Paleo Rogan Josh

Posted On: November 17, 2013

We are so thrilled to bring you a guest post by one of our favorite bloggers, cook book author and fellow Austinite Melissa Joulwan. Melissa is “on a mission to be a superfit, well-fed, dressed-to-kill, glossy-haired, rock-n-roll, tart-tongued detective,” and we’re so excited to share one of her unique recipes from her recently released cookbook Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat. For more info about Melissa, check out the bottom of this post for links! 

Paleo Rogan Josh

I like rules, and I love following recipes — mostly because I feel virtuous when I obey them and because occasionally breaking out of them is delicious fun. Which partially explains why I enjoy following the paleo diet.

Sometimes called the primal or caveman diet, paleo eating is based on the idea that we feel our best when we mimic the nutrition of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. It sounds a little groovy or like something from science fiction, but what it boils down to for everyday meals is this: avoid grains — especially the ones that contain gluten — dairy, legumes, and excess sugar. These foods, while often tasty, can make most people feel less than their best. That’s a lot of favorite comfort foods on the “no” list, right?

That’s why it’s important to focus on the “yes” list instead. Think of every kind of meat, seafood, vegetable, and fruit you can. Go on! Imagine your list… keep going. Now imagine yummy fat sources like coconuts and avocados and olives. That’s a lot of wonderful food! And those are the foods that make up the paleo diet.

I’ve been eating this way for five years. I don’t think I would have been able to stick with it if I hadn’t learned how to cook food that’s every bit as delicious as “regular” food. Exotic, fragrant spices are a big part of my cooking. Some cubes of lamb and a can of coconut milk can become a “make it again” dinner with the right dusting of seasonings — and it can take you on an exotic adventure around the world.

Rogan Josh

Rogan Josh is a curry dish from Kashmir, a region tucked among the borders of India, Pakistan, and China, all of which can be tasted in its fragrant blend of spices. I’d never eaten Rogan Josh before I bought the seasoning based solely on its enticing aroma, and now I’m not sure how I lived without it. Different cooks embellish their spice blends in different ways. This recipe is the one I devised in my kitchen in Austin, Texas, and it’d included in my cookbook Well Fed: More Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat. This curry is rich and creamy with plenty of depth, but not too much heat.


Photo by David Humphreys


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 to show brown spots.

Add the Rogan Josh spice blend (all of it!) 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.

Note: You can also make this with beef — and it’s delicious served on top of a bed of cauliflower rice. Just pulse a head of raw cauliflower in a food processor until it’s the texture of rice, then sauté in a little melted coconut oil until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.

Photo by David Humphreys


About The Author

Melissa Joulwan is the author of the cookbooks Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat and Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat, as well as the blog The Clothes Make The Girl ( and the book Living Paleo For Dummies. Her favorite book is Jane Eyre, and she loves meditating just as much as throwing around some heavy barbells.



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