Rogan Josh (Kashmiri Lamb Curry)

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.

You’ll Need:
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!

Printer-friendly version

72 thoughts on “Rogan Josh (Kashmiri Lamb Curry)

      1. In Pakistan this is called( Mutton Karhi) . This is a wonderful liking of Lahories. Same ingredients and all recipe. But it is served with Roti


  1. I love lamb…AND this is my favourite type of curry sauce…serves me right for looking at your blog on an empty stomach! ; )


    1. I have just tried this recipe and I found the taste of tomato far too much, to the point that it was impossible to taste the spices. As I live in the UK one thought crosses my mind and that is what do you mean by Tomato Sauce. In the UK other than tomatoes chopped up we only have puree in tins but did you mean ketchup?


        1. Thats funny, I’m in the uk also and was confused. Firstly i thought can’t put tomatoe sauce (ketchup) in, then thought as it said can that it was a tin of tomatoe soup. Then i thought well i just won’t write this one down. Glad someone asked, and since it is tomato puree, approx how much as mostly comes it squeezy tubes here. Thanks x


          1. Sometimes I make my own tomato sauce with whole tomatoes. 2 1/2 lbs. quartered and drizzled with olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper. Then into the oven for an hour at about 400 degrees. Switch baking sheets midway through. Then when you take them out of the oven you allow to cool enough to go into a food processor or blender. This way I can keep added sugars out ( I have diabetes), and the roasting intensifies the flavor. Don’t be afraid to let them blacked a little. Delicious. I wonder if this would be good on wild rice, or with other grains.


  2. I’m Indian American and this is indeed a North Indian and Kashmiri recipe. It is indeed extremely delicious, and I appreciate the fact that your recipe stays almost true to the original dish. What’s funny is that I am not a lamb aficionado, but Rogan Josh is a dish that I will eat with full appreciation. And I also have to wryly thank you because I’m in college right now and cannot eat Indian food, but looking at those delicious pictures just increase my cravings. Ah, sighs. Well, thanks for the recipe … and the additional DEEP cravings for Rogan Josh :D


  3. This look absolutely DELICIOUS! I’ve only had Rogan Josh one time, in Iran actually at the age of 12, and have fond memories of it. I look forward to trying yours out!


  4. Made this last night. Unfortunately, lamb wasn’t in the budget so I made it with beef stew cubes. It was amazing! The flavors, wow! Will definitely work this into the rotation. Thanks very much for sharing this.


  5. Wow, I just tried this for the first time. The only lamb dish I’m familiar with is an Indian Lamb meatball that was so spicy I could hardly consume it. It was served with yogurt and tortillas. I was looking for a good lamb curry for my family get together, and having no experience in this department decided that your recipe was as good as any. I used bone in lamb shoulder chops, browned them and then dumped it all in the crock pot. I just tasted it, and I turned into one big WOW! This is really delicious. I added a teaspoon of curry and less onion since my family doesn’t care much for onion and only half the cayenne. This is just amazing. Thanks for sharing!


  6. This was FABULOUS!!!! We raised our own sheep and have aaaaa lot of meat in the freezer and was beginning to hate lamb! But this was Mmmm! I cant even tell you how much I enjoyed this! Thank You!!!!!


  7. Russ, thank you so much for this. I’m based in the UK and have just made this. For the benefit of other brits I used one tin of chopped tomatoes, and then blended one tin of organic plum tomatoes to make up the extra sauce. I also couldn’t find coconut oil to buy today so used ghee instead which my girlfriend and I agree added an authenticity level to the dish. This was absolutely the best home made curry I’ve ever made.


    1. Oh, and one other thing, I added the spices to the meat for a few minutes before adding the onion, ginger and garlic paste, to give them the time they need to roast to intensify their flavours :)


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    The clearness in your post is just excellent and i can assume you’re an expert
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    Thanks a million and please continue the enjoyable work.


  9. I made your recipe. It’s currently in my slow cooker. So far it smells and tastes delicious. Last time I ,are rogan josh it had yogurt in it tho. Maybe that wasn’t authentic… Idk. Well thanks for the recipe. I can’t wait to try it. I made double the recipe tho cuz my butcher only sells a whole lamb shoulder. :0 lol so I have a ton :P


  10. I prepared this recipe for dinner tonight, it was delicious !! My husband loved it.
    I put it on the slow cooker for like 4 hours.


  11. Another outstanding success! I made The Ancestral Table version and added a little fresh lime juice with the cilantro at the end. I was debating adding yogurt but didn’t. I am extremely happy with the results!


  12. I LOVE this recipe, it is a monthly staple in our home. Being from Texas, I add more cayenne but we like a little heat down here. Honestly, The Ancestral Table is one of my very favorite cookbooks. In fact, I just bought a copy for my non-paleo but truly food loving brother. He flipped through your book and saw several recipes he wanted to try. I just got your new cookbook and am super excited to start cooking. Thank you for sharing your talent with the rest of us.


  13. I just made this recipe, mostly, and it was delicious. I only had a lb of meat so I halved it and I didn’t have any diced tomatoes or tomato sauce… so I used chicken stock and plenty of tomato paste, along with one lone wrinkly tomato. It worked great. :)


  14. Russ, if you still live in the Pensacola area, have you found anywhere that sells a whole lamb shoulder? Only thing I’ve been able to find are lamb shoulder chops at Publix.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. This may be a very good house curry, but it’s not Rogan Josh. You’ve left out two of the most important ingredients in Kashmiri Rogan Josh — ground fennel and full-fat yogurt — and added two entirely foreign ingredients, tomatoes and cloves. The red color of real rogan josh comes from ground red chilis (kashmiri mirch) or paprika of a medium heat, not tomatoes. Publish this as your own probably wonderful curry, but don’t misinform people by calling it Rogan Josh, because it isn’t.


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