Whenever I cook Indian food, I always feel like a tornado has blown through the kitchen. I pride myself in being an organized and clean cook — part of it is my own neuroticism, but part of it is because I really believe in the notion of “outer order, inner calm”. Cleaning as I go helps me focus, stay in the moment, and enjoy the entire process of cooking. But cooking a full Indian meal is a whole different story, and more often than not, my poor kitchen and I feel like we got hit by a truck. I’m sure some of it is because I don’t do it that often (in a classic chicken and egg situation, for the reasons stated above). But it’s also because most Indian recipes are pretty complicated— they typically involve a lot of chopping, a lot of spices, and a lot of steps. All of this is an open invitation for kitchen chaos.
Thankfully, this beef rogan josh is different. The chopping is done in a food processor or blender, which saves a huge amount of time and cleanup. The beef can be marinated anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight, then it's simmered on the stove for a few hours, drizzled with a spiced butter and voilà! Dinner is ready. Best of all, it only uses four spices: cumin, cardamom, coriander, and garam masala, which are all very standard Indian spices that you’ll be sure to use over and over again. If you’re going all out, serve with a basmati rice pilaf and a crisp glass of dry Alsatian riesling.
note: This recipe is traditionally made with lamb, but I always make it with beef. If you prefer lamb, go ahead and use it!
beef rogan josh
serves 8 | recipe slightly adapted from Classic Indian Cooking by Julie Sahni
marinade + beef
4 medium onions, peeled and quartered
2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 1/2 cups plain, full fat yogurt
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted (or 1/3 cup ghee, melted)
3 lbs boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes and trimmed of fat
2 tbsp unsalted butter plus 2 tbsp vegetable oil (or 4 tbsp ghee)
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp cumin seeds, crushed (or 2 tsp ground cumin)
2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp garam masala
1 cup heavy cream
milk or water, if needed
marinade + beef
Put all of the ingredients of the marinade except the butter (or ghee, if using) into a blender or food processor, and run the machine until the ingredients are finely pureed.
Place the beef in a large bowl and pour the marinade and melted butter (or ghee, if using) over it. Mix thoroughly to coat the meat pieces with the marinade. Cover and let the meat marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, or as long as overnight in the refrigerator. (Remove from the refrigerator about 30 minutes before you are ready to cook the meat.)
Transfer the meat, along with the marinade, to a heavy bottomed pan (she recommends one with a non-stick surface, but I prefer to use a Dutch oven). Place the pan over medium-low heat, and gently bring the contents to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until the beef is very tender. The beef is done when a fork or thin skewer pieces it without any resistance (about 2 1/2- 3 hours, depending on the heat, pan type, and meat quality). Stir frequently to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
Heat 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp vegetable oil (or 4 tbsp ghee, if using instead) in a small frying pan over high heat. When it is very hot, add garlic, and stirring rapidly, fry for 15 seconds. Immediately add cumin, cardamom, and garam masala. As soon as the spices begin to sizzle and release their fragrance (about 3-5 seconds), turn off heat and pour the perfumed butter, along with the spices, over the meat. Add cream, and stir to distribute the ingredients.
notes on the beef rogan josh:
keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, and freezes well.
like all Indian food, the flavor of this beef rogan josh improves over time. For the deepest flavor, Julie recommends making it the day before you plan on serving it.
to reheat, simmer gently over low heat until warmed through, and taste for salt and pepper.
sometimes, too much moisture may evaporate during cooking causing the butter to separate from the sauce. If this happens, add milk or water, a tablespoon at a time, until the fat is incorporated back into the sauce. Don’t degrease, as the fragrant spiced butter is one of the main sources of flavor for this dish.