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Life in Rural France

Living the French Dream….The Good, The Bad, and The Hilarious

Tasty Lamb Rogan Josh with Kachumber Salad

One of the things you’ll soon learn about living in rural France is that your food options are a little different. Things such as Indian sauces and pastes, which you’d normally find lots of on your supermarket shelves, aren’t so easy to come by.

Jars of Pataks Rogan Josh Paste or Tikka Masala Sauce are few and far between, not to mention at least double the price, if not triple.

You’ll also be hard pressed to find an Indian takeaway, although there is a fantastic Indian restaurant in Angouleme, Jardin de Kashmir, which I can highly recommend.

So if you’re a fan of a good curry like I am then you need to come up with an alternative. And for me that was to make my own pastes.

Now trust me when I say this actually isn’t a hard thing to do. Unlike baking where you have to be extremely precise, this sort of cooking allows you to experiment. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t spend much time in my kitchen as hubby is the chef in our household.

However, Sundays are usually my day to cook. It’s the one day of the week when I have time. No emails to answer, no articles to write and no office to sit in. I actually enjoy the chance to discover new recipes and try challenging myself to make things from scratch.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the amazing things about living in France is the seasonality of the food and how fresh it all is. But one of the downsides is quite often your local supermarket doesn’t stock things that are considered to be out of season.

It was a bit of a dilemma until I discovered a shop called Grand Frais. Without a doubt the most fabulous fruit and vegetable shop you’ve ever come across. You can read all about the virtues of Grand Frais right here >>>>

Suffice it to say, literally anything I need to make my Indian paste or sauce can be found in this shop.

So today I want to share with you my lamb rogan josh slow cooker recipe that is tried and tested and even better has hubby’s seal of approval. There have been many versions of this recipe but I’ve now settled on my final list of ingredients and method.

Remember, this is my version of lamb rogan josh and not completely authentic. But with a tomato base it’s also less fattening than creamier curries such as a korma.

And my favourite part is that once I’ve done the paste, which takes around 20 mins to do if starting from scratch, you pop it all in the slow cooker for 7 hours or so and leave it to do its thing. It smells amazing and tastes divine.

Oh and I should mention that you can turn the heat up or down on this as far as how hot you like your curry. I use one red chilli but you could go with half if you prefer something milder or do two if you like it super hot.


Recipe for Four People

  • 3 tbsp of Sunflower Oil (huile de tournesol)
  • 750kg Diced lamb shoulder. Try to remove any fat if possible. (d’agneau en cubes)
  • 5cm piece of fresh ginger chopped finely (gingembre)
  • 2 brown onions chopped (oignons jaunes)
  • 3 cloves of garlic chopped finely (ail)
  • 400g tin of chickpeas (poussin petits pois)
  • 2 tbsp of tomato puree (purée de tomates)
  • 100g of jarred roasted peppers (poivrons rôtis en pot)
  • Fresh coriander leaves (coriandre) chop up about ½ a bunch
  • 1 fresh red chili (piment rouge)
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns – you’ll toast these (grains de poivre noir)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds – you’ll toast these (graines de coriandre)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds – you’ll toast these (graines de cumin)
  • 1 tbsp paprika (paprika en poudre)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika (paprika fumé)
  • 1 tsp turmeric (curcuma)
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 cinnamon stick optional (bâton de cannelle)
  • Red wine vinegar optional (Vinaigre de vin rouge)
  • 2 tbsp Natural yoghurt optional (fromage blanc)
  • 2 Vine tomatoes optional (tomate de vigne)



Start off by preparing your paste. Take your peppercorns, cumin seeds and coriander seeds and lightly toast them in a pan. No oil is required just toast them till they start to smell good and are going a nice golden colour.

Then pop them into your pestle and mortar and grind them up. You can cheat and add them straight into the food processor but there is something very therapeutic about bashing them up yourself. It also releases the most amazing aroma.

Whilst your seeds are toasting finely chop the garlic and ginger and put both straight into your food processor. Roughly chop your peppers and add them in as well.

Prepare and chop your onions ready to add to the pan later.

Then add the rest of your spices, tomato puree, 2 tbsp of your sunflower oil, coriander and toasted seeds and whizz it all up together until you have a nice paste. Now if it’s looking a little stodgy then add a small amount of red wine vinegar to loosen things up, only a splash or two, don’t over do it. You can always add a touch more oil here too if required.

Now you’ve got your paste ready time to turn your attention to your meat. Add your final tbsp of sunflower oil to your pan and put it on a high heat. Add the lamb to the pan to sear it, remembering to turn it so all sides are done. Once seared, pop the lamb into your slow cooker.

Now add your onions to the pan, a dash more sunflower oil if needed, and soften the onions. Add them to the slow cooker when they’re done.

Finally, stir the paste into the slow cooker ensuring it’s mixed well and all the lamb is covered. Pop in your cinnamon stick, if you’re using it, and the chickpeas then put your slow cooker on low and leave for at least 6 hours checking on it regularly.

If it looks like it needs it add in a splash of water to loosen things up. On the other hand if it looks too watery take the lid off and switch to high and leave for an hour or so. That should help get rid of any excess water.

I usually keep mine on for a good 7 – 8 hours for the perfect curry.

To serve I then stir in the yoghurt, add some fresh coriander on top and quarter 2 tomatoes for the final look. It’s usually accompanied by some rice, naan bread and a Kachumber salad, a traditional Indian salad that is a regular in many Indian households. I think it’s there to help tone down the heat of the curry but it tastes really good anyway.


  • ½ cucumber chopped (concombre)
  • Red onion chopped (oignon rouge)
  • 3-4 tomatoes chopped (vine is good but any tomato is fine) (tomate de vigne)
  • 2 tbsp of fresh coriander finely chopped (coriandre)
  • Juice of 1 lime (citron vert)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint – optional (menthe)
  • Chopped red chilli – optional (piment)

And now it’s your turn. Time to turn up the dial on your culinary skills and join me in the joys of cooking from scratch in rural France.

I’ll leave you with the iconic words from the wonderful Julia Child “bon appetit!”

I’d love you to share your thoughts on the dish and if you’re feeling brave take a happy snap of your meal and tag me on Instagram or Facebook as I’d love to see how it all turned out.

À bientôt et merci beaucoup!

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