Rogan Josh Recipe (Lamb Rogan Josh)
Rogan Josh, a classic comfort food from the Kashmiri Cuisine is a slow cooked dish made with lamb, spices, herbs and yogurt. You will seriously be hooked to this beautiful Kashmiri Rogan Josh and will turn back to time & again for a spectacular feast. Serve it with plain steamed rice, Chapati, roti, Butter naan, Sheermal, plain basmati rice or Turmeric rice. This recipe will give you soft, tender and juicy lamb with fall-off-the-bone tender meat in an extremely delicious sauce.
About Rogan Josh
Absolutely phenomenal in taste and texture, Rogan josh, the deep red spicy meat curry, is the signature dish of Kashmir and is an integral part of the lavish Kashmiri food spread, Wazwaan. In fact, this multi-course meal is one which you should be tasting at least once in your life since the dishes are so lip-smacking and delicious.
There are various interpretations of the name which I learnt. Rogan, pronounced as “roughan” means “oil or ghee” in Persian, while in Urdu, it may mean “brown or red”. On the other hand, “Josh” (jus) refers “to braise” or “stew”. Other meaning may be the intense heat. So Rogan josh may mean one that is “stewed or braised in ghee”.
Traditionally, Rogan josh was prepared by slow-cooking meat over a low heat for several hours. In the recent times, a pressure cooker is used for cooking the meat quickly.
But nothing can beat the slow cooked rogan josh. When the meat is simmered, it lends the dish a deep and substantial flavor that is also unique. Slow cooking seeps the marrow from the bones into the gravy making it thicker and delicious.
The thickness you taste and see in an authentic rogan josh comes from the bone marror, red chili paste, fennel powder, ginger powder and yogurt but not from onions, garlic and tomatoes. Some recipes do not even use yogurt and instead use pran (wild shallot paste).
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Traditional Vs Modernized version
Rogan josh gets its characteristic red color from the Kashmiri Red chilies and again not from tomatoes. Also the usage of ratan jot, an herb from the borage family enhances the deep color. Alternately a lot of people also use Cockscomb flower known as maval locally, for the the red color.
You will also find many households and restaurants making this without both ratan jot or cockscomb flower since both these do not make much difference to the flavor of rogan josh. A lot of restaurants use food color but I suggest simply to leave out these ingredients if they are not available.
There are numerous versions of this popular dish on the internet. Some use tomatoes for more volume, but this alters the original authentic taste considerably. Similarly, fresh ginger and garlic are not used in the original one. Instead, asafetida is added to get the flavor base of onion and garlic.
The usage of onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic makes it a regular Mutton curry and not ROGAN JOSH.
Rogan josh is prepared in 2 methods – Hindu Pandit method and the Kashmiri Muslim method. As such a lot of Kashmiri recipes vary depending on the community and region.
In the Hindu Pandit method, yogurt is used and involves searing and braising the meat, which isn’t included in the other method. Onion, fresh ginger, and garlic are avoided. Likewise, Ghee is used in this method.
In the Muslim version, a unique flavor enhancer known as pran or praan is used. It is made by deep frying wild onion or shallots until golden. These are later ground in a mortar pestle along with the oil in which they are fried. The resulting paste is a light and super flavorful ingredient that takes the dish to a new level.
Apart from these 2, a lot of households and chefs have their own recipes to make the dish. Some people use mustard oil instead of ghee and some use garlic.
My Rogan Josh Recipe
My Recipe is super simple and uses pantry staples. You will be surprised at how delicious this turns out with minimal ingredients. Though easy to make, it is not a fast recipe and as you know slow cooking mutton is what makes this dish so good.
Whether you are making a weeknight family dinner or in need of something amazing that will satisfy a crowd, this is an excellent aromatic dish that tastes close to the authentic version. This incredibly delicious fare packs a serious flavor punch from the ground spices like ginger, fennel and red chili.
This dish is made with mutton – goat or lamb. You may use your favorite meat including chicken but you won’t require so much liquid and red chilli powder.
Traditionally this dish is made with Kashmiri chili paste which adds volume and red color to the dish without making it too hot and pungent. For convenience I have used Kashmiri red chili powder. All the ingredients used in this recipe will be available easily in an Indian grocery stores.
Since we do not eat very spicy and hot foods I have used only 1 tablespoon red chilli powder. I have used ratan jot as it is easily available. Feel free to skip it. Here is how to use it.
How to use Ratan Jot
Ratan Jot or Alkanet root – The root of this plant was extensively used in traditional Indian cooking for its color. What’s more, it even imparts a mild flavor. This ingredient is optional and you may skip it. It is available online easily and here is how to use it if you are able to source it.
Heat two tablespoons of ghee or oil in a saucepan along with a few pieces of the ratan jot. Keep stirring for 1 to 2 mins until ratan jot is soaked up in ghee. I had to add more ghee and more herb.
Once the ghee becomes red, reduce the heat and let it simmer for 2 to 3 mins. Turn off the heat and allow the herb to steep until you need. Keep the pan in a slightly hot place so the ghee does not solidify. Follow the recipe to incorporate it in the recipe.
Dried Cockscomb Flower – Instead of Ratan Jot, you can use dried cockscomb flower also. Soak them in warm water for 20 minutes. Strain and use it. It gives the dish a distinctive taste (very mild) and color to the dish.
Rogan Josh Recipe (Lamb Rogan Josh)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
- 500 grams bone-in mutton (1.1 lb. tender lamb)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons ghee or mustard oil (refer notes)
- ¼ teaspoon asafoetida (hing, skip if you don't have)
- ½ cup curd (yogurt at room temperature, preferably fresh and not sour)
- ¾ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
- 1 to 1½ tablespoon Kashmiri red chili powder (or 2 tbsps. Kashmiri red chili paste)
- 1 cup hot water (or mutton stock)
Spices (refer notes)
- 1 bay leaf (skip if you don't have)
- 3 to 4 cloves (or ¼ teaspoon ground cloves)
- 1 inch cinnamon (or ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon)
- 3 green cardamoms (or ⅓ teaspoon ground cardamoms)
- 1 black cardamom (skip if you don't have)
- 1½ teaspoon fennel seeds powder
- ¾ teaspoon dried ginger powder (or substitute 1 teaspoon ginger paste)
How to Make Rogan Josh
- Heat oil or ghee in a heavy bottom pot and add bay leaf, green cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves and black cardamoms. (If you opt for the ground spices, add them later.)
- When the spices begin to sizzle in oil, add mutton and sear it for 1 to 2 minute on a high heat.
- Reduce the heat to medium and fry for another 4 to 5 minutes until the meat is slightly brown.
- While you fry the meat, add yogurt to a mixing bowl. Also add ground spices – red chilli powder, fennel powder, dried ginger powder and salt.
- Whisk all of them well. If your yogurt is too thick (like Greek yogurt), add 3 to 4 tablespoons of water or stock and whisk it well until smooth.
- Once the meat is light brown in color, add hing to the oil. Take the pot off the stove and slowly stir in the spice and yogurt mixture.
- Mix well and place the pot back on the stove. Cook covered for 3 to 4 minutes on a medium heat.
- Pour 1 cup hot water or stock. Cook covered on a low heat until tender, adding more hot water if required.
- Stir rogan josh every 7 to 8 minutes. When it is done, the mutton pieces should be soft, tender and fall off the bone.
- The cook time depends on the kind of pot, source of heat and the intensity of heat. Do not forget to add more hot water (if required) as you cook.
- The gravy in Rogan josh is neither runny nor too thick but is slightly thick as the some of the bone marrow seeps into the liquids. This results can be achieved only by slow cooking the dish.
- Taste test and add more salt if required. Turn off the heat and rest for few hours before serving. This helps to develop the flavors.
- Serve rogan josh with Butter Naan, Basmati Rice, Paratha or Roti. It is best served with plain rice.
- If using mustard oil, first heat it until smoking hot. Reduce the heat and then begin to cook.
- My spice combination makes this recipe the best. However if you do not have whole spices, then use garam masala plus fennel powder and fresh ginger paste.
- If using fresh ginger paste, add it when the mutton is light brown. Slide the mutton to a side and add the ginger paste to ghee/oil. Fry quickly until aromatic without burning.
- To use pran, skip using yogurt and use 4 to 5 tbsps of pran paste along with the ground spices. After searing the mutton, pour hot water or stock and cook until 50% done (half cooked). Then add all the ground spices and the pran paste.
- If using store bought bottled pran, make sure it is fresh and does not smell rancid. Pran stored in glass containers and made with ghee keeps good for longer.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
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I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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Was wondering if after I sweat and brown the lamb with the whole spices if I should crush the cardamom seeds. To help add more flavor. I’m not usually the cook in the house but I can follow directions. I didn’t know how hot or how long to cook the whole spices. I thought the aroma would fill my whole house, but it wasn’t quite that strong as I thought it would be. Overall it really was a good dish. I’m usually a vindaloo guy always!! But family is not…
You don’t need to cook the whole spices. You will just wait for them to sizzle and then add the lamb. Traditional Rogan josh has more natural meat flavors and won’t really have any dominating spice flavors. However you are free to add more ginger, fennel and even ground cardamom. I suggest you play around with the ground spices and may be you can also try with a strong meat masala or garam masala if that’s what you are looking for. Thank you for trying and sharing how it turned for you.
This was an excellent recipe. I’ve had rogan josh at many Indian restaurants, and was never really impressed by it, but this recipe is easy to make, simple and absolutely delicious.
Thank you Marga for trying and sharing back.
its the best rogan josh I have ever had.
I cant find hing, so Im doing a sub of garlic, and onion powder.
should i add to the yogurt mix with the other dry spices?
Thank you! Yes add them to the yogurt.
Thank you. This turned out wonderful!
Glad you like it Kavya
I’ve never made a curry style Indian dish that didn’t include onions, garlic, coriander and cumin!
Was sceptical as to how this would turn out, but it is delicious! (I didn’t have Kashmiri chilli, so substituted sweet paprika with a pinch of hot chilli – seems to work!)
Thank you for the recipe Swasthi – will definitely try some of your other dishes.
Glad it turned out delicious.
Is it possible to freeze this recipe in advance, and at what stage? How would you recommend reheating it? Thank you!
Yes you can freeze but not sure for how long. I do it for a week or so. Finish the dish, cool completely and freeze it. Thaw it in the fridge for about 16 to 18 hours and then reheat on a very low heat until it turns hot. Later cook for a minutes on a medium heat until bubbling & hot. Add a splash of hot water if you want. You can also do the same in Instant pot. I pressure cook it for 11 mins (PIP) & natural pressure release.
If we let the rogan josh sit on the stove covered with the heat off for a few hours- do we just reheat when it’s time? Or will it stay warm enough to serve
Yes reheat it before serving.
Is this recipe not better if the meat is marinated first?
You may marinate it overnight with the yogurt and all the spices. Actually it cooks faster too. But the recipe I shared here is the authentic way. Just didn’t wanted to divert from there. Hope you enjoy the dish.
Hello, at what point should I add Ratan Jot/Cockscomb if using please? It’s not in the recipe.
I haven’t tried this one yet but so far many of your recipes are amazing and this is my first stop now. Thank you so much and please keep doing what you’re doing!!
Thank you so much! Add it at the final stage, 2 mins before you turn off the heat. Hope you enjoy the dish
Thank you for this amazing recipe. I came across your website recently and choose to try this one. Having cooked Indian food for several years I can say this is absolutely a gem of recipes. I fail to express how amazing the flavors were. Keep up the good work!
Glad to know Robin. Thanks for letting me know how this turned out.
I’d like to try this recipe using Pran how much and when should it be added? And should I leave out the yogurt if I use pran.
I have updated the same in the recipe notes.
Wow! This recipe is delicious. I had made rogan josh so many times before and it always tasted like a normal dish. Nothing special! But I realized this tastes so good with a mélange of flavors. The lamb was unbelievably tender. This reminds us of the best rogan josh we had in a restaurant in old Delhi. After moving to the US we miss all those yummy foods. But no more because I am sure I will be making this more often now.
Thank you so much for trying and sharing back how it turned.
This rogan josh is absolute goodness. This is only the 3rd time I have rated a recipe on any food site. I used a combination of lamb shoulder and leg. The dish turned out to be more than what I expected. I have made Indian food many times and this site is absolutely amazing. Simple recipes but turn out very delicious. Swasthi is my go to for Indian foods. Keep up the good work.
Glad to know Donna. Thank you so much for trying my recipes and sharing back how they turn for you.