine and more wine is a good recipe both for happiness and tiredness. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I am drooling... I am a big fan of Indian food and this dish looks superb, really appetizing.
Hi Denise, Indian food is wonderful, isn't it? Can't get enough! Thanks for the comment.
Ahhh...this is making my mouth water it sounds so delicious. Lamb is one of our favorite proteins and I will take it any day! Will put this on my lamb bucket list to try. Thanks for sharing! :)
Your trip sounds wonderful! And so does this dish; I'm all about comfort food right now!
Hi Pat, this is a truly terrific dish -- just loaded with flavor! You'll like. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kelise, with the chilly weather upon us, we're big into comfort too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
HELLOOO creamy and hearty protein packed dish! I would maybe swap in a little creamy coconut milk for the yogurt? See look at me tinkering with your recipe, to make it my own - LOL #wingingit
Hi GiGi, coconut milk sounds like a wonderful idea. #wingingit is good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I give your Rogan Josh my "Kashmiri" seal of approval!! Also I am totally floored by the idea of serving it with mashed potatoes. Why didn't I think of that!! May be because in Kashmir we always eat it with plain white rice and then become creatures of habit!! Welcome back to blogland !!
What a fabulous trip! Cruises keep you busy, but they are so relaxing because they take such great care of you! Sounds like a trip of a lifetime and I'm not joshing! And the lamb sounds pretty good, too!
Hi Ansh, we love to serve mashed potatoes with everything! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, it was a great trip! Been awhile since we've been on a cruise -- love unpacking once. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Stews like this one are always better the next day, I'd put it in the fridge overnight, for sure. The aromatic spices sound like a wonderful combination.
Sounds like you had an awesome summer holiday, we adore Barcelona, I sure hope they can work things out without bloodshed.
Hi Eva, this was our first visit to Barcelona -- wonderful city! So much neat architecture. We were there right after the vote for independence, and things -- at that time -- were pretty peaceful. Thanks for the comment.
Wow, look at all these spices, this is definitely something that I would love to have for dinner. Thanks for introducing us to this recipe. Welcome back John, I hope you've had a great time.
Wow, you certainly did a lot of traveling. I went to Mont Saint Michel 5 years ago- I heard that you now have to park quite a ways away, and then walk to the site. And Barcelona- hope you escaped the 'turmoil.' I am sure your blogging will now help you to get back to ground zero!
wow that sauce looks out of this world! I wonder if I can use chicken or seafood here. Can't take my eyes off from that sauce...maybe I should just make a huge batch of sauce LOL
Absolutely love the many spices in this dish, John, and I'm all about tasting international flavors and expanding the palate. Indian cuisine is divine, right? Beautiful! I always love your photography too :)
:::::Raising hand. I for one can't resist meaty chunks in a rich sauce. Sounds delicious John! Thanks for sharing this one.
We definitely prefer dishes with some snap. :) And I can imagine the waft of those fragrant spices right now ... oh, the lamb! Gotta put this on the menu right away. Thanks, John.
Wow! You are well traveled and jet lagged dear friend. Can't wait to see some of the photos. In the mean time, we will be making a huge pot of your delicious lamb rogan josh. Loads of flavor and just a little heat. Perfectly delicious.
Hi Amira, you do need a few spices to make this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Fran, you do have to park quite a distance from Mont Saint Michel, but there's a free shuttle you can take if you don't feel like walking. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Angie, you can definitely use chicken (I'd do dark meat). Haven't thought of trying seafood -- interesting idea. And yes, that sauce is wonderful! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Robyn, Indian food is terrific! One my my favorites. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Lea Ann, meaty chunks in a rich sauce speaks to most of us, I'll bet. And you're right -- can't resist. Who'd want to? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Judy, the aroma of this while it's cooking will drive you crazy! Thanks for the coment.
Hi Bobbi, I've got a ton of photos to sort through. May take awhile. :-) I gotta learn to start organizing them when I'm traveling. Thanks for the comment.
Wow, this looks like something! I've never cooked with lamb and this might be first one I am going to try. Looks really delicious!
I can't wait to try this. My husband and I both love Indian food. I am traveling for a few months but this definitely goes into my folder of inspiration for when I am back in my kitchen. Thanks for the detailed instructions! I am also always impressed with your food photography. What size lens do you use? May I ask?
Hi John, we were there during a demonstration and I was surprised at how peaceful and orderly it was. It will be interesting how this one will work itself out.
Were you in my head this morning? I was having morning tea and all of a sudden I had a craving for a hearty, meaty stew and here it is. We love lamb but don't use it near enough. I usually roast my leg of lamb, but this looks like what I'm craving. LOVE the spiciness, something that lamb holds up to quite well. Need to get over to Costco and buy me a leg of lamb.
Welcome home! Sounds like you had an awesome vacation! Can't wait to see the photos.
We talked to a few people, and they were pretty uncertain about what was going to happen. About 40% of eligible voters showed up at the polls, whereas a normal vote is more like 70% (or so we were told). But there was also a lot of pressure to prevent people from voting, so who knows? Interesting times. :-(
Hi Holly, lamb is wonderful! Bet you'll like it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nancy, this is definitely a keeper. Re the lens, I shoot with a Nikon crop camera (APS-C), and the lens I used for this is their 35mm (50mm equivalent for full frame). Thanks for the comment.
Hi MJ, when we have leg of lamb, I usually debone and butterfly it. So I can roast part of it, and use the rest for something like this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Your cruise vacation sounds wonderful, hope to see some of your pics;) This lamb rogan sounds like a delicious and comforting dish, just the meal to come home to.
Hi Cheri, I hope to post a few pics, although it won't be for awhile. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a spectacular vacation! It's always hard to get back to reality. It's getting cooler here too, especially the mornings and at night, perfect for heartier fare. I really like the idea of serving the rogan josh on polenta, fabulous!
When I am in Seattle I normally begged to eat Indian food. I am 2 hrs away in Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula. No Indian restaurants in sight. I often go with a married couple who were both college friends. The male in the duo always and I mean ALWAYS orders this dish. I spend some time with the wife last week and this dish entered the conversation. I told myself I had to learn to make it. And here it is!!!! The wonders of the Universe. Lastly I want to comment I am jealous of our trip. Just wanted to be up front about that. Seriously I'm glad you had such a wonderful time!!!!
Hi Deb, polenta is such a nice canvas for stews and such, don't you think? Mashed potatoes, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Carol, it's been awhile since we've done a really "big" vacation. This was a goodie. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Whenever I see the name of this dish, I can't help think of Josh Rogan, the guitarist. But I was just thinking about that as I was reading your post, and it occurs to me that I've never heard the name of this dish pronounced. Do you say the "o" in Josh like "oh, yeah"? Anyway, I do love this dish but have never made it at home. That's a hefty ingredient list! But I think it'd be fun!
Hi Jeff, yup, that's the way I pronounce it. And I think you'd love making this dish -- it's a little more complicated than many recipes, but you don't shy away from complicated! Thanks for the comment.
I've yet to go on a cruise, John, but it definitely sounds you and the Mrs. had a fantastic vacation! This dish looks amazing in all of that exotically spiced gravy!! Will have to give a try sometime for sure :)
Hi Marcelle, we had a wonderful time! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I always crave comfort food when the weather gets cold! Yum!
Hi Ashley, can't go wrong with comfort food at this time of the year! :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a wonderful coincidence -- my husband just had this at a local Indian restaurant. Thanks to your great recipe, I can now recreate it at home!
Hi Carolyn, enjoy! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Wow would you look at all the flavors in this dish. I can only imagine what it must taste like. I've never tried this before but am saving this recipe to try in the future. Thank you!
Hi Vicki, it's good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This dish makes my mouth so watery right now. Thanks a bunch for sharing such an awesome recipe, John! Is it possible to use tomato paste rather than diced tomatoes?
Hi Agness, I haven't used tomato paste in this, but I don't see why you couldn't. Fry the tomato paste in Step 5 for a minute or two right before you add the spices -- that helps develop its flavor. Thanks for the comment.
The trip sounds fabulous. I'm so glad you brought your appetite home with you. GREG
Hi Greg, we had a wonderful time! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Sounds like the perfect vacation, John! Your dish looks delicious, but I would have to make it with beef. Love all the good ingredients and that it can be prepared in advance. Thanks for sharing!
Hi Pam, this dish is really good made with beef, too. Or even chicken. :-) Thanks for the comment.
What a glorious trip and what a glorious dish!
Hi Debra, great trip, and this is a wonderful dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Now youre talking! this is one hell of a nice dish! I love it
It's actually still warm enough around here during the day for a dip in the pool, believe it or not, but that glistening lamb looks too good to pass up. Must be delicious, and I'll go for the lamb, in my opinion the most flavorful meat of all.
Hi Raymund, this is really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Frank, lamb is probably my favorite red meat -- SO much flavor. And it's terrific in this dish. Thanks for the comment.
Your holiday sounds amazing. What interesting places you visiting. I think Rogan Josh is my favourite Indian curry. I sometimes add a bunch of baby spinach at the end to make me feel like I'm getting more vegetables! xx
Hi Charlie, good to see you again! It was a terrific trip. And I love the idea of the spinach. Thanks for the comment.
This must have tasted so good I am sure. We usually serve Rogan Josh with Bakarkhani which is a mildly sweet, leavened flatbread spiced with saffron. They pair beautifully well together :)
Hi Taruna, the saffron would be really nice! That bread sounds wonderful. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi John, I thought I had popped in to comment on this divine recipe of years, but now I can't see my name, so it must have slipped through while we were travelling. Absolutely yummy. Looks so tasty.
Hi Liz, it's a great dish -- love Indian food. Thanks for the comment.
Post a Comment