Reuben's rogan josh, using beef instead of lamb

My husband calls it “beef rogan josh groban”. It is part of a silly (but very entertaining) game that we have been playing for years. You need to try and link famous people’s names and surnames together to form one long chain-name, like Willie Nelson Mandela (Willie Nelson and Nelson Mandela). Or Brian Lara Croft (Brian Lara and Lara Croft). The longer the chain, the better. The longest one we’ve found, is Boy George Michael Jackson Pollock. It really makes for hours of entertainment (remember to consume alcoholic refreshments liberally while thinking of new names).

Therefor, when I started making the beef rogan josh, my husband immediately started calling it “beef rogan josh groban”. Not that beef rogan josh is a famous person, but Josh Groban is, and it’s still funny. Especially if you take into consideration how much my husband loathes poor Josh’s music. Now we cannot help but speak of beef rogan josh groban, as if it was just a normal name for a great curry.

I found this fantastic recipe from Reuben Riffel’s book “Reuben Cooks”. It is actually for a lamb rogan josh, but I substituted mine with beef and it worked 100%. The use of cardamom is just mouthwateringly wonderful, and I also love the fact that he doesn’t use tomatoes. It is meat in curry sauce, straight up. Man food. Got to love it.


  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 5 cm piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 200 ml water
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 500-800 g good quality beef cubes (or lamb shoulder cubes)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 8 green cardamom pods, broken open or crushed
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 t coriander powder
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 3 t paprika
  • 1/2 t cayenne pepper
  • 1 t salt
  • 5-8 tablespoons plain yoghurt (I used double cream)
  • 1/2 t garam masala
  • black sesame seeds and fresh coriander leaves, to garnish (I used parsley)


  1. Blend garlic, ginger and few tablespoons of water in a food processor untill smooth.
  2. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan on high heat. Lightly brown meat cubes in batches on all sides. Set aside in a bowl.
  3. Return pan to low heat. Drop in bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, peppercorns and cloves and stir together for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the onion and fry for 5 min untill lightly browned.
  5. Add the garlic and ginger paste and stir fry for 30 seconds, then add coriander, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt. Stir these in well. The mixture will be fairly dry at this point.
  6. Add the lamb and the juices back into the pan – it should moisten up the dryness.
  7. Slowly add the yoghurt, one spoon at a time, stirring continuously so that each spoonful is properly combined before adding the next.
  8. Cook for about 4 minutes, then add the rest of the water, and stir to combine. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour untill meat is tender and the sauce has reduced to a rich gravy.
  9. Lastly, stir in garam masala. Garnish with black sesame seeds and coriander leaves, and serve with basmati rice.
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  1. this looks perfect for the weather we are having 🙂

    1. I agree Tandy! Winter comfort food deluxe!

  2. Looks delicious! 🙂 How many people would this recipe serve? Also, if I have 1kg of meat, should I just double the rest of the ingredients? Thanks so much for your blog and all your wonderful recipes!

    1. Hi Matri, I would do 1 and a half times the other ingredients for 1kg of meat. Thanks for your comment!

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