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Kashmiri Elk Curry | Rogan Josh

A fusion of Moroccan meatballs made from ground elk and a classic North Indian mild curry made with yogurt, tomato paste, ginger, garlic and traditional Indian spices.

Elk meatballs sautéing in a pan.

Every October & November in Utah, troves of people head to the mountains.  It’s a family ritual for some, a means to feed themselves for others.

Hunting is a BIG deal in Utah.  I don’t hunt, yet I have been gifted deer and elk since I moved here.  There is deer jerky and ground elk in my freezer right now.  Having access to this kind of food you can’t get in any grocery store in the U.S. has been a real blessing to me.  I love culinary challenges and game meat has become my ‘challenge ingredient’ in my food-filled head.

While I enjoy preparing game meat to highlight its unique characteristics (think burgers and meatloaf), I also enjoy preparing unusual meals out of the meat for all of those hunters and spouses of hunters in my life that run out of ideas for their freezer full of goodness.  I came across a beautiful picture of a North Indian Curry in one of my Indian cookbooks.  The sauce looked thick and rich and really just grabbed my attention begging me to make it now!  I later found out this type of curry is called Rogan Josh.  Challenge accepted!

I had ground elk in my freezer so I made a Moroccan style meatball inspired by a Moroccan cookbook but omitted the Ras al Hanout since I would be serving this in a rich sauce.  Do you do this?  Do you mash-up recipes?  I do when I ‘cook from the pantry’ in order to use up ingredients that need to move on.

What is Rogan Josh?

Todays traditional Rogan Josh is a relic from the Persian influence on Kashmir.  The Persian Empire was immense in size.  It extended from Northern India to Greece and North Africa, encompassing everything in between.  They were amazing at winning wars, gaining territory and the culinary arts.  The Persians left behind culinary traditions and recipes that still exist today.  Think about it, I don’t even have any of my grandmothers recipes!

Rogan Josh, as most of Western civilization knows this dish, is also called Roghan Josh and Rogan Ghost.

In the Persian language of Urdu, Roughan means clarified butter, jus means stew and gose means meat.  It is thought that this dish is an amalgam of these three words.

Clarifying butter is a way to separate the milk solids from the fat in butter, allowing this to be stored at room temperature with a much longer shelf life than butter.  It has a higher smoke point and nice taste.  This had become, and still is in many places, the ‘oil’ of the Middle East.  Clarified butter is easy to make but I didn’t have any so I used canola cooking oil.

Kashmiri pepper is traditionally used in Kashmir.  You can either find this in an Indian grocery store or use something similar like a mixture of paprika and cayenne like I did.  You can really control the heat by adjusting the amount of cayenne you add.

What meat can you use for Rogan Josh?

Originally lamb or mutton was used.  This was the main meat at the time and fit into most cultures dietary restrictions.  Today, Rogan Josh is made with chicken, beef, lamb, fish and now elk.  You could use pork but this may be taboo for some cultures.

What spices are used in Rogan Josh?

The spices used in Rogan Josh are mostly aromatic and not hot spices.  This dish is not traditionally hot, in fact Rogan Josh is one of the mildest curries.

Spices used in Rogan Josh include:

  • cloves
  • bay leaves
  • cardamom
  • cinnamon
  • ginger
  • paprika
  • cumin
  • coriander
  • cayenne
  • garlic

More Curry Recipes:

Serve your curries with Apricot Chutney for an easy way to punch up your Indian dishes:)

CONFUSED ABOUT THE DIFFERENT CHILI POWDERS? I’ve got the details in my article What is Chili Powder?

How to thicken Rogan Josh?

Traditionally a slurry of flour and water is added to the pot at the beginning of the simmering stage.  In the U.S. a corn starch slurry is common.  I have a years supply of tapioca flour in my pantry so I make a slurry of tapioca and water.  Be sure to add this to the beginning of the simmering  in order to cook out the ‘rawness’ of the thickener so that you can’t taste it when the meal is finished simmering.

Do you have a favorite thickener?  If so, please share in the comments below so that all of the Fusion Craftiness Community may benefit from your experiences.  Did you make this recipe?  Snap a pic and share on Instagram with #FusionCraftiness so we can all see:)

Bon Appetit y’all!

Chopped onions in a food processor.
Diced onions in a food processor.
The curry ingredients in a food processor.
The curry sauce blended in a food processor.
The meatball ingredients in a bowl, ready for mixing.
Meatballs rolled out into one inch balls.
Whole spices in a grinder.
Elk meatballs sautéing in a pan with spices.
The rest of the ingredients simmering in a pot.
A bowl of elk curry.

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Kashmiri Elk Curry, also known as Rogan Josh is a rich, spicy but not hot curry from North India. This version is made from elk for all the hunters out there that need a good recipe. Impress your friends with this easy recipe and make this tonight!

Kashmiri Elk Curry | Rogan Josh

Yield: 5
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

A fusion of Moroccan meatballs made from ground elk and a classic North Indian mild curry made with yogurt, tomato paste, ginger, garlic and traditional Indian spices.



  • 1 lb ground elk (may substitute venison or lamb)
  • 1 onion diced, your choice of red, yellow or white
  • 1-2 Tbs fresh mint, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup of flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • oil (I ended up using about 1/2 cup of canola oil)


  • 1 large onion (your choice), quartered
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 Tbs tomato paste
  • 1 Tbs minced ginger
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 cups of cold water, divided
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs garam masala
  • 2 Tbs paprika
  • 1 Tbs ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbs ground fennel seed
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 Tbs flour, cornstarch or tapioca starch
  • 1/2 tsp sumac (may use fresh lime juice instead but if so, add lime juice when serving)


  • limes
  • cilantro or parsley


  1. Make meatballs by mixing meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl with both hands until mixed well.  Form 1 inch meatballs and set aside.
  2. In a dutch oven or large sauce pan, heat enough oil to cover the bottom well over medium heat.  Add meatballs and brown on each side.
  3. While meatballs are cooking, add quartered onion to a food processor and pulse 5-10 times until the onion is diced.  Add next four ingredients, 1 cup of the water and the salt.  Pulse until blended well.  Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, add the next six spices, set aside.  I use mostly whole spices and ground them in my spice grinder, also known as a coffee grinder.  Whole spices last longer without going stale.
  5. When the meatballs are browned, push to the side of the pan and add the spices in the middle and stir.  If the spices are dry, add more oil.  Heating the spices in the oil 'blooms' them and releases their flavor and oils.  After heating for about a minute while stirring constantly, add the remaining water, bay leaves and sumac and contents of the food processor.
  6. Stir your flour or starch in a small bowl with a little cold water until well mixed without clumps.  Add this to the pot.  Stir gently and gently simmer over med-low heat for 1 hour uncovered.
  7. Serve over rice or with flatbread such as Naan or Parathas.  Garnish as desired.


  • Using cold water drops the temperature of the pot so when adding the slurry made in the food processor, the yogurt won't separate as much.  Some separation can be expected.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 5 Serving Size: 2 cups
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 426Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 73mgSodium: 497mgCarbohydrates: 48gFiber: 5gSugar: 7gProtein: 30g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Elaine @ Dishes Delish

Friday 17th of November 2017

Yummy! That looks so delicious! I love all game animals! I was one of the few to have some elk at a family picnic! This looks fabulous, though i will probably have to substitute lamb.


Friday 17th of November 2017

Lamb would be a good and authentic choice, that's how the dish probably started.

David @ Cooking Chat

Wednesday 15th of November 2017

what a creative way to meet the challenge of preparing elk! Sounds tasty, I have never tried elk before.


Thursday 16th of November 2017

It reminds me of venison or grass feed beef. Stronger taste but in a good way. It is very lean so whatever you make with it, add some fat to it.

Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry

Wednesday 15th of November 2017

I love a Rogan Josh curry - yours looks incredible! I've never tried elk but I would love to one day.


Thursday 16th of November 2017

I wish I had discovered Rogan Josh earlier:)

Luci's Morsels

Tuesday 14th of November 2017

Mmmm! This looks great! I bet it smells delicious too!

Traci @ The Kitchen Girl

Tuesday 14th of November 2017

Omgosh...I'm in love with everything about this recipe and story. So very cool (except for the part where you don't have your grandmother's recipes). But, love the step by step and final outcome...looks so delish! Thanks for sharing!


Thursday 16th of November 2017

Thanks Traci and good luck on your soup adventures:) Save your family's recipes! They are precious.

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