Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh Recipe and Video (with Ratan Jot)

This is the real deal Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh, no tomato in sight! Find out how you too can make it at home the way it's made in Kashmir.
Kashmiri Rogan Josh
lamb shank curry in blue plate
Kashmiri Rogan Josh

Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh is one of the most well known Indian curries in the world. It certainly is here, in the UK. Unfortunately though, the genuine article is not easy to find in British restaurants and impossible in our takeaways. But more of that later.

Before we move on, I suggest you grab a cup of java, and head on over to the Kashmiri Cuisine page to read up on Kashmiri food culture and Kashmiri history. It’ll give you a better grasp of the cuisine, enlighten your mind and whet your appetite.

What is Rogan Josh?

Rogan Josh is an aromatic, mildly spicy, with hints of sweet, slightly dark, reddish Indian curry from the region of Kashmir. It is traditionally made with mutton (not goat), and is one of the stars of grand Kashmiri feasts, called Wazwan.

An authentic Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh, is in itself a bit of a misnomer. This is because there are basically 2 types of Rogan Josh: the Kashmiri Muslim version and the Kashmiri Pandit (Brahmins) version.

There are a few marked differences between the two traditional recipes. I stress the word traditional, because over time, these variations have overlapped each other and have taken on the odd ingredient and style of cooking.

On top of that, each chef, or waza (as they are called), would also have his own little take on the traditional recipe. The following are just some of the general differences between the 2 styles of cooking, not just in today’s rogan josh, but in the other recipes shared by the two communities:

  • The Muslims use onions and garlic, while the Pandits didn’t, traditionally, and many still don’t.
  • Natural food colouring: the Muslims tend to use mawal, or cockscomb flower, while the Pandits traditionally used ratan jot, see below. Click the images to read more.
  • The Pandits use asafoetida, the Muslims don’t. This is mainly as a substitute for the onions and garlic.

What does Rogan Josh mean?

The Kashmiri lamb rogan josh is definitely a Moghul legacy; after all, the name is in Farsi, the Persian language.

  • Rogan simply means oil
  • Josh can mean any number of things, ranging from heat, fiery, passion and also, the spots on your face!

So …

  • boiling oil stew?
  • red stew?

Take your pick, no one can quite agree on the actual literal translation of the recipe name itself. The bottom line is, it’s a curry, or an Indian stew, if you like, which is what curries are, when you think about it.

Kashmiri Wazwan

The wazwan is a multi course meal unlike anything you’ve ever come across! Dish after dish after dish, and mainly of meat, but served and flavoured differently.

The grandest of these will be the Royal Wazwan that is made up of 36 courses! Can you imagine that – not just the splendour, but actually eating all those dishes, most of which will be of mutton, including today’s rogan josh.

Suffice it to say, the actual wazwan, whether it only had 12 courses, or 24, or the Royal 36, would be a magnificent, opulent feast, a ceremony that has many parts to it.

However, in 2017, the Kashmiri government passed a law to cut down on the food wastage that is common in large wazwans. Since 2017, only 7 meat dishes and 7 vegetarian dishes are allowed at any celebrations.

You can read up more on this as well as get more information on Kashmiri cuisine and its history over at the Kashmiri Page.

Kashmiri Rogan Josh
what a deep colour, right?

Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh Recipe

So we’ve already ascertained that there isn’t 1 original recipe. However, one thing is for certain. Now repeat after me:

There are no tomatoes in Rogan Josh!

Only in crappy restaurants and takeaways.

Any self respecting Indian cook would never, should never, put tomatoes in his or her rogan josh.

Because of the mawal, ratan jot and kashmiri chillies, the true kashmiri rogan josh has a deep red colour. Many people outside of Kashmir achieve this colour with kashmiri chillies and tomatoes or tomato purée. Which changes the flavour, and really, can only be called a cheat’s rogan josh. Which it doesn’t have to be, whether you can get the red colouring or not. Let’s read on, shall we?

LinsFood’s Rogan Josh

Let’s talk about the recipe here, the one that I’ve been using for a number of years. The foundation is the Kashmiri Muslim recipe I learnt in the 90s. However, as mentioned earlier, I use ratan jot, as it’s easier to get here in the UK.

On top of that, I absolutely loved Lalitha’s use of fennel seeds in her recipe (from her family chef), and have incorporated it into the final stage of the recipe. Lalitha gave classes in my cooking school (out of my kitchen). I’m assuming here that you’ve read the detailed article on Kashmiri Cuisine here.

Apparently, many Kashmiri Muslims do not sauté their aromatics, nor do they brown their meat first. However, Mrs Ghulam (my Kashmiri teacher) always did it, and so, I do too.

You can read more about the ladies I mention above on the Kashmiri Cuisine page.

Kashmiri Lamb Shank Rogan Josh
Bread is always good with rogan josh

Meat in Rogan Josh

Traditionally, it was mutton that was used in rogan josh, as mutton, and not goat, was the meat in the area. However, I’ve always used lamb, because I am not a fan of mutton, and as this is the UK, mutton is not a common meat at all.

Rogan josh is also sometimes made with chicken, you might like to know.

So use lamb if you like, or mutton if you prefer.

And, look out for our Kukkur Rogan Josh, or Chicken Rogan Josh in a few weeks. I use saffron in that, for a change.

What cut of Meat?

Leg of lamb is always good for curries and stews, as is shoulder. If you buy your meat from a butcher, get him to chop it up into large cubic pieces, as meat always shrinks upon cooking. But make sure that you take the bone too. Always add bone to your stews, soups and curries, for a dish with better flavour and depth.

If you buy ready cubed meat, then drop in a lamb chop or two, if you like, the ones off a rack.

In these pictures, I am using lamb shanks. I love shanks, and because they are very impressive and elegant when served whole, I’ve left them so for the pictures.

This is also what I do when I’m cooking for more upmarket clientele, which made up the majority of my old catering work. Each diner gets a whole lamb shank with rice and naan.

However, when I’m cooking for my friends and meat eating family, I let the shanks fall apart, and pull the meat off the bone, before serving. So one shank will serve 2, even 3 people, depending on the size. Of the shanks and the people! Am I allowed to say that last bit in this day and age? 🤔

Can’t get Ratan Jot or Mawal?

If you want the real deal, whatever you do, do not substitute it with tomatoes.

Not that rogan josh with tomatoes is not yummy, mind you, just not the genuine article, which is what this recipe post is all about.

I think Rick Stein (a chef I enjoy watching) suggests going down the beetroot erm, route. While it certainly seems like a good idea as far as the colour goes, beetroot has a rather strong, earthy flavour, doesn’t it? Which your rogan josh will end up having, right? Beetroot rogan josh, anyone?

Let’s just ask ourselves a question. Why must we make our rogan josh red when neither ratan jot nor mawal actually contribute in terms of flavour?

So what do we do? Cook the curry as per the recipe here and leave the colour concerns at the kitchen door. It’s the taste that we want, isn’t it?

If you like your curries on the spicy side (who doesn’t?), then you can definitely increase the Kashmiri chilli powder, which will give you a redder curry. But not too much, as too much of any chilli powder will make your recipe bitter.

Black cardamoms (as used in the recipe, see below)

Spices in Rogan Josh

This varies from home to home, waza to waza, and of course, whether it’s the Pandit rogan josh or the Muslim version, even if that line isn’t the clearest anymore. These are the spices commonly used (though not all at once!):

  • black cardamom (badi elaichi) – image above, read more below
  • green cardamom (choti elaichi)
  • cinnamon (dalchini)
  • cloves (laung)
  • cumin (jeera)
  • coriander (dhaniya)
  • Kashmiri chilli powder (Kashmiri lal mirch powder, really, that last bit)
  • ground ginger (sonth)
  • fennel (fennel)
  • black peppercorns (kali mirch)
  • saffron (kesar/zaffran)
  • asafoetida (hing) – this is often used to replicate the missing onion, ginger and garlic in Indian cooking

Black Cardamom

Unlike the smaller, sweeter green cardamoms, black cardamoms are not shy. They have a commanding presence, with a smoky and woody aroma because they are dried on an open fire.

Amomum subulatum, the black cardamom is also known as the Nepal cardamom and Bengal cardamom. I’ll do a full article on it soon!

Kashmiri Chilli Powder

Kashmiri chilli powder is ground, dried, red kashmiri chillies. Kashmiri chillies are all about colour and flavour, not heat. Read more here.

At just 1000 – 2000 Scoville units, these are super mild chillies, and are grown for the vibrancy they give to recipes. If you can’t find real Kashmiri chilli powder, get the mildest one you can find.

Many Kashmiri chilli powders outside of Kashmir are fakes. If the chilli powder is hot, you know it’s not the real thing.

To my American readers: chilli powder outside of the US means just that – ground, dried chilli peppers, nothing else added. What you guys would call cayenne powder, I think.

What Fat to use in Rogan Josh?

Ghee is the fat of choice, especially for the Kashmiri Muslims, while mustard oil and/or vegetable oil is the Pandits’ traditional choice.

I must confess that I love ghee, and I love mustard oil. Over the years, I’ve used them interchangeably in Indian recipes and even in the Kashmiri Rogan Josh. I shall leave this one up to you.

The use of mustard oil raises some concerns as it contains high levels of erucic acid, which may affect the heart. So I use this particular brand that is a blend of mustard and rapeseed oiIs. Click here to get it from Amazon.

Ok then, I think I may have just exhausted the topic. And myself. If you have any questions, just leave me a comment below. And if you are a Kashmiri, and have something to add, I would very much love to hear it.

Look out for the video in the coming week.

Shall we get our aprons on?


♥ If you like the recipe, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! 😉 Thank you! 

And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood

Lin xx

Kashmiri Rogan Josh

Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh Recipe and Video (with Ratan Jot)

This is the real deal Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh, no tomato in sight! Find out how you too can make it at home the way it's made in Kashmir.
5 from 41 votes
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: curry, kashmiri, lamb
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings: 4 (2-4)
Calories: 229kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor

Ingredients

Aromatics

  • 1 large onion
  • 2.5 cm ginger (or ½ Tbsp ginger-garlic paste)
  • 2 garlic cloves (or ½ Tbsp ginger-garlic paste, so a TOTAL of 1 because of the ginger above)

Spices

  • 2 black cardamoms lightly crushed, to release their aroma
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 Tbsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground coriander

To Finish (no ratan jot or mawal? Skip them, and just finish with the rest)

  • 1 small square sheet of muslin (no muslin? See instructions below)
  • 2 Tbsp ratan jot pieces (or 1 mawal/cockscomb flower)
  • 5 cm ginger
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 Tbsp ghee or vegetable oil

Everything Else

  • 2-3 Tbsp ghee (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 lamb shanks (or meat on the bone, weighing 1 kg)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 125 ml yoghurt
  • 500 ml water

Garnish (optional)

Instructions

Prep Work

    The Aromatics

    • Chop up the onion fairly finely and set aside.
    • Pound (or use a chopper) the ginger and garlic to get a small amount of paste. Add a little water as necessary. You shouldn't need water if using a pestle and mortar. Or use a shop bought paste.

    The Spices

    • Measure out all your spices, whole and ground and set them aside. Don't forget to lightly pound your black cardamoms, to help them release their aroma.

    The Finish

    • Measure out the ratan jot and spices and set aside.
    • Place the the ratan jot on your muslin and tie into a little bundle. If you don't have any muslin, don't worry, see alternative method below.
    • Slice the ginger into matchstick slices.

    Let's Get Cooking!

    • Heat 2 Tbsp of ghee in a large saucepan on medium heat.
    • Brown the lamb shanks all over. This will take about 5 minutes, and your kitchen is going to smoke. Open the windows, turn on your extractor, and mind that smoke alarm!
    • Take the lamb shanks out and place on a plate and set aside until needed.
    • In the same pot, fry the cardamoms and cinnamon stick for 30 seconds on medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp of ghee if the saucepan is dry.
    • Tip in the onions and fry for 2 minutes on medium-low heat.
    • Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for 30 seconds.
    • Add the lamb shanks back into the saucepan, along with any juices on the plate (bloody or not). Add the Kashmiri chilli powder, ground ginger and ground coriander, then stir a little to coat the meat. Still on medium-low heat.
    • On the same heat, add the water, and before it starts to boil, slowly drip in the yoghurt, stirring constantly. I've found that the best way to prevent the yoghurt from curdling is to drop a dollop (about 1 Tbsp) of yoghurt, stir, another dollop, stir, until it's all in. If it curdles, it doesn't matter, your curry will still be delicious.
    • Bring to a simmer, increase the heat to medium if you are too impatient to wait for it to heat up. Then, cover with a lid, reduce the heat right down, and cook on this very low heat for 1½ – 2 hours until your meat is fully cooked.

    Final Step

    • Heat 2 Tbsp of ghee in the smallest frying pan you have on medium-low heat. Place the muslin pouch (with the ratan jot) in the pan and swirl it around to allow the ratan jot to heat up and for the oil to get red. If the muslin is soaking up too much of the ghee, add a Tbsp more.
      If you don't have any muslin, just fry the ratan jot in the ghee, drain, then add the ginger and fennel, before adding to the recipe right at the end. Use a metal strainer, a plastic one will melt with the hot oil.
    • When your ghee is a beautiful deep red (a minute or 2, max should do), add the ginger slices and the fennel seeds. Fry for 30 seconds, then turn the heat off.
    • Discard the muslin pouch, squeezing out the red oil using 2 spoons. Then, pour this beautifully coloured and flavoured oil all over your rogan josh.
    • Stir the rogan josh, then turn the heat off. Leave to rest for 5 minutes, then serve.
    • You can finish it off with some coriander leaves, if you like.

    The curry will freeze very well, for up to 3 months. It will also keep in the fridge for 2 days.

      Video

      Nutrition

      Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 87mg | Sodium: 743mg | Potassium: 396mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1284IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 79mg | Iron: 3mg

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      18 thoughts on “Kashmiri Lamb Rogan Josh Recipe and Video (with Ratan Jot)”

      1. A well-rounded article and recipe. but if I want to make both versions of it, do I just not add onions and garlic to the recipe?

        1. Thanks Amit. If you want to make 2 different Muslim and Pandit versions, my suggestion:
          Muslim: don’t brown the meat or spices at the start. Place everything in a saucepan and let it come to a simmer. When the meat is cooked, you could stir in a tablespoon of ghee for added flavour. If you can get mawal, use mawal as the colouring agent. If not, go ahead with ratan jot. But if you can’t get either, I wouldn’t bother with using any food colouring.

          Pandit: follow the recipe, as it is, but leave out the onion, garlic and ginger. Sprinkle a pinch of asofoetida when you add the lamb shanks back into the pot (step 7). Then finish off with vegetable oil (instead of ghee) tadka, comprising of just fennel seeds and ratan jot. Skip the ratan jot if you don’t have it.

          I hope that helps.

      2. Swapna Mazumder

        Hi, how much in weight or cup measure is one large onion. Since onions come in all sizes and is an integral part of this recipe it is important to have an exact measure. Most serious recipes usually do.

        1. Lol, you’re the first person who thinks my recipes aren’t serious.:)
          I don’t weigh onions, not in any of the restaurants I’ve cooked in, nor for magazines I write. And I don’t know any other chef who does it. In the same way that we don’t weigh garlic, ginger, chillies, lemongrass, bay leaves, etc.
          It is not an exact science. A large onion is just that – very large. Then there’s a medium onion, then there are small ones (which are not shallots). If you use an onion that’s SLIGHTLY larger or smaller, it’s not going to change the flavour of the curry. Of course, if you double the amount or halve the amount of onions or garlic or ginger, then you will change the flavour of a dish.
          But if you really need it, the weight of a large onion would be something like 160-200 g. Even the large onions can vary in sizes – it really doesn’t matter. Sometimes I would make this rogan josh with onions that may weigh 160g, at other times, I may have an onion that weighs 200g.

      3. I found this recipe last week and I’m keen to have a crack at it but I have quick question — my current burners are pretty aggressive on low heat and everything tends to catch in the center of the pot if it’s not constantly attended. Could I use a cast iron pot and transfer covered or cracked slightly to the oven after bringing to a simmer? Any thoughts on temperature?

        1. Hi Kristen, treat it like a stew. So yes, to the cast iron pan and cooking in the oven. I would go for 180°C (Fan 160°C)/350°F. Cook it for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, until the lamb is done. If you are using smaller sized meats (no shanks), it’ll be done earlier.
          Let me know how it goes.

      4. 5 stars
        This was amazing, Azlin! We love rogan josh but this was a bit of a revelation in terms of taste, and the recipe too. I loved everything in this article, it’s so detailed, thank you! Your rista recipe is next this weekend.

      5. 5 stars
        Thank you Azlin, big curry fan here, and looking forward to making this recipe. I learnt something new today, didn’t realise that rogan josh isn’t meant to have tomatoes.

      6. Mona Levesque

        5 stars
        We made this yesterday, Azlin, and it was one of the most delicious curries I have ever tasted in my whole life! I bought the ratan jot the same week you posted about it, and as soon as this came in my inbox yesterday morning I sent the hubby out to get the some lamb. Made it for dinner, just us 2, and having the leftover tonight. Thank you, I am looking forward to all the recipes in this series.
        Mona xoxo

      7. 5 stars
        Alright! You know I got ratan jot from Amazon after that post. Going to get some lamb in this week and we will be in business! I’m so excited!

      8. John Wilson

        5 stars
        I stand in awe! I love my curries, and have made rogan josh so many times, including Rick Stein’s, but after reading your article, I realised that I have never understood it.
        I’m heading over to read up about those 2 ingredients and get some for myself. Next weekend, first attempt at the real thing.

        1. Haha, that is very high praise, John! Thank you, I’m pleased that you appreciate the effort. Let me know what you think when you make this one.

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