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Rougan Josh, a Beef or Lamb Curry.

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Rougan Josh is one of the many traditional Indian curry dishes that appears on most Indian and Pakistani restaurant menus. This free recipe makes a rich and spicy but not too hot version of this dish. Normally the recipe would use lamb and you can substitute this for the beef but note the slight changes to the cooking method. This is not a quick main course to prepare, it can take 2 hours or more to get the meat cooked to the right texture, preparation takes about half to three quarters of an hour. Remember to remove as much of the whole spice pieces as possible just before serving and warn your guests to watch out for what you miss! Serve with plain boiled rice and a vegetable dish such as spinach or cabbage and carrot curry.

Ingredients for 4 - 6 servings:
  •  A piece of ginger equivalent to 2 cubes of 1" (2.5cm) each when peeled.
  • 10 small or 8 large cloves of garlic.
  • 3/4 pint (300 - 400ml) water
  • 8 tablespoons (120ml) vegetable oil for frying
  • 2lb (900g) beef or lamb (prepared weight), casserole steak preferred, cut into 1" (2.5cm) cubes.
  • 12 green cardamom pods.
  • 2 large or 3 small bay leaves
  • 7 whole cloves
  • 10 whole black peppercorns
  • 1.5" (4cm) stick of cinnamon
  • 8 oz (225g) onions, peeled.
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) red paprika
  • Cayenne or chilli powder to taste, 1/4 teaspoon is fairly mild.
  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) tomato puree
  • 1.5 teaspoons (8ml) salt
  • 2 large or 3 small ripe tomatoes cut into medium wedges, a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes will do but does not give quite the same flavour or visual appeal
  • 9 oz (250g) plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (3ml) garam masala
  • Optional, finely chopped fresh coriander leaves to garnish.


You will need a blender or be prepared to crush and pound the garlic to a fine paste and chop the onion VERY finely. to cook you will need a very large, heavy frying or saute pan with a well fitting lid. This dish could also be oven cooked at gas mark 4, 350F or 180C after the frying stage but will need a large casserole and should be checked and stirred regularly.



Coarsely chop the ginger and garlic and blend together with about 3 tablespoons of water until you have a very smooth paste. Remove paste from blender. Coarsely chop the onion and then blend in a similar fashion to the garlic. Mix the ground spices together in a small dish. Break the cinnamon stick into 4 or 5 pieces. Split the tops of the cardamom pods. Beat the yogurt gently in a bowl until smooth.

Heat the oil in the frying pan and when hot add the meat. Fry the meat in single layer batches until it is a medium brown colour and remove to a dish. Note that much supermarket bought meat loses a large amount of liquid when fried, all this liquid should be cooked away so that the meat fries at a good, high temperature

When all the meat is fried, reduce the heat slightly and add the whole spices (bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon) and stir for about 10  - 20 seconds or until the bay leaves start browning. Add the ginger and garlic paste taking care not to splash hot oil. Stir and fry the paste for 3 minutes. Add the blended onions. Stir and fry for about 5  minutes over a moderate heat until the oil separates into bubbles in the mixture. 

 Reduce the heat slightly and add the ground spices, stir and fry for 1 minute. Add the meat and all the juices that have accumulated. Increase the heat and bring back to a sizzle. Reduce the heat to minimum and very slowly add the yogurt taking care that it does not curdle by stirring continually. When all the yogurt is added, increase the heat and bring back to a gentle simmer whilst stirring continually. Add the water and salt, bring to a steady simmer. Make sure that you stir in any frying residue as this has trapped some flavour. Add the tomato puree and stir to dissolve.

Cover the pan and simmer cook for 1hrs (lamb) or 1.5hrs (beef). Stir from time to time and check that there is sufficient sauce to prevent burning, if necessary add a little more water. By this time the sauce should be rich and fairly thick. If using lamb, you may wish to carefully remove any excess fat at this time using a spoon. Do not remove it all, though.

Add the tomato wedges and continue cooking for at least 15 minutes or until the meat is thoroughly tender, this could be another half hour for beef.

Stir in the garam masala and cook for 5 minutes more.

Garnish if required, stir once and serve.

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Updated 6/2/2006