NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.
Rogan Josh is a popular Kashmiri dish that is believed to have originated in Persia before making its way to Northern India and beyond (in Persian, “rogan” means clarified butter and “josh” means hot or passionate). Its signature red color is historically the result of mild red Kashmiri chiles which were used in making this dish. Over the years, many restaurants started using tomatoes in the dish to bring about that red color easily. My recipe follows the more modern interpretation of the dish, mostly because you and I don’t have the money to travel to Kashmir for some chiles! Well, maybe you do, but I most certainly do not.
An excellent cut of lamb for this dish was the other half of Lava Lake Lamb’s beautiful lamb shoulder (the other half was used to make shashlik). This slightly-fatty cut imparted a ton of flavor into the dish, which just tasted better and better the longer it simmered.
I’m also happy to announce that this is my first recipe that features a printer-friendly version! I’ll be sure to do this with every recipe from now on, and as I get the spare time I will go back and make printer-friendly versions of all my recipes.
1/2 lamb shoulder (2 lbs)
2 medium onions
1″ fresh ginger (or 1 tsp ground ginger)
8 cloves garlic
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 bay leaves
10 whole cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp coriander
2 tsp cumin
2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp each salt and pepper
1 14oz can tomato sauce
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 large handful of cilantro, chopped (about 2 cups)
I would suggest getting your lamb shoulder out of the freezer two days in advance, ours took a while to thaw out.
Cut half of the shoulder into large chunks (2″ or so in size) and set aside.
Combine the bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper and set aside. Similarly, in a blender or food processor, blend the onion, ginger, garlic, and water into a fine paste and set aside.
Warm up the coconut oil in a large skillet on med/high heat until shimmering, about three minutes. Add the lamb pieces and brown on each side.
Be sure to give the pieces a few minutes per side to form a nice crust before turning them.
Once the lamb is well-browned, reduce the heat to medium and add the onion paste and seasonings, stirring everything around (gently so as to not break up the bay leaves).
Continue to simmer for another five minutes until very aromatic.
Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes, stir together, and bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low, simmering for 1.5 hours. After an hour and a half, remove the lid and check to see if the lamb is fork-tender. If it is, keep the lid off and allow to simmer on med/low heat for another five minutes, which will thicken the sauce. If the lamb is still tough, cover and simmer on low for another 30 minutes and try again.
Right before serving, stir in the chopped cilantro. I should note that cilantro is not a historical part of this dish, but it definitely adds a “fresh” dynamic to the curry.
Serve with basmati rice or cauliflower rice. Easy!