Sunday, 1 June 2014

Mutton Rogan Josh

Yes I am still in that mode - I have been browsing through the photographs we clicked in Kashmir all through the day, and reliving every memory time and again. My cousin who accompanied my brother and me on the trip, has extended her holiday and stayed over this weekend which means that the only conversation that took place in my house pertained to our holiday in Kashmir - the oh-so-tiresome trek to Vaishno Devi (it was a surreal experience I tell you), the never ending drive to Srinagar from Katra, the brilliant Chhole and Paneer paratha we devoured in this small sweatmeat shop in Kud, mountain-biking in Gulmarg, being stranded for hours in a small roadside shack in Sonmarg after roads had shutdown after a showdown between the army and local police and the unforgettable Rogan Josh in Pahalgam.

Kungdoor, above Gulmarg. We took the Gondola
With views like that who minds being stranded (in Sonmarg)
Yes I had written all about the Rogan Josh in my last post but seriously, I just can't get over it. My aunt and her younger daughter, (the elder one is the cousin who came with us on the trip) have come down too and this weekend has been an extension of the great times we had up north really. So, my folks, my aunt and her younger daughter (who is quite irked by the fact that she couldn't come on the trip while her elder sister could) after two days of having their minds numbed by our reminiscences , have had enough and they threw a challenge at me. I was to treat them with Rogan Josh for Sunday dinner. And I took it up of course. My cousin helped me in the kitchen which meant my mum was terrified all the while. We are a bit crazy when we're together.

Now if I had to make a Rogan Josh I wanted to recreate the version we had in Pahalgam. Back their I had pestered the young lad who had made it an entire evening for the recipe. At first he was surprisingly willing and then he simply played hard. He probably couldn't handle all the praise. After hours of coaxing and cajoling all I could get out of him was the ingredient list and I am sure he left out a few.

Now years ago, a decade to be precise, I was still in school, I had attended a cookery class, my only one till date. Originally my mother was supposed to attend it and then something came up and I volunteered to do it in her place. The class was conducted by one Mrs Alim and on the days menu there was Chicken Biryani, Baked Bekti, Tandoori Chicken and Mutton Rogan Josh.Oh how I was elbowed and  pushed around as the 20 odd people attending the class jostled for front row space around the island on which Mrs Alim was performing her culinary recital. And how later when Mrs Alim was dishing out tasting portions for us students, innumerable tiffin boxes made their way over my shoulder and head. I was too embarrassed to hand out my tiffin box, though I was carrying it too, and only got to taste a spoonful of Biryani and a flake of baked fish.I got my cheeks pulled too, 16-year-olds weren't common occurrences at cookery classes back then I guess. We were given photocopies of handwritten recipes of the four dishes, to take home and as far as I remember I had tried the Rogan Josh once at home soon after I had attended the class and then I had forgotten all about it. The Rogan Josh was quite a hit though but it was a simplified version. However I thought it would be a good frame work to with today. So, this morning I ferreted out that crumbled piece of paper from among my mothers huge collection of recipe cut outs and photocopies, she keeps them all and got to work. I took the basic frame work from Mrs Alim's recipe and added to several other ingredients. I had no measurement guidelines so had to depend on my senses alone. Traditionally Rogan Josh is cooked without onion or garlic. However, considering the fact that I was working with Mrs Alim's recipe, I used onions anyway. I am soon going to make the version without onion or garlic! Moreover, traditionally the red colour in the dish comes from Ratan Jot. I lost my packet somewhere during the travels and I have been forced to use Kashmiri Red Chili Powder.

At the end of today's experiment though I can say  I was very proud of really. My brother had no clue what I was trying to accomplish, he took a spoonful of the soupy deliciousness that was the gravy and said this is just like what we had in Pahalgam and I did a jig like no other jig. In fact, what I love best about the Rogan Josh is how rich it looks yet how light it is on the palate. This isn't authentic to the tee but as close as it can get.

By the way today I had run out of sont (ginger powder) so I used fresh ginger paste today. Ideally I would use sont in the recipe.

Mutton - 2 kg
Curd - 100 g
Minced Papaya - 3 tbsp
Finely chopped onions - 1 cup packed
Garlic paste - 3/4 tsp
Ginger paste*- 2 tbsp
Chopped Tomatoes - 3 (medium)
Fresh finely chopped coriander leaves - 1 cup (loosely packed)

Whole spices 
Bay leaves - 4-5
Cardamom - 8
Black Cardamom - 2-3
Cloves - 8
Cinnamon stick - 2-3 inch
Peppercorns - 12-15

Asafoetida - 2 tsp
Kashmiri Red Chili powder - 21/2 tbsp
Coriander Powder - 11/2 tbsp
Dry roasted fennel powder - 2 tbsp
Salt to taste

Mustard oil - 1/2 cup
Ghee - 2 -3 tbsp
Warm Water


Marinate the mutton with curd and minced raw papaya for 30-45 minutes.

Heat mustard oil and ghee in a pan. Add the whole spices and once the begin flutter add the asafoetida.

Once the spices exude their aroma add the onions and fry until the onions soften and begin to catch colour. Add the garlic and fry some more.

Now add the mutton and fry on high heat for a few minutes. One by one add the Kashmiri red chili powder, coriander powder, fennel powder and ginger paste. Add salt and fry the meat on medium-high heat for another 8-10 minutes stirring all the while.

Add warm water, enough to completely cover the meat, the dish will be soupy, and bring to a boil. Once it has been boiling for a few minutes add the chopped tomatoes and coriander leaves, reduce to heat to minimum, cover and cook until meat softens. Adjust seasoning and serve hot.

(Alternatively, if you have time in hand, cook the meat for 20-25 minutes turn off heat and let the meat rest for 4-5 hours. Then put it back on heat again and cook for another 15 minutes or so to get melt in the mouth meat steeped in flavours - a trick I learnt from a friend and fellow blogger.)

* You can replace the ginger paste with 1 1/4 tbsp of sont or ginger powder.

Note: Ideally the mutton used in Rogan Josh is Revaji, ie is with thin, delicate layers of fat between the meat.   


  1. hii. i tried this delicacy at was just superb.just my dish became a bit dry. thanx for sharing this fabulous recipe

    1. Thank you so much Sayantani. Glad you liked it. Next time make the dish soupy, like our patlar mangshor jhol, and savour with rice.