Rogan Josh is a traditional Indian lamb dish that’s wonderfully full of rich aromatic spices! Tender, delicious lamb shoulder slowly cooked in an aromatic, rich, and creamy tomato sauce full of spices and flavor. Serve this lamb curry to your dinner guests when you want to seriously impress them. It’s much easier to make than you might think!
If you’re unfamiliar with the joys of Indian cuisine, you may be scratching your head at this moment, wondering what is Rogan Josh (or maybe who?) Put simply, Rogan Josh (also known as roghan josh or roghan ghosht) is an Indian lamb stew/curry. The lamb meat is cooked in an aromatic tomato sauce until it’s so tender, it practically falls apart.
Rogan Josh is a very popular dish to order at many Indian restaurants. It’s usually listed right next to other well known meals, like Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala. If you’re anything like me, then you like to master these restaurant staples in the comfort of your own kitchen!
While there are other versions of Rogan Josh that I’ve enjoyed while out to eat, I must admit that my at-home version is by far the best I’ve ever had. Why? Because at home, you can always adjust spice to your own pallet, and who doesn’t love that!
When making this dish at home, you can completely customize the amount of spice that goes into it. Most importantly the level of heat! On occasion, when eating at Indian restaurants, I find that the meals served to me are a bit too spicy for my palate, like Chicken Vindaloo!
However, when I’m at home, I can add just enough heat to my recipe to spice things up and add flavor without making me chug milk. With that being said, if you’re a spice fanatic, toss some extra heat in there and enjoy – your kitchen, your rules!
How to Make Rogan Josh
Ingredients You’ll Need:
- Lamb – For this cut of meat, you’ll want to use lamb shoulder. It’s a tougher cut, but has nice marbling and amount of fat to make it tender with some extra slow cooking. It’s the perfect choice for stewing. (Check below for beef substitution.)
- Butter – Use either unsalted butter or ghee.
- Onions – yellow onion will work just fine.
- Garlic – for the best results, always use fresh garlic, and smash and mince it yourself.
- Ginger – Just like the garlic, you’ll need freshly shaved or minced ginger.
- Bay Leaves
- Tomato Paste – This, of course, is the key ingredient to the tomato based stew. Use unflavored tomato paste.
- Chicken Stock – if available, use Homemade Chicken Stock or vegetable stock.
- Spices – This may seem like a lot, but if you cook Indian dishes at home, you will most likely have them all on hand. I do tend to take a couple of shortcuts to make the dish a little easier but just as full of flavor. You will be using ground spices like paprika, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric, garam masala, ground cardamom, ground fennel seeds, salt, pepper, and a touch of cinnamon.
- Yogurt – Be sure to use plain, full fat yogurt.
Prepare the meat.
First, you’ll need to cut the lamb shoulder into small pieces.
Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Once melted, sear the lamb pieces in batches. You don’t want to overcrowd the pot. Once fully seared on all sides, remove the meat from the pot and set aside.
Make the sauce.
After lowering the heat to medium, add the onions and cook until softened.
Toss in the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.
Stir in the spices and bay leaves, stirring constantly as everything cooks for a few seconds.
Whisk in the tomato paste and chicken stock.
Add the seared meat with any juices back into the pot.
Cover and cook for about an hour and a half, until the lamb meat is completely tender. Give the stew a stir occasionally as the meat cooks.
Stir in yogurt and some more spices and cook for just a few more minutes.
Serve your Rogan Josh over rice with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro, and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use beef instead of lamb?
Beef is not something that you will see used in traditional Indian restaurants and homes. Even in a modern day, beef is a rare sighting and not used much in Indian cuisine.
Although this traditional recipe is made with lamb, people in the western countries do substitute beef or even chicken for lamb. If you plan to use beef instead of lamb, please remember that beef is much tougher and will need more time to stew. So you may need to plan for an additional hour of cooking. (If you plan to use chicken, the cook time will actually be much less than lamb.)
Serving Rogan Josh:
Serve your homemade Rogan Josh over a bed of fluffy basmati or jasmine rice. Don’t forget to grab some na’an, or roti, or any other delicious fresh Indian bread to soak up the delicious sauce.
You don’t want to let any of it go to waste! If you want to stay away from rice, feel free to use vegetables. Cauliflower is great to serve with this dish as well because it picks up the sauce perfectly.
Indian Lamb Rogan Josh Recipe
- 2 lbs lamb shoulder chopped into pieces
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter of ghee
- 2 medium onions
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 1 inch shaved or grated fresh ginger root
- 2 bay leaves
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 2 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 4 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp ground fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp garam masala added at the end
- 1/2 tsp ground fennel added at the end
- 1 cup plain full fat yogurt added towards the end
- fresh minced cilantro
- basmati or jasmine rice
- Measure and prepare the ingredients before starting to cook.
- Cut the lamb shoulder into small pieces.
- Preheat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add butter. Sear lamb in batches, not overcrowding the pot. Once seared on all sides, take it out and set aside.
- Lower the heat to medium and add sliced onions and cook until softened.
- Add in minced garlic and ginger. Stir and let is cook just until fragrant.
- Stir in the spices and bay leaves and cook for a few seconds and you constantly stir.
- Whisk in tomato paste and chicken stock and mix well.
- Add back the seared meat and the juices that ran off of it while resting. Stir well and lower the heat to low. Cover and cook for about an hour and a half until the lamb is completely tender. Make sure to stir from time to time as the meat cooks.
- Stir in yogurt, garam masala, and leftover ground fennel seeds. Sir well and let it cook just a few more minutes.
- Serve over rice, with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro, and some bread.