Sloppy Jai (Indian Sloppy Joe)

The amazing restaurant Chai Pani in Asheville, NC serves Indian street food.  One of my favorite things to get is their Sloppy Jai. This is an Indian version of a sloppy Joe – made with ground lamb and Indian spices.

I tried to recreate this recipe at home!  It’s not exactly the same, but we feel it is a pretty good rendition.  I added pickled red onion to add a bit of tang and cut through the richness of the lamb.  Adding a little cayenne pepper or replacing the curry powder with Madras curry powder will add a little heat.  I serve these on brioche buns, but any buns will be fine.  This recipe is also super quick – it can be made in under 30 minutes for a great weeknight meal.


Sloppy Jai

  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • ½ tsp Curry Powder
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp powdered ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp white vinegar

Pickled Onion

  • ¾ cup white vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp Sugar
  • Pinch of salt ( I use Kosher)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 whole cloves
  • Pinch of allspice
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 1 large red onion, slice into thinly sliced ring

For serving

  • Plain Yogurt
  • Cilantro (optional)
  • Brioche buns


Pickled Onions

Make these first (if using), and while they cool, make the filling.

  1. In a small non-reactive saucepan add vinegar, sugar, salt, bay leaf, and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Add the onion slices and lower the heat and simmer gently for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. When cool, transfer onions and the liquid into a tightly sealed container.
  • The pickled onions will keep for a month if kept sealed and refrigerated.

Sloppy Jai

  1. Brown the lamb and the onion together, breaking up the lamb until both are cooked.
  2. Add all of the spices, and stir to coat.  Cook for one minute, or until fragrant.
  3. Add the tomato paste, and stir into the mixture.
  4. Add all remaining ingredients, simmer for at least 10 minutes.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Serve on brioche buns.  Top with yogurt, pickled onion and cilantro.

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