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Rogan Josh From Scratch

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Make BIR rogan josh from scratch without base sauce.

Many people want to make curry house style curries but can’t be fussed with preparing the ‘essential’ base sauce. That smooth onion based sauce is used at curry houses around the UK to prepare everything from the mildest korma to the spiciest phaal. Here I would like to show you how you can make top quality, curry house style lamb rogan josh from scratch without the need to make a base sauce first.

You will also find links to many popular side dishes to enjoy your rogan josh with. 

lamb rogan josh from scratch

Lamb rogan josh from scratch without the need of a base curry sauce.

What do you serve rogan josh with?

If you’d like to make this curry into a feast, you’ve come to the right place. You could just go for a side of Basmati rice or mushroom fried rice.

If you’d like to make naans, why not try one of these?  Instant naans, Peshwari naans, stove top naans, keema naans, garlic naans, tandoor naans (if you have a tandoor oven), or if you’re cooking outdoors, karahi naans.

You might also like to serve this rogan josh with easy tarka dal or slowly cooked dal makhani.

Want to start your rogan josh meal off with a bang? How about fried shop bought poppadoms or if you’re feeling ambitious, make your own poppadoms from scratch and serve them with coriander chutney, red onion chutney, and/or tamarind chutney.

Which cut of meat?

I have used lamb leg meat for this recipe as it cooks faster than shoulder. If you use shoulder, it will take longer to become tender but the longer cooking will also produce a richer stock.

The idea here is to sear and then simmer the meat first and use the stock it produces in the curry for extra flavour. 

Do I have to use lamb?

Absolutely not. Just like when you go to a curry house, you can add the protein of your choice. Add chicken tikka, paneer, whatever you like. In fact, if using precooked chicken tikka, lamb tikka or paneer, you will be able to cook this quick rogan josh from scratch even quicker!

If using pre-cooked tandoori chicken, paneer or seafood, you could add water instead of the lamb stock mentioned above. That or use chicken stock or another homemade stock of your choice.

Want to try this rogan josh exactly as it’s made at curry houses?

No problem. Here’s a good and authentic British Indian restaurant (BIR) recipe for you.

The above linked recipe and many other curry house classics are in my cookbook ‘The Curry Guy Bible’.


Step by step photographs…

Ingredients for rogan josh from scratch

Always get your ingredients together before starting. It’s a lot easier.

Cooking lamb in pan

Sear the lamb and then add the spices, onion and water.

Simmering lamb in stock

Bring to a simmer and continue cooking until the meat is tender. Strain and retain the meat and stock.

Frying onions in pan

Now fry the onions in the oil over a medium high heat.

A word about those onions…

When a curry house base sauce is made, the onions are simmered in water. The onions in that base sauce are the same for every curry.

Here I have fried them until golden brown. This is perfect for a rich curry like rogan josh. If you are frying onions for a lighter curry such as korma, you could fry the onions for a shorter time until soft and translucent but not yet browned. This is one way of achieving different tasting sauces for different curries. 

Adding garlic and ginger, spices and cashews

Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and fry for 30 seconds. Then add the ground spices and cashews and stir them in.

Adding chopped tomatoes and stock to the pan

Add the chopped tomatoes and about 125ml (1/2 cup) of the stock from the lamb or water. Allow to cool slightly. 

Blending rogan josh stock

Blend the cooled sauce until smooth.

Adding blended sauce to pan.

Pour the sauce back in the pan. It will be too thick so add about 250ml (1 cup) lamb stock or water.

Adding lamb to the pan

Add the meat to the sauce. If the sauce is too thick, add more stock. if too thin, just cook it down.

Adding tomatoes to the sauce

Add the quartered tomatoes. Remember to keep topping up the sauce with stock if too thick.

Adding yoghurt to the sauce.

Cook the sauce for a while. The longer you simmer it, the deeper red it will become. Stir in the yoghurt.

Garnishing the curry with coriander (cilantro) and red onion

Season with salt to taste and serve garnished with coriander (cilantro) and chopped red onion.

If you like this recipe for rogan josh from scratch, try some of these you can make without base sauce…

Chicken Chasni from Scratch

Yield: 4

Rogan Josh From Scratch

rogan josh from scratch
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • FOR THE MEAT (optional)
  • 700g (24 oz) lamb leg meat, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 1 x 2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 3 green cardamom pods, bruised
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 750ml (3 cups) water
  • 4 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 2 1/2 tbsp smoked or unsmoked picante paprika
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 ½ tbsp Madras curry powder
  • ½ tsp each of ground cumin and ground coriander
  • 8 cashews
  • 200g (7 oz) tinned (canned) chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 tbsp plain natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 tsp garam masala,
  • 3 tbsp fresh coriander (cilantro) finely chopped
  • Chopped red onion to garnish


  1. To cook the meat, brown it in a large frying pan or karahi in the oil over medium high heat. This should only take a couple of minutes. Stir in the spices and quartered onion and then cover with 750ml (3 cups water).
  2. Allow to simmer until the meat is good and tender. This should take about 20 minutes but it’s ready when it’s tender so don’t rush this.
  3. When cooked to your liking, pour this through a sieve into a bowl, retaining the meat and stock but discarding the onion pieces. Keep warm.
  4. Now heat the oil in a large frying pan or karahi. When visibly hot add the chopped onions and fry for about 7 minutes or until soft and just beginning to brown.
  5. Add the garlic and ginger paste and fry for a further 30 seconds and then add the paprika, chilli powder, ground cumin and coriander and the cashew. Stir this into the onion mixture to coat and then stir in the chopped tomatoes.
  6. Pour in 125ml (1/2 cup) of the stock from cooking the lamb or water and allow to cool slightly.
  7. Now blend this sauce until smooth. Pour it all back into the pan over a medium high heat and bring to a simmer. It will look too thick at this point so stir in about 250ml (1 cup) of lamb stock or water.
  8. Watch it. If the sauce is looking to saucy, cook it down. If too dry, add more water or stock. Stir in the cooked lamb and heat through.
  9. To finish, stir the yoghurt one tablespoon at a time into the sauce. Sprinkle in the kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves) by rubbing them between your fingers.
  10. Dust the top with garam masala. Season with salt to taste and garnish with chopped coriander (cilantro) and chopped red onions to serve.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 266Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 261mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 6gSugar: 9gProtein: 20g

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I hope you enjoy making and eating this recipe for rogan josh from scratch. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you. 

Adrian M

Sunday 30th of April 2023

Cooked the sauce tonight, with some chicken tikka - it was well received by everyone! Thanks Dan.

The written 10 Step instructions at the bottom don't mention the fresh tomatoes or curry powder, just refer to the pics above if you're not sure when to add them.

Dan Toombs

Thursday 4th of May 2023

Great to hear. Thanks very much. Dan


Saturday 25th of March 2023

Dan this was amazing, cooked to perfection from scratch, better than takeaway. cant wait till the new book comes out.

Dan Toombs

Sunday 2nd of April 2023

Thanks very much for letting me know. I’m glad you enjoyed it. Dan

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