Paleo Rogan Josh

Whenever I mention the Indian dish rogan josh to my friend Stacey, I accidentally call it Josh Rogan, and she says, “Who? What?” because she knows it’s really called rogan josh.

Yesterday, we realized I was reversing the names because of Seth Rogen–and then Stacey was confusing him with Josh Groban.

They’re nothing alike. See for yourself. That’s our buddy Seth on the left and Josh on the right.




Rogan josh (also: roghan josh) is a curry dish from Kashmir and is popular in India, Pakistan, Singapore, and the United Kingdom. And now, my kitchen in Austin, Texas.

Where the devil is Kashmir? I’m glad you asked…

I’d never eaten rogan josh before I bought the seasoning at the Penzeys store last summer based solely on how incredibly enticing it smelled. Different cooks make their spice blend different ways, but generally, rogan josh includes cardamom, cinnamon, clove, ginger, cumin, aniseed, saffron, fennel, and red chillies. The resulting curry is rich and creamy with plenty of depth, but not very much heat. Delicious, dino-chow comfort food.

Also, I’m not making any promises, but… “rogan” means oil in Persian and “josh” means heat, red, or (my favorite) passionate. Perhaps rogan josh is an aphrodisiac? I know it makes me feel good all over and it’s so delicious it makes me want to marry me.

Traditionally, rogan josh is made with lamb and yogurt, but I replaced the yogurt with coconut milk, and it worked great. You can substitute beef for the lamb if you prefer… and if you’re feeling particularly decadent, add sliced almonds to the sauce for added richness.

This recipe appears in my cookbook Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat — and below, because I like you.

Paleo Rogan Josh

Serves  6-8 | Prep 30 minutes | Cook 2 hours | Whole30 compliant

Rogan Josh Spice Blend:
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 3/4 teaspoon powdered ginger

  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 4 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper

  • 2 pounds lamb (stew meat, shoulder, or leg), cut into 1-inch cubes salt and black pepper, to taste

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

  • 2 medium onions, diced (about 2 cups)

  • 1 cup coconut milk

  • 1 1/4 cups water


In a small bowl, combine all the Rogan Josh spices and mix with a fork. In a large bowl, sprinkle the meat generously with salt and pepper, tossing with your hands to coat.


In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat, then add the lamb in batches and sear on all sides. Here’s a tip from me to you: Respect the contact. Put the meat in there and let it be for at least 5 minutes, so it gets a nice brown crust – resist the temptation to stir it. Give it some private time, and it will reward you for your generosity. (Do that with people and get the same result. Neat!)


When the meat is brown, add the chopped onions and cook until the onions begin to soften and show brown spots.


Add the Rogan Josh spice blend to the pan and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. The spices really come to life in the fat, so let them revel in it. Pour the coconut milk and water into the pot. Mix well, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer, allowing the meat to braise in the coconut milk for 1-2 hours.


When time’s up, remove the lid and let the sauce thicken a bit, about 2-3 minutes.

Tasty Ideas

This is great straight out of the pan, not that I would ever eat that way. Here are some other ideas for serving:

  • — over a pile of Oven-Roasted Cauliflower Rice

  • — next to a pile of fennel, sliced and sautéed with garlic and olive oil

  • — in a bowl, with sliced cucumbers and red or green pepper strips on the side

  • — atop a nest of kale (or chard or spinach or beet tops), wilted and cooked with coconut oil and garlic

  • — accompanied by a side of mint chutney (scroll down at that link to get the chutney recipe)

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  • michele says:

    nothing to do with joshes or rogans, but i was standing beside a slight and altogether unassuming woman on the subway today, and noticed she was reading a Dick Francis novel. i actually took a small step backward so i could re-assess her.

    she could be spy, or a double agent, or work for the FBI, i thought… you just never know.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    michele! Surely she was some kind of secret agent. How fabulous!

  • jencereghino says:

    My mouth actually (no really!) just started watering…and, I've already eaten. I love lamb! I love coconut milk! And, this spice combination sounds incredible…I can't wait to eat this!!!

    I have never visited a Penzey's, but see that there is one just 5 miles from my place of work…yeah! This could be trouble.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Jen, it's so good, it will make you weep with happiness. Go to Penzeys, sister!

  • Lydia says:

    Rock. On.

    I am a fiend for Penzey's Rogan Josh seasoning. Sometimes I sub it for paprika, sprinkled on top of egg casseroles.

    Rogan Josh is second only to Mural of Flavor for me. Which blend is your favorite?

    • Lynda says:

      Mmmmm, don’t stop at the Rogan Josh spice at Penzey’s. I’ve tried lots of their spices and absolutely love it. They have such a selection and it’s all good!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    I"m very, very attached to Pizza Seasoning because it really does make stuff taste like pizza, without the poison… and then I think about the mellow earthiness of rogan josh and think that might be my favorite. I pick both!

  • girlblake says:

    This looks mouth-wateringly delicious. I can't wait to try it out. I'll have to mix up a nightshade-free Rogan Josh blend for Weston's tendons, but hopefully it will still be a winner. Thanks for another fabulous recipe!

    • Kate says:

      Hey, how did that nightshade free seasoning work out? I find that I am allergic to chilli&cayenne but not paprika and need another way to add heat to the dish. Considering white pepper but not sure how much to add.. Any tips that worked for you would help! Thanks!

      • K says:

        If I remember right, Indian cooks used to use large quantities of black pepper before discovering cayenne. My personal experience of restaurant rogan josh is only slightly warm, not hot, so I just replaced the cayenne with black pepper and got a dish that just warms the mouth. Maybe replace and double the amount of black pepper for something hotter?

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Blake, I did a quick search for rogan josh spice blend recipes; there are quite a few online. I bet you could easily just delete the nightshades from the recipe and still get a really good flavor.

  • Lydia says:

    Mel, I'll put Penzey's Pizza Seasoning on my "next to try" list. Thanks!

  • Jesse Richards says:

    We made this dish for a small dinner party, and served it over spaghetti squash. Everyone agreed that the flavor was reminiscent of Skyline Chili (sooooyummybutsooooobad). What a great treat! Also, thanks for the turn on to Penzey's. The spices are awesome.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Hey, Jesse! Glad you liked it. And you've given me an idea: I'm going to work on a Cincinnati Chilli Recipe! Skyline totally is sooooyummybutsoooooobad. I'm on it!

  • Jesse Richards says:

    Sweet! My girlfriend is a hardcore skyline fan, and I'd love to surprise her with a recipe. Looking forward to it!

  • Paige says:

    Melissa – You are a godsend! My husband made this tonight with Fouscous and It.Was.Delicious! I think this is the 6th recipe we've tried from your site and we have loved every one! Thanks!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Paige –> I'm so glad you like the recipes! And I hear ya on the rogan josh… everytime I make it, I'm surprised at how totally freakin' tasty is it. I'm working on a homemade rogan josh spice blend recipe — can't wait to get that finalized and share it.

  • Emily says:

    I'd love to cook this for my honey, but he has an aversion to coconut. Does the coconut milk have a presence here or do the spices mask it? Thanks, looks amazing!

  • Lindsay says:

    What if I don’t have cast iron and want to use a slow cooker instead. Should I roast on high or low and for how long?

  • Mel says:

    Lindsay –> You can definitely make this in the slower cooker. You should probably reduce the liquid by half — so skip the water and just put in the coconut milk. I’d say 3-4 hours on low should do it.

  • Kelly says:

    I just tried sprinkling this over chicken thighs and tossing them on the grill. Thumbs up!

  • shayne says:

    i’ve made this a few times now – yum. this last go ’round i wanted a bit more heat. voila: in case you needed a super hot pepper blend in your life, look no further! warning: a few grinds goes a long way!

    loving the homemade rogan josh spice blend!

  • Shanna says:

    I made this over the weekend for my husband and myself. It was great. We used your homemade spice blend and it was fabulous! Thank you for such a great recipe.

  • Just made this for the first time tonight with the Homemade Rogan Josh and it was AWESOME! Saw that someone made it over spaghetti squash – one of my faves- Can’t wait to try that!

    • Mel says:

      Hooray! So glad you guys like this recipe. It’s pretty fun making the spice blend from scratch, isn’t it?! I feel like an alchemist!

      • It really was fun! I’m learning so much more about cooking from being Paleo than I have at any other time in my life. I can’t wait for your cookbook to come out either! Your recipes are so easy to follow!

  • SnazzyGina says:

    Making this for dinner tonight. SHAZAM…I’m excited!!!

    • Mel says:

      Make a double so you can have some for breakfast! Seriously! A little leftover rogan josh with some cauliflower rice and a few scrambled eggs is the best breakfast EVER.

      • SnazzyGina says:

        I did just that!! Can’t wait. Gonna bring a big tupperware full of it for my post workout dinner before holiday shopping. Going to make the fouscous to go with! Thanks MEL! You and your fabulous recipes are making this Whole 60 SUPER DELISH!

  • DVeep says:

    Mel, I’ve been wanting to try this recipe, but just threw a 4.5# lamb roast into the crockpot Thursday night as per this site:

    Today, I mixed up the Rogan Josh seasonings, added in 2 lbs of left over lamb roast, which was pretty much shredded meat by this time, 1 T coconut oil, the coconut milk and water (less 1/2 cup), and let it simmer for an hour. I had to leave out the cardamom. I think it is an acquired taste, which I haven’t acquired yet. It was still to die for! YUMMERS!

  • Lindsay says:

    Hey Melissa, I just made this, served on top of spaghetti squash and it was AWESOME. I’m already looking forward to leftovers tomorrow! (Just bought your cookbook too…can’t wait!)

  • Rose says:

    awesome! feel like i’m at a fine indian restaurant. i made my Rogan Josh seasoning with extra cayenne (TBS+) and we loved it- even me who is not a Great spice fan. after eating this, i am OH so glad i doubled the spice recipe- filled up an old banana pepper jar with it! thank you, thank you, Mel. i love ethnic food, so you are saving my life by helping me eat delicious health foods and not spending money on take-out!

    • Mel says:

      YAY! Glad to know you’re enjoying it — and making extra seasoning is definitely the way to go. I keep a big mason jar of the blend in my spice cabinet at all times… just in case I have an Indian food emergency :-)

  • Looks great! This looks just like something I already make but didn’t realize it was rogan josh. I go through at least a can of coconut milk a week and oh my word, all those my spices, all my favorites!! The best part of this is the mention of Penzey’s…we don’t have one around here (Indiana) but we’re moving to Austin in a few weeks where this plethora of spices store awaits me…heaven!!

    • Mel says:

      Sweet — we’ll be neighbors soon :-)

      Austin has TWO great spice shops: Penzeys and Savory Spice Shop. I like Penzeys more, but they’re both fun.

  • Angela P says:

    Hi Mel. This looks awesome and I want to make it (pronto) but my husband can’t have canned coconut milk because he reacts to the guar gum. Any suggestions on what I could use as a substitute? I know I could make my own coconut but I am entirely too lazy for that today. Or any day after work. Haha.


    • Mel says:

      If you don’t want dairy and can’t use coconut milk, you might have to go the non-creamy route — which I think would still taste good, just different. Replace the coconut milk with beef broth. That way, you can still enjoy the spice blend and the slow-simmered flavor — it will just be more like a Moroccan tagine (stew) than a creamy curry. Let me know if you try it because I think it should be really tasty.

    • Anna says:

      This is a belated response, but for anybody else with guar gum issues, Natural Value now makes an organic/BPA-Free/Guar Gum-free coconut milk. Buyer/chef beware: the coconut taste is much stronger with this product.

  • Jennifer says:

    Hi Mel! I made the pork carnitas last night in the pressure cooker and it was fan-freaking-tastic! And now I’m a little obsessed with pressure cooking… do you know how I can adapt this Rogan Josh recipe for the pressure cooker?

    • Mel says:

      This should work great in the pressure cooker. Brown the meat in the pressure cooker, then add the rest of the ingredients. Cook for 15-20 minutes.

  • Jess D says:

    Oh My Josh this is delish! I printed this recipe several weeks ago but didn’t get around to making it till yesterday, after purchasing 2 lbs of lamb stew meat at our farmers market. This is going to be a staple in our house! So easy to make and so yummy over cali-rice (we served it with sauteed Kale too!). thanks for sharing!

    • Mel says:

      “Oh, my josh” just became my new favorite phrase. That just happened.

      So glad you enjoyed it. It’s a good one to put in weekly rotation because it tastes even better as it sits,and you can make it in big batches and freeze. YAY!

  • Sarah says:

    Oh yes please! This looks and sounds delicious.

  • K says:

    I adapted this to slow cooker & 4 lbs of lamb. (So much leftovers! woo!) Incredible flavor, but I found that it seemed a bit grainy from all the spices. So I came back to reread… and I noticed that your RJ seasoning recipe says 1-2 tbsp/lb meat, and this recipe says 3. That’s kind of a big difference. :) Is this a typo or an old version or did I misinterpret something?

  • Mel says:

    There are two things going on, probably (without being in your kitchen with you, it’s impossible to know exactly where things might have gone astray.

    1. It’s important that the spices come into contact with some fat before meeting liquid. If you just tossed the slices into the slow cooker with the coconut milk and water, that would account for the graininess.

    2. The amounts in the recipe are correct. If you’re using my version of homemade rogan josh seasoning, it’s about 3 T for a pound of meat; if you’re using Penzeys, it’s about 2 T per pound — but that’s based on taste. If you found it overwhelming, cut down on the spices next time.

    • K says:

      Aha! #1 explains it. (no water tho, just coconut milk for the slow cook). Okay, I’ll be less lazy and actually cook the spices first next time. I know it’s traditional, but slow cookers appeal to my laziest instincts. thanks so much for teaching me to cook! :)

      (not overwhelming spice, awesome spice, though I did replace the cayenne with black pepper. My only objection was the graininess. Couldn’t figure out what I did wrong!)

  • Kristin says:

    so… dumb question… which kind of coconut milk do you use? the coconut milk in the frig section of the grocery store or the canned coconut milk?

    • Mel says:

      That’s not a dumb question at all. You ALWAYS want to get coconut milk in a can, not the kind in the carton. And in canned, look for brands that don’t include any additives, with the exception of guar gum which is OK.

      • Kristin says:

        Thank you so much! I’m new to the whole paleo way of life. I haven’t fully taken the plunge yet because I want to make sure I know my stuff before I start. Right now I’m reading the It Starts With Food book. When I finally find a job I am going to buy your book with my first paycheck. I love your blog. Thanks for all that you do!

  • Anna says:

    I love this recipe! As I mention in my Recipe Report (the link to Ede&Anna is in the “comment” above this one), I find that I need to halve the amount of spice mixture called for in Well Fed, and I also add 1-2 Tbsp of tomato paste because all the Rogan Josh recipes I can find online call for some sort of acidic ingredient, usually tomato-based. (I forgot the tomato paste the second time I made this, and the flavor profile didn’t seem as complex to me.)

    When serving the dish, I usually mix in 1/4 cup of golden raisins and then sprinkle some more on top, along with Caramelized Coconut Chips.(OMG, can I take a moment to thank you for these? They are amazing.) I am not generally a raisin fan, but my favorite Middle Eastern beef biryani dish uses golden raisins, and I love the sweetness that these add. (I also love that this dish then covers all my fat, protein, and simple carb needs.)

    Thank you for this dish!

  • Jay says:

    Just discovered this web site, and Paleo for that matter…but let me tell ya, these indian curry reciped you have are a GOD SEND!! Indian is my favorite food and i’ve been clinging on to jarred curry simmer sauces, but they tend to have some unsavory ingredients in them, as delish as they are. Thanks so much and keep up the great work!

  • Mel says:

    Glad you found me — and doubly glad that you like this recipe. I’m working on some new curries for my next cookbook, so should be sharing here soon, too!

  • Michelle says:

    I’m making this for dinner tonight from Well Fed (very excited!), and I just noticed that the prep time clock at the top of the page is shaded for 15 minutes instead of 30. Just thought you might want to fix it for the next printing. Rogan Josh tonight and Shepherd’s Pie tomorrow night–fall is here, and delicious food is pouring out of my kitchen!

  • Mari says:

    Started a d finished the whole 30 all thanks to you and this site!! Have made quite a few of your recipes, all delicious but this is my first post. I love Seth Rogan and I LOVE this dish!! Made it 2 nights ago and it was amazing!! Only thing that surprised me about it was you had no veggies in it. So, I decided to add red peppers, broccoli, carrots and mushrooms… Devine! I served it atop a bed of cauliflower f’ous cous.


  • Rhianon says:

    Oh. Wow….. Wow! My husband says “You’ve outdone yourself!” I made the spice mix and used that.

    I will definitely be keeping this recipe handy! Thank you!

  • Kate says:

    I made this last night and it was wonderful. I’m a huge fan of yours :3 I’m requesting a paleo gulab jamun recipe from you please. Thank you

    • Mel says:

      So… I didn’t know what gulab jamun was, and I looked it up.

      HA! I’d have to be a magician to make those paleo 😉 Even my powerful dark arts can’t make that happen. But it is a fun daydream, no? I feel the same way about anything with phyllo dough.

  • Tracy says:

    First let me say that since I started the Whole30 on January 14 I have offically become a “ blog stalker”. Your recipes are fantastic, and I look forward to buying the cookbook.

    In my quest for any delicious Indian-style recipe I made this one tonight, and while it was incredibly delicious, there was no sauce…it all cooked out when I was ‘braising’ it on the lowest simmer setting on my stove for 1.5 hours (I even burned it a little on the bottom because the liquid was that gone). Could it have something to do with living at high altitude (5000 ft) in Utah? Or did I do something else wrong?

    • Mel says:

      I’m so glad my recipes are helping with your Whole30… yay!

      Without being in your kitchen with you, it’s impossible to know what happened. When braising, you can always add more hot water to keep things from getting too dry. And I’m not sure about the altitude effects — anyone other readers live at altitude?

  • Bill D says:

    Just made this and it was indeed delicious. Thanks!

  • Azinger says:

    Made this last night… love love love it!! The only thing I would change is I’d cut back on the salt a bit. we were short of paprika but went ahead anyhow and it still rocked. This will be a go to dish for sure!

  • melody says:

    i cooked for 45 minutes in the pressure cooker and it was like….buttah…..


  • Marisa says:

    Melissa, I love your blog, I love your cookbook, and I have so far enjoyed everything I have made from both. However —
    We made rogan josh last night, following the well fed recipe to a T – and while delicious – I found it to be SOOOO SPICY!!! I am surprised that no one else thought so here in the comments.
    I’m not even sensitive to spicy food. In fact, I typically put extra spice on everything and love chili peppers, serranos, habaneros, you name it. Do you think I just have exceptionally spicy cayenne pepper in my house? After eating it we thought perhaps there had been a typo – rather than 1/2 tablespoon of cayenne, 1/2 TEASPOON should suffice.

    Any thoughts?

    • Mel says:

      I’ve only heard from one other person that they thought this was too spicy — and we suspected it was their cayenne. I *think* there may be different grades of cayenne. I usually just buy the cheap kind in the bulk dept. of my local grocery store, so that might explain the difference. Sorry it was too hot for you!

  • Eileen says:

    Help! Flavors are wonderful, but mine came out way too liquidy. I did forget to take the lid off for the last 3 minutes. Anything else I could have done wrong to make it so liquidy?

    • Without being in the kitchen with you, I’m no sure… in the future, just simmer uncovered until you get to the thickness you want. When you keep the pan covered, the liquid can’t evaporate, which is great for cooking the meat, but makes the sauce thinner… hence the recommendation to uncover for a while at the end of cooking.

  • Katie says:

    This looks amazing! We aren’t big lamb fans, what cut of beef would you recommend to stand up to the braising? Thanks!

    • Beef will work great, and you can use any of these cuts: chuck, chuck shoulder, chuck roast, chuck-eye roast, top chuck, bottom round roast, bottom eye roast, rump roast, eye round roast, top round, round tip roast, english roast, pot roast, stew meat

  • Katie says:

    Great! Thanks so much…can’t wait to make it!

  • Cheryl says:

    I purchased the Rogan Josh spice from Penzey’s. How much should I use for this recipe?

  • Katie says:

    HAHAHA when I first heard of this term, I immediately thought of Seth Rogen and Josh Groban as well (=Josh Rogan??). I was curious if anybody else had made the same mistake.

  • Megan says:

    I just bought the rogan josh penzy spice, what amount should I use in place of the spice ingredient list you have or any suggestions at all for incorporating into the dish?

  • Sara says:

    I just made this in the Instant Pot tonight and it was awesome and super fast. Little too spicy for my taste but hubby is in heaven.

  • Adam says:

    Oh man, this recipe is not messing around. I’m used to Indian dishes having their spices toned down, but not this one. It just blew my mind and my taste buds. I cannot wait for this to be done braising.
    Great cookbook by the way. I just picked WF#1 off the shelf at a bookstore this morning.

  • Ben says:


    I love this recipe! I’m wondering, though, if I can easily swap in chicken for lamb. I happen to have chicken at home and don’t feel like making the 40min bus/train trip to the butcher shop this evening. What do you think?


  • Lauren Swenson says:

    I live in Utah, where deer are plentiful and hunted seasonally. I have never been a big fan of venison but the meat is lean and free range (ha!) so it’s always a “yes” when friends offer to share their bounty. Oh happy palette tonight, Sistah! I chose a leaner cut because fattier pieces can taste a little game-y, but next time I won’t hold back. This Rogan Josh is having a party in my mouth and I’m guessing even my kiddos would never guess they’re eating Bambi! Keep rocking the spices, Joulwan. This girl loves your recipes.

  • Kelly says:

    I just wanted to add that left over Josh on top of leftover sweet potato is sublime. Be prepared to fend off foreign forks trying to nab some from you….

  • Rhianon says:

    I’m attempting this tonight (I have made it before, but it feels like years ago!) I had to use beef, because my supermarket was out of everything when I went. I also halved the recipe (again, because the supermarket was out of everything). I’m not sure how much of the seasoning to use (I think last time I made a big batch and now I have heaps and it seemed like too much to put into my saucepan) so I just used a tablespoon.

    Attempting to serve it to my 7 year old and 3 year old fussy eaters… wish me luck!

  • Anne says:

    Hello all the way from Australia! I made this tonight and it was so nice and such great flavours :) we’re new to paleo and I just keep coming back to your site :) keep up the great work!

  • Jana says:

    Any changes on timing or whatnot when using beef stew meat?

  • Jana says:

    Also… “Large dutch oven” = 5 qt? 7 qt?

  • Brandi says:

    Hi Melissa! I love all of your recipes. Thanks for giving my family delicious recipes the healthy way.

    I have a question about converting the rogan josh into a simple lamb meatball… How much of the spice blend per lb of meat would you use? I have a toddler who is starting to eat family meals with us and she likes spice but I don’t want to overpower the lamb. Thanks!

    • So glad you like the recipes — thanks for letting me know!

      I’ve never tried this seasoning in meatballs, but if I was going to experiment… start with 1 tablespoon of the seasoning blend per pound of lamb. Pinch off a little bit of meat, cook it, taste it, and see what you think. You might need to add salt (about 1/2 teaspoon per lb of meat) and additional rogan josh seasoning. Let me know how it turns out!

  • Pam says:

    LOVE the Rogan Josh!!! Not a big fan of sweet potatoes, but my sister fried them in coconut oil and topped with the Rogan Josh!!!!!! Oh my…unbelievably fabulous!!! I am hooked and eat it all the time! Thank you!!


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