Paleo Rogan Josh (a Well Fed recipe)

From Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat, p. 85 (loc. 1842 on the ebook). This recipe can also be found at on her site,

This is a thick, hearty beef stew with a Middle Eastern flair.  It can be cooked on the stovetop or in a crockpot (though the sauce turns out best if it is finished on the stove).

The Recipe


1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
3/4 tsp. powdered ginger
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tsp ground cumin
4 tsp ground coriander

1 teaspoon coconut oil or olive oil
1 lb. lamb or beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
salt & pepper
1/4 c. tomato paste, optional (Anna’s addition; strongly recommended) 


“1. Sprinkle meat generously with salt & pepper. Toss to coat.

2. Heat oil in a sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add meat and brown well 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 around.

3. When the meat is brown, add the chopped onion and cook until the onions begin to soften and get little brown spots.

4. Add [1-2 Tbsp per pound of meat*] of the rogan josh seasoning 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 a bit. [*from]  Stir in the tomato paste.

5. Add the coconut milk and water to the pan. Mix well, turn the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Let the meat braise in the coconut milk for 1-2 hours.

6. When time’s up, remove the lid and let the sauce thicken for 2-3 minutes.”

Anna’s Report

Verdict:  The beef was wonderfully tender, and I loved the flavors of the dish.  That said, it was waaay too spicy.  (I think I might have misread everything that followed paprika as “tbsp” instead of “tsp.”)  My husband loved this to bits, and I was definitely happy to have it for dinner the next night, but next time I make sure I have the right balance of spices and, if necessary, will cut back on the chili powder.

Adjustments to the recipe:

  • I used beef stew meat instead of lamb
  • I added 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, since I’d seen a review of this recipe that said it needed something acidic, and all the Rogan Josh recipes I could find online include tomato puree or paste or something. (Update: I forgot the tomato paste the second time I made this, and I definitely missed it.  I think it helps round out the flavors.
  • I took the cover off after an hour, and simmered it uncovered for approximately 40 minutes.  This gave the sauce a nice texture
  • I used “Paprika,” and I suspect that sweet paprika would have made the dish lighter in both color and flavor. (Also, getting the spice mix right.)
  • Right before serving, I added golden raisins and Caramelized Coconut Chips (1 cup coconut flakes browned on the stove for ~3 minutes, then tossed with a mixture of 1/4 tsp salt & 1/4 cinnamon – yum!! see location 3059 in the ebook)

Next time:

  • I will cut the chili powder and paprika (maybe sweet paprika).  (Update: I cut back slightly on the chili and paprika, but not by much.  I used only half of the spice mix, and it was still extremely spicy.  The website says to use 2 Tbsp of Rogan Josh spice mix, so next time I’ll try that.)
  • I would definitely recommend using the coconut.  If the sweet paprika lightens the dish, the raisins might not be necessary, but I suspect they’d still taste good (and they’d help take care of the carb component of the meal)
  • I will try this in the crock pot, as it is essentially a Middle Eastern pot roast and I suspect the meat will get very tender indeed. (Update: I tried this in the crockpot, and I have two notes.  First, be sure to use brisket, not chuck roast.  Second, near the end of cooking, most of the sauce needs to be removed to a sauce pan and simmered on the stove for 30-40 minutes to thicken.)

Ede’s Report:

Verdict:  This dish was sort of a “meh” to me.  I liked it…sort of.  I did not, however, make as many changes as Anna did, so I may try it again with those additions.

Alterations to the recipe:

  • Like Anna, I used beef stew meat instead of lamb.  Lamb tastes like crying fluffly baby lambs to me. Yick and sad.
  • I cut down on the chili powder..and reading Anna’s complaint about the spiciness, I’m glad I did.

Next time:  Try it in the crock pot, per Anna’s recommendation, and add the other items she added-tomato paste and coconut (but no raisins..blech)


One thought on “Paleo Rogan Josh (a Well Fed recipe)

  1. You might want to give the raisins a shot, if you can find golden raisins. I kindof hate regular raisins, a lot. Golden raisins are a lot plumper with a brighter flavor. I would never eat golden raisins on their own, but they are part of my favorite restaurant dish EVER (a beef biryani to die for), so I tried it with the beef, and really liked it.

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