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Rogan Josh


This recipe for Rogan Josh comes from India and was commissioned to compliment the earlier published article entitled Indian Cooking . . . how did it become so popular?

Rogan Josh is an aromatic lamb dish cooked in moderate heat, mostly eaten in Kashmir, the extreme north part of India.

There are two different theories about the origin of rogan josh. As per one theory it originated in Persia and was brought to Kashmir by Mogul Emperors who made Kashmir their winter capital. In the Persian language rogan means oil or clarified butter and josh means heat, boiling or passion. That means food cooked in intense heat with oil. In the second theory, it originated from Kashmir and in Kashmiri language rogan means red and josh means moderate heat, giving its meaning red meat cooked in moderate heat.

Rogan josh is rarely served outside Kashmir in its authentic style, in other parts of the country rogan josh is cooked in a different style, mainly using tomatoes to give it its red colour instead of Kashmiri mirch (a Kashmiri chili which is only moderately hot but gives the red colour).

Even in Kashmir there are different cooking styles. Kashmiri pundits (an upper Hindu caste), eat meat as opposed to other Hindus in India and they cook rogan josh without onion and ginger and garlic. They use fennel and asafoetida to give flavour to it. Kashmiri Muslims put lots of onions and garlic in their cooking and a local flower called maval, which gives the bright red colour to it. In the Mogul period, Indians used maval to give natural colour to many dishes but now it is indigenous to the state and not available outside Kashmir. Other states of India use an artificial edible colour. This recipe is the mixture of both Hindu and Muslim styles of rogan josh.

Ingredients for Rogan Josh

1kg mutton or lamb
1 cup curd
2 big onions (chopped)
Garlic and ginger paste
½ tsp Kashmiri mirch
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp ginger powder
½ tsp garam masala
2 tsp coriander powder
8 green cardamoms
12 cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
5 sticks of cinnamon
Salt to taste
2 tbsp white cream
5 tbsp oil
Fresh coriander

How to make Rogan Josh

  • Choose meat with loads of fat for cooking rogan josh.
  • Cut meat into 1 - 2 inch pieces and wash thoroughly. Mix the meat with the salt and curd and put aside for marinating.
  • Heat oil in a pan and add the cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon and peppercorn. When they stop crackling add the onions and fry until golden brown. Add the ginger and garlic paste and fry until the raw smell disappears.
  • Add the Kashmiri mirch, turmeric, cumin, ginger powder, garam masala, coriander powder and asafoetida and fry until it leaves the oil.
  • Add the marinated mutton or lamb with some salt. Cover and cook on low heat until meat tenders, adding water if necessary.
  • Add cream and stir in for a few minutes.
  • Take off the heat and garnish with fresh coriander.

Serve this dish with rice, roti or naan as you like. But as rogan josh has thin gravy, it goes best with rice. Quality of rice is also a very important factor.

Serves 4

"Just a comment about the quantity of ingredients in this series of recipes, I would say that most people add in different amounts according to how they like it. Recipes are either normally passed on or people learn by experimenting with different amounts of spices until they get the taste they like, for example, I know I put different amounts of thngs into curries than my family and friends do, everyone does tend to work out how much they like."

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Harpreet Virdee



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