Saturday, April 23, 2011

Lamb Rogan Josh (otherwise known as "Tastey Boy's Easter Lamb")

When the British colonised India in the 18th century, they developed a penchant for spicy food that changed their own cuisine and palates forever. That is what Indian food does—once you’re exposed to it, you’re spoiled forever and there’s no turning back. Which is precisely what has happened to Tastey Boy! When I started planning for Easter lunch, he adamantly refused any sort of traditional western lamb roast and insisted that I make his all-time favourite lamb dish—Rogan Josh. Eating lamb on Easter Sunday was upholding tradition enough; he just got it prepared his preferred way!

Rogan Josh hails from Kashmir in north India and reflects all the culinary influences brought on by successive Islamic invasions of the region. Rogan means “oil” in Persian and josh means “hot/boiling/passionate/red.” The dish gets its characteristic red colour from Kashmiri Mirch—a fairly mild and aromatic, but intensely red chilli powder from Kashmir that is similar to hot paprika. And not to forget the liberal use of ghee that imparts the dish with its distinct fragrance.

I’ve messed around with various classic Rogan Josh recipes over the years and culled all those techniques into something that is uniquely mine. You can prepare this dish on the stovetop from beginning to end. But I find that enveloping it in the dry heat of an oven intensifies the flavours and yields a rich, unctuous curry that is unmatched.

6 lbs [2½ kgs] bone-in Lamb, cut into roughly 2-inch, stew-sized pieces (I prefer a combination of lamb loin, shank and rib cuts)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
4 tbsp Ghee
2 tbsp whole Black Peppercorns
4 whole Cloves
2 whole Cardamom pods
4 sticks Cinnamon
4 Bay leaves
2 whole Black Cardamom pods
¼ tsp blades of Mace
2 large Onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely crushed Garlic
1 tbsp finely crushed Ginger
2 tsp ground Cumin
2 tsp ground Coriander
5 tbsp Kashmiri Mirch (Kashmiri Chilli Powder)
Salt (to taste)
½ cup plain Yogurt (whisked with 2½ cups water)
  1. Wash and thoroughly pat dry lamb pieces.
  2. Heat vegetable oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, over high heat. Add lamb pieces in batches and brown well on both sides. Remove lamb from pot and set aside in a large bowl.
  3. Add 2 tbsp ghee to the pot. When the ghee is smoking, add black peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, black cardamom and mace, stir for about 1 min and allow the spices to swell. Add onions and fry for 5–7 mins, until golden brown and well caramelised. Add garlic and ginger and continue frying for 2 mins.
  4. Mix cumin, coriander and Kashmiri chilli powder in a little water to make into a paste and add to the pot. Stir briskly for about 5–7 mins, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pot, until the oil starts to separate from the spice mixture. 
  5. Add lamb and accumulated meat juices to the pot and stir well to coat the lamb pieces thoroughly in the spices. Add salt and continue stirring the lamb for 5 mins. Add yogurt, stir and bring to a brisk boil. Turn off heat.
  6. Add remaining 2 tbsp of ghee, cover the pot tightly and place in the bottom rack of a 350ºF [175ºC]] pre-heated oven. Cook for about 1½ hrs, or until the lamb feels very tender when prodded with a fork, and a dense, creamy gravy has formed. Stir and baste the lamb every ½ hour while it is cooking. If the liquid in the pot becomes insufficient, add 2-3 tbsps of water at a time, as needed. (Alternately, you can skip the step in the oven and continue simmering the lamb on the stovetop over low heat for 1½ hrs.)
  7. Remove lamb from oven and transfer to a warm serving bowl. Serve hot.


  1. I am definitely going to cook Rogan Josh this weekend!

  2. Do it- this was a heavenly Easter din!

    -Tastey Boy

  3. We made this last night for dinner. Thank you for the recipe! It's just lovely. Mmmm :)



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