Learn how to make this simple lamb rogan josh that features tender lamb pieces slow-cooked in a rich sauce made with ginger, garlic, tomato paste, a range of spices, and yogurt.
After spending some time traveling India, we uncovered the most delicious lamb curry that wasn’t as heavy as a vindaloo but also not as rich as a butter chicken. This was our introduction into a rogan josh and since then, it’s been a dinnertime staple!
What is lamb rogan josh?
Rogan josh is a type of Indian curry that features lamb in a red sauce flavored with spices, ginger, garlic, and a range of aromatics, including cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. The lamb pieces are first braised and then slow-cooked until tender. The dish often incorporates yogurt to make the sauce creamier.
It differs from other lamb curries (like a lamb korma) as it does not contain coconut milk or coconut cream. However, it is just as creamy as you’d expect it to be. We’ve tried it both ways and, honestly, can’t tell the difference!
This recipe calls for simple spices, yogurt, and of course, the lamb. If possible, try and get your lamb from a butcher, as we’ve found the meat to be more tender as opposed to the pre-packaged grocery kind.
- Lamb shoulder. Cut into small cubes. If you can’t find boneless lamb shoulder, use lamb leg instead.
- Yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt.
- Onion. Blended into a paste with three tablespoons of water.
- Garlic and ginger. Blended into a fine paste with three tablespoons of water.
- Oil. Any cooking oil will work.
- Tomato paste. To enrich the flavor of the sauce.
- Spices. This rogan josh recipe uses a mixture of ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric, paprika, and chili powder. Cloves, cardamom pods, bay leaves, and a cinnamon stick are also added for more flavor and an enhanced aroma.
- Salt and pepper. To taste.
- Mint. Fresh mint for garnish.
How to make rogan josh
Start with heating oil in a pot over medium heat. Add the bruised cardamom pods, cloves, bay leaves, and a cinnamon stick. Cook for a minute or two, and add the onion paste. Once fragrant, add the garlic and ginger paste and cook for another minute.
Add the spices and cook for 30 seconds. Mix in the tomato paste.
Next, add the cubed lamb, season to taste, and cook for 10 minutes. Lastly, mix in the yogurt and a cup of warm water.
Finally, bring the dish to a simmer and cook it on low heat for 60-90 minutes until the lamb is tender.
Instant pot and slow cooker instructions
While I prefer using the stovetop to make this curry, my mom actually prefers using her instant pot or slow cooker to make it. She likes using the latter option when she’s feeding a crowd because 1. her slow cooker is HUGE, and 2. she swears by the fact that cooking this curry longer tastes even better!
Instant pot instructions
- Set the instant pot to Saute mode. Heat the oil and cook the aromatics and onion and ginger pastes for a couple of minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes.
- Add the cubed lamb and sauté until the meat is no longer pink.
- Pour in the water, add the yogurt, and mix.
- Secure the lid and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes.
- Release the pressure naturally and open the lid.
- If the sauce needs more thickening, turn on the Saute mode and cook the dish open until the gravy thickens to the desired consistency.
Slow cooker instructions
- If your slow cooker has a Saute mode, turn it on and heat some oil. Cook the onion and ginger paste along with the spices and tomato paste.
- Add the lamb and saute for a few minutes. If your slow cooker doesn’t have the Saute function, use a pan instead and transfer everything into the slow cooker pot.
- Add water and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours. Once cooked, stir in the yogurt and serve.
What to serve with this dish
Rogan josh is a hearty dish that doesn’t call for heavy side dishes. This recipe needs to be the star of the show, so avoid making any fancy sides to detract from it.
For a classic curry pairing, try some Naan bread or Coconut rice. If you don’t have those on hand, Homemade bread is always a good choice.
To keep things lighter, green vegetables are always a treat. I like to air fry them when the curry is almost done, and Brussels sprouts, green beans, broccoli, or tender asparagus work best.
For something a little different, scoop leftovers into a baked potato or sweet potato. I LOVE eating leftover curry this way, and it makes the best next day lunch ever.
To store. Transfer leftovers to an airtight container and refrigerate them for up to 4 days.
To freeze. Freeze rogan josh for up to 3 months. Divide the leftovers into portions to be able to thaw them quickly.
To reheat. Reheat lamb on the stove over medium heat or microwave until it’s piping hot. Add a splash of water or broth if needed.
More Indian curries to try
- Paneer tikka masala
- Chicken tikka masala
- Shrimp curry
- Chicken curry with coconut milk
- Chana masala
- Chicken vindaloo
Frequently asked questions
Rogan josh is not one of the hottest curries though it is moderately spicy due to the chili pepper used to make it. You can customize the spiciness of this dish by adding more or less chili.
Rogan josh is one of the savory curries that lacks a sweet flavor. It is very aromatic and slightly spicy, with prominent ginger, onion, and garlic flavors.
Lamb Rogan Josh
- 1 1/2 lbs lamb shoulder diced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 inch ginger thinly sliced
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 6 tablespoons water divided
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 5 cardamom pods bruised
- 4 small bay leaves
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder optional
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt full fat
- 1 cup warm water
- Blend the onion with three tablespoons of water into a fine paste and set aside. Blend the garlic and ginger with the remaining water into a fine paste and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat and add cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, and cinnamon. Cook for 1-2 minutes then add onion paste and cook for 2 more minutes. Add garlic and ginger paste and cook for another minute.
- Stir in spices and cook for 30 seconds. Mix in the tomato paste and cook for one more minute.
- Finally add the lamb, salt, and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in the yogurt and the lamb broth or warm water. Bring to a simmer, adjust the heat to low, and cook for 60 minutes stirring occassionally or until lamb becomes tender. Adjust the taste if needed, and serve warm with rice.
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