Mutton Rogan Josh

You can get all the info that you need on Mutton Rogan Josh here but eating it, is a whole different experience. I don't think I can even call it eating, it has to be savouring- you will savour each bite as you drown your senses in this fragrant and rich spicy Lamb specialty from the Kashmir region of India. 

Rogan Josh, for the uninitiated, is lamb in hot red oil rich gravy. 

The typical Rogan josh gravy doesn't use the Indian mirepoix of onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes for the gravy base. 

Yes! No tomatoes in a red coloured Indian lamb curry and yet it tastes magical! 

There's an old saying in India that if you want to see heaven on earth, it is Kashmir. And I tell you, that title isn't that easily bestowed upon. Kashmir is beautiful, as are the people there and the food- just magnificent. 

Words simply cannot do justice to this favoured delectable rich aromatic Rogan Josh. Without further ado, I present to you Ki's Rogan Josh

Notes: Firstly, you have to be patient while making Indian curries. The rich flavour comes from the time and love poured into the dish along with the wondrous ingredients. 

Secondly, there are many ways of preparing the Rogan Josh. Funnily enough they all claim to be the 'authentic' version. I don't claim that this version is The Authentic One. But yes, I have tried to be as close to the recipe as possible. Like in the authentic version, they do not use Coriander leaves, but I did. Also, they use an ingredient called Ratanjot that imparts the deep red colour to the dish. But since I wasn't able to find it, I skipped it. 

Thirdly, you can chose to marinate the meat overnight or just for 30 mins prior to cooking it. In my opinion, whenever you are cooking an Indian meat dish, the taste and the texture really does vary and the best results are achieved if you do marinate the meat overnight or for 6-8 hrs prior to cooking. 

Most importantly, it is very easy to make, just takes some effort. So plan ahead and make sure to make this delicious recipe that WILL tantalise your senses every time you hear its name. 

Onto the recipe now

Serves: 6

Time taken: 3 hours + marination time

Complexity: ***

You'll need

1 kg red onions
1 kg lamb meat (choose your favourite bits with bones, ofcourse)
2 cups thick strained plain yoghurt
half cup coriander leaves (optional)
1" pc of ginger, grated
1+1 tsp of asafoetida
1+1 tsp of red Kashmiri red chili powder/ paprika
2 tbsp warm milk
1 generous pinch of original saffron
4-5 cups of water
2 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp dry ginger powder
2 tbsp fennel powder
4-5 tbsp mustard oil
A whole lotta love

Dry spices

3 dry whole red chilies
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick about 4" long
10-12 black peppercorns
3-4 cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
2-3 dried mace
3-4 green cardamoms
2-3 black cardamoms


First and foremost, get your meat chopped into manageable pieces by your butcher. Bring it home and rinse it thoroughly. Pat it dry so its ready for the marination. 

Place the meat in a large bowl. Add the thick plain yoghurt to it. 

 Add the chopped coriander leaves. While chopping the coriander, don't just use the leaves. Use the majority of the stem as well. Thats what has the maximum flavour. 

Next add the grated ginger

Then comes the spicy bit. Add in 1 tsp of Kashmiri red chili. Now the beauty of the Kashmiri red chili powder is that though it is not that spicy, it imparts a beautiful reddish hue to the dish. If you feel a little bolder, like I did, add in 1 tsp of Kashmiri red chili and 1 tsp of cayenne chili powder. 

The last ingredient for marination is 1 tsp asafoetida powder. Yes that much because instead of the usual garlic, the Kashmiris use asafoetida for a flavoursome gravy. 

All the ingredients in and now toss it so each piece is well coated. The curd does its magic and tenderizes the meat slowly, so when you cook it, the meat literally will melt in your mouth. 

Cover it and keep it in the fridge overnight. 

Come next morning, bring the meat out of the fridge and let it sit out for 10 mins or so while you chop your onions. Cut them into half moons and slice them thinly 

Heat the mustard oil in the deep pan. It is absolutely gorgeous- the yellowness of the mustard oil and the pungent aroma. 

On the medium flame, give it a minute or two till the oil starts to shimmer. Don't get it too hot or smoking. Add in the second 1 tsp of asafoetida in it. In the olden days, the chefs used to keep heating the mustard oil and keep adding asafoetida to it over n over before adding in anything else. 

Add the sliced onions into the heating oil and stir them a bit.

Take the cardamom pods and bruise them in a mortar- pestle or just give them a thwack with the bottom of a glass. 

Add this to the browning onions. Keep the flame on medium high. 

You can choose the order of adding the spices in but you have to add bayleaves

Cinnamon stick, broken into smallish pieces

Then the cloves,

And the peppercorns

The whole red chilies,

Don't forget to keep stirring in between, we want the onions to golden evenly. Next comes the nutmeg powder. I usually grate about 3/4th of a nutmeg directly into the pan on the onions. 

Lastly add mace. 

See how the onions are softening and turning paler in colour. 

Stir it again till the oil begins to separate from the onions and the onions are an even brownish golden colour.

Now we need to add in the fennel powder. 

Mix it in and let it cook for another 10 mins or so till the onions are nicely almost browned. 

Take the marinated meat and transfer it in the pan on the bed of the sauteing onions. 

Mix it in with the onions. Time to add in the dry ginger powder. 

The onions will give the gravy a brownish hue. Add chicken stock or water whatever you have on hand and let it simmer for atleast 30 mins. 

You see how the meat is almost submerged in the stock/ water.

In a very small bowl, take warm milk (about 20 secs in the microwave) and add the generous pinch of saffron to it. 

Leave it in for 10-20 secs till the saffron starts to release its beautiful colour in the milk and turns the milk like this...

Pour this mix into the simmering meat curry. 

Stir it in and cover the pot leaving it slightly uncovered from one edge. Let the gravy simmer for almost an hour. By this time the gravy would have reduced slightly and the meat thoroughly cooked. 

Finally add in the salt, the rest of the Kashmiri red chili powder and the turmeric powder. Don't forget your whole lotta love. Thats the final flourish. 

Uncover the pan and let it simmer for another 45 mins or so till the gravy has reduced to half. Taste it and adjust the seasoning. I did add some more chili powder to it and adjust the salt. 

See how beautiful it looks. The gravy has reduced considerably. Rogan Josh is enjoyed when it is in less gravy. The spices almost sticking to and coating the lamb meat. But if you make a little gravy, you can serve this with Basmati rice flavoured with star anise and cumin. Definitely a heavenly combination. 

See how it the oil has come over the thick gravy giving it a layer of sheen. You can also strain the gravy to smoothen it out and get rid of the whole spices but thats a big no-no for me. 

Serve with rice or Naan bread or even a Laccha Paratha and Indulge! :) 


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