Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh

The Big 8 – The only curry recipes you’ll ever need!” – Part 3/8

Curry & Rice

Rogan Josh, when done well, is one of my favourite Indian dishes. Traditional Rogan Josh is miles apart from the restaurant version you may be familiar with. According to Camellia Panjabi, “rogan” is Hindi for “red”, referring to the deep red colour imparted by the use of mild Kashmiri chillies. “Josh” means “fat”, referring to the fat which melts out of the meat during braising. This recipe uses my standard base curry recipe and traditional Rogan Josh spices such as cardamom, fennel and saffron. The result is a dark, highly aromatic gravy – my trick is to lightly crush some of the green cardamoms to release lots of flavour.

A word on the spicing. Most traditional recipes specify fennel powder instead of fennel seeds – if you can’t find it and don’t have an electric spice grinder, just add the whole fennel seeds. The saffron can be optional as a lot of people don’t like it, but for me it’s indispensable in this dish. Use just a small pinch of saffron threads so that you don’t overpower the rest of the spices. Leave to infuse a little warm water before adding to the gravy. Finally, if you can source dried Kashmiri chillies mentioned above, use those instead of the chilli powder specified below. I add a tablespoon of sweet paprika to boost the red colour instead.


  • 1.2kg diced lamb (shoulder or leg is good)
  • 3 tbsp sunflower/groundnut oil
  • 500g onions, chopped (about 3 large onions)
  • 8 cloves  garlic, peeled
  • 50g root ginger, peeled and chopped roughly (about the size of a golf ball)
  • 400g canned tomatoes
  • 600ml chicken stock
  • 1 cup yoghurt
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp each of the following: red chilli powder, sweet paprika, ground coriander
  • 1 tsp each of the following: turmeric, fennel powder
  • 6 green cardamoms
  • 1 large black cardamom
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of saffron threads, soaked in warm water for a few minutes


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. First off, prepare all the ingredients above. Prepare two masalas – one with the ground spices (cayenne, paprika, ground coriander, salt) and one with the whole spices (bay, cardamom, cloves, fennel seeds, pepper corns). Crack the black cardamom and peppercorns using a mortar and pestle. The green cardamoms should be crushed a little more vigorously, making sure at least some of the black seeds within are crushed to a powder. Set the masalas aside.
  3. Place a cast-iron casserole on the hob and heat the oil. Add the onions and cook the onions gently for around 30 minutes until soft and light brown in colour.
  4. 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 lamb and the ground spice masala. Pour in the chicken stock, yoghurt and saffron mixture, then stir to combine. 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. Garnish with some julienned fresh ginger. Best served with plain basmati rice.

Serves 4-6.


  • This recipe also works fantastically well with lamb shanks. Brown 4 shanks on all sides in a separate frying pan before adding to the gravy at Stage 5, in place of the stewing lamb. The shanks will take a little longer to cook, at least 3 hours. This is called “Nalli Rogan Josh” and would make an impressive dinner party dish for fans of Indian food.

6 Responses to “Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh”

  1. 1 Sheila Kiely August 9, 2010 at 12:18 pm

    Rogan Josh looks great and will give it a go soon. I love Indian Food and have been working my way through Cameillia Panjabi’s ’50 great curries of India’. Looking forward to following the rest of the Big 8.

    • 2 Toasted Special August 9, 2010 at 12:32 pm

      Cheers Sheila. I wish I had bought Camellia Panjabi’s book years ago. I’ve seen some negative comments about the measurements used in her recipes (too much liquid etc.), but they’re great for ideas and inspiration. I use it to get ideas for authentic spicing. What other recipes have you tried?

  1. 1 The Big 8 - The only curry recipes you'll ever need! | Toasted Special Trackback on August 11, 2010 at 2:36 pm
  2. 2 Goan Beef Vindaloo | Toasted Special Trackback on August 23, 2010 at 11:41 am
  3. 3 Lamb Saag | Toasted Special Trackback on November 22, 2010 at 12:13 pm
  4. 4 Lamb Shank Rogan Josh | Toasted Special Trackback on June 16, 2011 at 2:49 pm
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