Monday, 18 March 2013

Kashmiri Rogan Josh (Pandit Style)

The food journey continues for me in Kolkata. There was a time during my childhood days when mutton came much cheaper than chicken. Thus Pathar Jhol was the regular Sunday Special in many Bengali household. The evergreen Dakbangalow Mutton Curry had retained its regal air through generations. With passing years the equation changed drastically. Chicken became the food for the common man and mutton was reserved only for some special occasions like wedding. Moreover people became more and more health conscious and started to do away with red meat from their meal as it increased blood cholesterol. But still how can you not love something which had formed an integral part of your growing up years. The taste which still comes back every time you see a picture of mutton curry.

More than chicken I love mutton. In Pune we don't get good Mutton in the area where I stay hence experimenting with mutton continues to be a far fetched dream for me. So when I visited Kolkata this time I coaxed Ma into making a mutton dish. We got some fresh red meat from the local market. And then began our discussion on what special dish to make with it. Since ma also rarely made mutton at home after i had left home so I was thinking of making something special other than the traditional Bengali fare. A  few recipe search and I knew a recipe I liked. It had the necessary royalty about it while being easy on the stomach - the Rogan Josh. But when I started reading about the Rogano josh I came across too many versions of it. But a bit more R&D let to the conclusion that the best traditional recipe of Rogan Josh was the Kashmiri Pandit style Rogan Josh, which is devoid of any traces of onion, tomato or garlic. Me and ma were speculating that without onion or tomato how would we arrive with a consistent gravy, but when the dish was finally prepared it had oodles of delicious flavoury gravy oozing with the regal aroma of mutton cooked to perfection.

The authentic Pandit style Rogan Josh consists of braised lamb chunks cooked with a gravy based on browned onions or shallots, yogurt  garlic, ginger and aromatic spices (cloves, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon). Its characteristic brilliant red color traditionally comes from liberal amounts of dried Kashmiri chilies.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes 

Marination Time: 2 hour

Cooking Time: 40 minutes


Cuisine: Kashmiri


  • Mutton - 500 gm (Cut into 1½ inch pieces)
  • Green Papaya - 1/4 tsp (finely grated) 
  • Cinnamon Powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Ground Green Cardamom  - 1/4 tsp
  • Ground Black Cardamom - 1/4 tsp
  • Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder - 1/4 tsp
  • Ground Clove -1/4 tsp
  • Ground Black Peppercorn - 1/4 tsp
  • Ground Fennel Seed - 1/4 tsp
  • Salt to taste
For Gravy
  • Green Cardamom Whole - 2
  • Black Cardamom Whole - 2
  • Cinnamon Stick - 2"
  • Clove - 2
  • Black Peppercorn - 4
  • Fennel Seed (Saunf) - 1/2 tsp
  • Ground Asafoetida (Hing) - 1/2 tsp
  • Dry Ginger Powder / Ginger Paste - 1/2 tsp
  • Ghee - 2 tsp
  • Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder - 1/2 tsp
  • Ratanjot infusion - 1/4 cup
  • Yogurt - 1 small cup (whisked)
  • Water - 2 cups (warm)
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Refined oil - 1/2 cup
Optional Addition:
  • Potatoes - 2 medium (halved)


1. Clean the Mutton

2. Halve the Potatoes  and shallow fry them until edges turn slightly brown. In a pressure cooker , pressure cook the potatoes adding 2 cups of water for one whistle. Remove from the cooker and keep aside. (This is an optional step. Being Bengali we simply cant do without adding potato in our meat dishes). Preserve the potato stock for later use in the cooking.

3. Grind all the spices mentioned under marinade separately. Add the ingredients  to the mutton and mix well. Marinate the mutton for 2 hours.

4. Heat wok and add the cooking oil. Let the oil heat up until smoking.

5. Reduce the heat and toss in the Green Cardamom, Black Cardamom, Cinnamon Stick, Black Peppercorn and Fennel Seeds. You may coarsely grind the Green Cardamom, Black Cardamom and Clove before tossing it into the oil. Increase the heat.

6. Add the Asafoetida and immediately add the marinated mutton. Usually Asafoetida is added in water and then its added to wok because if you fry the Asafoetida for more time it will get burnt. But in this recipe we are directly adding the Asafoetida Powder to the oil, hence we add the meat immediately to prevent burning.

The authentic Kashmiri Pandit Style Rogan Josh does not contain any traces of tomato, onion or garlic. The Asafoetida  substitutes for the strong smell of garlic. And believe me it tastes much better. I am not sure if Hing would go well with any chicken preparation or not but you may as well give it a try and let me know.

7. Cook the mutton till caramelized and the meat had started to release oil. 

8. Add the ginger paste and fold into the meat well.

 The authentic recipe needs dried ginger powder. Since I did not have it so I substituted it with ginger paste of same amount. The dried ginger powder has a beautiful aroma which accentuates the flavor of the dish. So its always recommended to add dried ginger powder. But ginger paste also didn't alter the dish's taste.

9. Add Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder and toss the meat.

10. Add Ratanjot infusion in oil 

Alkanet is traditionally used in Indian food under the name "Ratan Jot" which lends the characteristic red colour to Rogan Josh. This root is soluble in alcohol, ether, and the oils, but is insoluble in water. So the infusion has to be made with oil. If you do not happen to have you can still prepare Rogan Josh only you will be missing out on the color a bit. Also if by chance have Red chilli powder from Kashmir itself it will help to a great extent. The last time I had gone to Kashmir I had got Ma a packet of Kashmiri Red Chilli powder. That had become her prized possession as its colour and flavour is unmatched to anything that we get in any other part of India. But even if you dont have either of the two go ahead and make the dish, since ratanjot doesn't have any flavour so the final taste wont change due to the absence of it.

11. Add the whisked Yogurt and fold into the meat. Adjust the salt and sugar in this stage.

The preparation will release a lot of oil in itself. Though it doesn't  contain any traces of onion or tomato the gravy will be slightly thick due to the Yogurt  and the spices. So people who prefer a bit of gravy in their meat do not need to worry.

12. Cover the wok and cook on low flame for 5 minutes

13. If you want to preserve gas and cook the meat quickly instead of cooking the meat on dum you can transfer the entire contents of the wok into a pressure cooker and add 2 cups of water or more as desired. Pressure cook the meat for 2 whistles first on high flame. Then lower the flame and let it cook for 15 minutes in the cooker without giving out any whistles. Once done switch off the heat and wait for the pressure inside the cooker to die out before removing the lid.

The Papain of the grated Papaya will act as a meat tenderizer and on top of that pressure cooking will guarantee a tender texture for the mutton. 

14. Transfer the contents from the cooker to the wok again and add the boiled and fried potatoes. Fold in the meat and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

15. Add ghee and cook for 5-6 minutes. Turn off the flame.

Serve with Basmati or plain rice, naan or any kind of Indian Flat breads. 

Sending this recipe toPriya's and Spicy Treat's "Diwali Delicacy" event.

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