Lamb Rogan Josh
Serves 6 to 8
- For the spice mix:
- 1/2 teaspoon cassia bark pieces (or a 1-inch whole piece)
- 3 whole green cardamom pods
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 5 whole Kashmiri chilies (or 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder)
- 1 whole black cardamom pod (3 seeds only, use the rest for garam masala)
- 2 teaspoons ground sweet paprika (optional, for color only)
- For the rogan josh:
- 2 1/4 pounds boneless lamb shoulder or leg, marbled with fat
- 6 tablespoons neutral oil, divided
- 4 whole green cardamom pods
- 1 whole stick cinnamon
- 4 whole cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
- 1/4 cup hot chicken or lamb stock
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup Greek-style yogurt, at room temperature
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced (optional)
- 1 teaspoon sugar, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
- Salt to taste
- Large handful fresh cilantro, chopped, to garnish
First, make the spice mix. Toast each spice (except for the paprika), one by one, for about 30 – 45 seconds (until fragrant) in a dry skillet over high heat, and transfer to a bowl. Let cool completely, then blend to a fine powder in a spice grinder.
Trim the lamb of excess fat, and then cut into large chunks. Rub the spice mixture into the lamb.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven, and sear the lamb pieces on all sides, being careful not to burn the spices. Don’t crowd the pan; do this in batches, if necessary. I prefer to do this on a medium-low heat. Transfer to a bowl.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan, and add the whole cardamom, cinnamon stick, cloves, peppercorns and fennel seeds. Sauté for 30 seconds, until the spices are fragrant, then add the hot stock, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Cook for one minute.
Return the lamb to the pot. Whisk the cornstarch into the yogurt, then add this to the pot. Stir for a minute, and season with a little salt. Cover the pot and turn the heat down to very low. The sauce should barely be bubbling.
Cook for an hour. After an hour, uncover the pot. Taste and add a little more salt. Continue to cook, uncovered, for an additional 2 hours or until the lamb is very tender and the sauce is reduced.
Meanwhile, heat the last 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy pan over low heat. Add the onions and 1 teaspoon of sugar. Caramelize the onions, stirring occasionally, until sweet and brown, about 40 minutes.
When the lamb is tender, stir in the onions, if using, and 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding more salt, sugar and red wine vinegar, as required to balance the flavors for a deeply spiced, rich sauce.
Stir in the cilantro. Serve with rice or tandoori roti.
Slow Cooker Rogan Josh: Pre-warm the slow cooker while you prep the dish until the point where you add the yogurt. Transfer the whole dish into the slow cooker. Cook on low for 4 – 5 hours. Once the lamb is lovely and tender, stir in the cornstarch whisked yogurt and caramelized onions (which can be made ahead in a slow cooker, too) taste and season with red wine vinegar, sugar and salt. Stir in the cilantro.
Oven Rogan Josh: You can also put the dish into the oven to cook. Preheat the oven to 250°F. Once the yogurt has been added, cover the pot tightly with aluminum foil and the lid, and place in the preheated oven for an hour. Take out, stir and season some more, then cover and place back in the oven for 2 to 3 hours, checking every so often, until the lamb is tender. If the sauce is drying out too much, add a splash of hot stock. Season with the red wine vinegar, sugar and salt, and stir in the cilantro to taste.
I stirred in the caramelized onions at the end, instead of starting with them, is because it gives you the option of leaving them out. Like I mentioned, this recipe is closer to the Kashmiri Pandit version, so if you want to stay completely authentic, you can leave out the onions altogether.
This is a fairly fiery dish. If you want to reduce the spiciness, use less of the peppercorns and chillies.
Don’t use regular chilies in place of Kashmiri chilies. Kashmiri chilies are much milder. If using regular chilies, use only one or two and increase the paprika, as they won’t add the deep red color of Kashmiri chilies.