16th Century Classic Recipe: Mutton Rogan Josh

History of Kashmiri cuisine (culinary wonders of the Indian state, Jammu and Kashmir) dates back to as old as 300 B.C. when stories of Buddhism and King Ashoka dominated the time. But the best impacts have been recorded when Kashmiri Pandits became prominent in the society during Emperor Akbar‘s rule (circa 1587 A.D.). During this time, a lot of different, exotic recipes infused with the existing Kashmiri culinary scene, making it richer and even more unique. Notable among the foreign influences is the fusion of Persian ways of cooking where the use of various nuts, flower extracts, aromatics and spices blended into the culinary practices of Kashmir. (Note: Persian or Iranian cuisine is yet a blend of Greek, Roman and other Mediterranean cultures.) This is why Kashmiri food possesses a stark difference in its taste and cooking style compared to the rest of India.

Mutton is one of the most important ingredients in Kashmiri cuisine with over 30-35 marked recipes. The ‘Mutton Rogan Josh’ recipe that I am sharing here is the closest to the original, the roots of which can be traced back to the 16th century. But this is my version of preparing it.

Mutton Rogan Josh
Mutton Rogan Josh

The Recipe – Serves 3-4

Note: The measurements mentioned here are as per my personal liking. If you wish to readjust them to suit your taste, you are most welcome to do so.

You will need: 

Mutton – Very good quality (about 500 gm, boneless) – mutton needs to be marinated overnight

White Oil / Vegetable Oil – 50 ml (Do not panic, most of it will be removed before consumption!!)

Cinnamon – large thick sticks – 4

Green cardamom – 6-8

Cloves – 8-10

Whole black peppers – 1 tsp

Dry red chili – 2 big pieces, seeds removed or as many as you may like, for the heat

Mustard oil – 2 tsp

Fennel seeds – 1 tsp (heaped)

Cockscomb flower powder / Mawal – 2 tsp (optional)

Black pepper powder – 2 tsp

Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tsp

Raw turmeric paste – 2 tsp

Garam Masala powder – 1 tsp (heaped)

Yogurt – 100 gm

Saffron – 4-5 tsp, soaked in warm milk

Salt – to taste

Aluminium foil


Step 1: Add salt to the cleaned mutton pieces, such that you will not need to add salt later in the cooking. Now add 1 tsp turmeric paste and mix well. In a chutney blender, add the red chilies, 1″ long cinnamon stick, 3-4 pieces of peeled green cardamom, 1 tsp black pepper powder and 2 tsp mustard oil and grind into a rough paste. Add this to the mutton. Massage the meat very well, until all the ingredients are mixed well with the meat.

Now, place the mutton along the sides of the bowl and place a smaller bowl in the center. Take two sticks of cinnamon and light them. Place the burning sticks in the bowl and quickly cover with aluminum foil. Put the whole thing into the freezer overnight.

Step 2: In a pressure cooker, heat white oil to smoking point. Put the mutton pieces, about 4-6 pieces at a time and sear them till brownish on the outside. Strain the oil and let it rest aside. Repeat with each piece of mutton.

Step 3: In this oil, now full of the residue of the extracts, add 100 gm yogurt and keep stirring until oil separates and raw yogurt smell is gone. Add the mutton pieces back into this and cook on high heat for 2-3 mins, constantly coating them with your ladle. Pour the whole thing into a bowl and keep aside.

Step 4: In the same pressure cooker, add little more oil and wait until very hot. Now add rest of the green cardamoms, 1 cinnamon stick, cloves, fennel seeds, black peppercorns, ginger-garlic paste and raw turmeric paste. Cook on medium heat until oil separates. Now add just the gravy from the bowl of mutton. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium – high heat, stirring occasionally until oil separates.

Now, push the masala to one side and tilt the pressure cooker a little bit to one side. You will see the oil accumulate. Pour the oil and discard.

Step 5: To this masala, now add the mutton back and mix. Cover and cook until water from mutton is released.

Step 6: Boil around 350 ml of water. Pour this boiling water to the mutton. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes.

Step 7: Now add the garam masala, cockscomb flower powder (optional), 1 tsp black pepper powder and saffron. (If you like more heat, you can add red chili paste or paprika.)

Step 8: On low heat, let it cook up for 5-6 whistles. (This is because, since the meat has been seared before and will cook with yogurt, it will take more time than usual.) Let it sit in the pressure cooker until the pressure is released naturally.

It may seem that the taste of cinnamon will be overpowering. But actually, it doesn’t happen so. There are very subtle undertones of all the spices used and they enhance the flavor of the meat even more. The cinnamon adds to the aroma a tad bit more than the others but the result is actually amazing!

©2016.Amrita Kar Roy.All Rights Reserved


2 thoughts on “16th Century Classic Recipe: Mutton Rogan Josh

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s