School is back in session. FINALLY. My kids have been out of school since Memorial Day and didn’t go back until half a week before Labor Day. Talk about a long summer vacay. I mean epic summer break- between changing schools and cities, we’re never doing THAT again. But now it’s done and I can get back to some sort of a regular work flow. Which means making and posting about more yummies like lamb rogan josh in our new home.
New home? Yes, new home. Boston. remember the Chicago—> Boston move ✈ we had coming up? It’s done and we are *almost* settled into our new home, with the exception of a few boxes here and there. I’m still missing some equipment and some photo boards, but they’ll be in said boxes- I’m 2,000% sure. But we’re not talking about moving and unpacking and all things boxes. I’m in my happy place right now, DND pls and thank you. Today, we’re talking about rogan josh.
Rogan josh is a traditional kashmiri curry made with lamb and roasted kashmiri chilies, milder in spice than cayenne pepper or traditional red chili powder. I first became obsessed with it after having it at a neighborhood indian restaurant when The Mister and I had an apartment in Chicago, before most of the little humans were born. We’d have it every. single. week. But I was too intimidated to attempt a homemade version, with all the complex flavors that lingered for so long after. Because lamb is a very underrated ingredient, reserved for restaurant settings or parties. It also takes time to become melt-in-your-mouth tender.
But what if I told you that I can have those same results on a weeknight, in the Instant Pot, in 40 minutes from start to finish? This is exactly why I call this version of rogan josh a “cheat” recipe. I like to set it in the Instant Pot, let it come to pressure once I’ve prepped all the ingredients, and de-pressure naturally while I do things like prep school/work lunches, chase the tiniest humans around the house as they play with something they managed to find but shouldn’t be playing with, and help solve those dreaded fraction problems. All in a day’s work, my friend.
The masala mix: Don’t let the list of spices scare you. I promise, it’ll be worth it. The recipe for the spice mix makes 5-6 tablespoons. You can store it and have it on hand for a few other times. Your own customized rogan josh spice mix. And then you can drop it into the conversation, like a boss: “So I was toasting the spices for my rogan josh spice mix…” Now you’ve become the cool kid in your inner circle who toasts her own spices. You’re welcome!
Did I mention, it makes your house smell ah-mazing? The Mister walked in through the door, inhaled deeply and said “ZZZOMG! What is the incredible smell????” In fact, the mailman, when he delivered a package yesterday, said the SAME THING! ? Yeah, the mailman and I have become BFFs because superawesome delivery service much?
This spice mix has magical powers. Also, once you gather the ingredients, it’s easy-peasy to toast and grind. That’s it. You’re toasting and grinding. on your way to 5-minutes to masala magic. You have got it together, girlfriend. The kids are in school, John Legend is blaring and you’re singin’ along at the top of your lungs. No? Just me? However you toast, DO NOT let the whole spices burn or scorch or the rogan josh will taste bitter. If you end up burning, toss the spices and start over. Trust me. I’ve tried using burned spices before in an attempt to be frugal and had to scrap the entire dish.
If grinding the masala is too much commitment for you, don’t give up on making rogan josh. You’ll hate yourself for missing out. I heard that Penzey’s makes a rogan josh mix. I personally haven’t tried it but if you try it, make it, smell it, tell me how it is!
The sauce: The masala, combined with the lamb, simmering fills the house with a fragrance that tells your stomach beautiful stories of what’s to come for dinner. It’s a seductive flirtation between your stomach and the Instant Pot.This sauce is inhale worthy, with hints of smokiness, bits of sweet, cooked onions, combined with a little (or a lot) of heat that builds up over time. You can customize the spice level by adding more or less of the masala to the lamb. As written in the recipe, the masala is perfect for my family but we tend to love spice and spice is my life. Feel free to cut back to half the amount and leave out the black pepper and garam masala at the end of you prefer milder flavors.
Most rogan josh recipes also use yogurt in the base but I’m fresh off a round of whole30 and wanted to keep it compliant so I subbed full fat coconut milk in place of the yogurt. This is also a great, dairy-free alternative for people with lactose intolerance. If you still choose to use yogurt, add it one tablespoon at a time, at the very end of the cooking process, on low heat, so the yogurt doesn’t curdle. If you like more creamy and mild dishes, chicken tikka masala is more up your alley. But if you want complex, comforting spicier curry, then keep reading.
Instant Pot vs. stovetop: It’s up to you. I’m not the person who refuses to turn on the stove now that I have an Instant Pot. If you can be that person, more power to you. I appreciate things like cheesecake in the oven and eggs boiled stovetop. I will, however, take shortcuts to simplify meal prep, like soup in the Instant Pot or making lamb rogan josh in a fraction of the time, without losing flavor. Just build in time for the food to come pressure and then for the natural release of pressure at the end.
I couldn’t have timed this rogan josh better even if I tried. The New England air is starting to turn crisp in the evenings and right on schedule, everyone is pumpkin spicing all of the things ?. I’ll take a little (or a lot) of fun fall activities, all day, everyday of the year. And this stew-like dish is autumn warmth in your belly, served over a bed of rice, cauliflower rice, or naan. Rogan josh+fleece throw+Netflix will be exactly where you’ll find me this fall and winter, because GOT fans, winter is indeed coming but we are prepared.
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 3 tbsp avocado oil/vegetable oil
- 1 1/2– 2 lbs boneless lamb, trimmed and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2 tbsp or less rogan josh masala (recipe below)
- 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
- 1/2 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1/2 water
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (optional)
- 1 tsp garam masala (optional)
Rogan Josh masala mix*:
- 10 cardamom
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 12 cloves
- 1/2 tsp fennugreek seeds
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp cayanne
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- pinch of saffron (optional)
- Make the masala: In a medium skillet, add the whole spices (cumin seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom, fenugreek seeds) and toast until they become fragrant. Be careful not to let the spices burn or scorch. If they do, throw away the entire batch and start over. Pour into a coffee grinder or spice grinder along with coriander powder, turmeric, cayenne, paprika, and saffron. Grind to a fine powder and set aside in a container with a tight fitting lid.
- Make the sauce: On the saute setting, heat oil in Instant Pot and add onions. Cook until light brown, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook another 3 minutes. Add lamb and rogan josh masala mix and salt. Stir to coat lamb with spices. Add water.
- Place the lid on the Instant Pot and make sure the pressure valve is set to seal. Set the Instant Pot to manual pressure for 20 minutes and let come to pressure. Let the pressure release naturally or for at least 10 mins before releasing the vent.
- Set the Instant Pot to saute on high and stir in coconut milk. Bring to a boil and let reduce to desired consistency. Stir in garam masala and black pepper if additional spice is desired. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rice and/or naan.
*This recipe makes enough to use now and store for later. I store mine in a mason jar with a tight fitting lid in a cool, dry place, with the rest of my spices. For optimum freshness, I recommend using the masala mix within 3 months of grinding.