Pot Roast with Indian Spices

Pot Roast with Indian Spices
There’s a lot of ahistorical nonsense going on right now in India about the eating of beef (see here for the latest outrage and here for some context) and so you can consider this a political recipe.

It represents a melding of American/European technique with Indian flavours. Though Indians (and other South Asians) do roast and braise larger cuts of meat, there is nothing traditional about this recipe: it is improvised by me. It takes the usual American approach to beef roasts—season the meat, sear it and then braise it with liquid and aromatics in an oven or on the stove—and merely switches the seasoning and aromatics. It might look like fusion but if I were to cut the beef into cubes and do everything else more or less the same way it would look like a very unremarkable “curry”. Anyway, you can do this with larger cuts of lamb and mutton (goat) too, though you might have to adjust the cooking time. And you could also do it in the slow cooker as well, though in that case you might need to use less liquid.


  • Spices for Marinade

    Powdered Spices for the Marinade

    Chuck roast, 3 lbs (a little heavier if bone-in).

  • For the marinade, the following ground to a fine powder plus enough vinegar to make a thick paste: 1 tspn cumin seeds, 1/2 tspn black peppercorns, 1 tblspn coriander seeds, 1 tspn hot chilli powder, 1 large piece cinnamon, salt.
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thickly.
  • 1 inch knob ginger, grated.
  • 1-1.5 cups tomato, chopped.
  • The following ground coarsely: 1 tspn coriander seeds; 1/2 tspn cumin seeds; 1/2 tspn hot chilli powder.
  • A pinch of sugar.
  • 3 large carrots, cut into three long pieces each.
  • 3/4 cup water.
  • Oil


  1. Roast Coated with the Marinade

    Roast Coated with the Marinade

    Make the marinade with the first set of ground spices and vinegar, coat the roast with it on all sides and bung in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours (I left it in there for two days). Depending on how long it’s been in there, bring the meat out of the refrigerator one to two hours before you cook it.

  2. Preheat the oven to 275ºF.
  3. In a large skillet heat a couple of tblspns of oil and sear the roast on all sides (the oil should be hot enough that the roast sizzles when you put it in). Use tongs to hold it up to sear the narrower surfaces. 1-2 minutes per side should be sufficient if you’ve got the pan hot enough. Keep the seared roast aside on a plate.
  4. Put the onions and after a minute the ginger in the skillet you seared the roast in (remove any overly charred bits of marinade from the oil first) and saute over medium-high heat till the onions have begun to soften.
  5. Add the second mix of powdered spices and saute for another minute.
  6. Searing the Roast

    Searing the Roast

    Add the tomatoes, a pinch of salt, sugar and any remaining marinade and let the tomatoes cook down, stirring occasionally.

  7. Add the water and bring it to a high simmer.
  8. Add the contents of the skillet to your roasting pan (I use a cast iron Dutch oven) and put the roast on top. Arrange the carrots around the roast, cover the pan and place in the oven.
  9. After about 20 minutes reduce the temperature of the oven to 225ºF and roast till the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Depending on oven and meat this will probably take anywhere between 3 and 4 hours.
  10. When done remove the roast to a large platter, cut it into coarse chunks (or pull it apart completely if you prefer). Arrange the carrots around the meat and pour the sauce over. Serve with steamed rice or chapatis/parathas along with some chholar dal and some greens.


  1. Feel free to reduce the amount of red chilli powder if you don’t want the end result to be too hot. The important thing here is the coriander and cumin (and the higher proportion of coriander to cumin).
  2. This is even better after the cooked, chunked meat has sat in the sauce for a day or two.
  3. You can certainly add some potato along with the carrots, but you might want to add them to pot halfway through the roasting so they don’t disintegrate. As for the carrots, if you use very large thick carrots you won’t have that problem.
Exiting the Oven

Exiting the Oven

Ready to Eat

Ready to Eat

5 thoughts on “Pot Roast with Indian Spices

    • 275º. How the hell did that drop out of the recipe? Must have been when I was wrestling with getting the images to align. Anyway, I’m glad to see at least one person’s read the recipe carefully! Now to check and make sure nothing else got edited out by mistake.


  1. Delicious. Made it today with a smaller roast (2.5 lbs or so), with few adjustments needed. I added half a dozen medium-sized waxy potatoes cut into halves and quarters for the last 1.5 hours or so, and they were perfect. Carrots could have been added later, too, though ours were, regrettably, merely average in size. Truly huge carrots like you suggest would have been just right. Served it with brown rice, roasted acorn squash, and simply steamed broccoli for a family dinner. We are looking forward to the leftovers.


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