Rogan Josh

Rogan Josh

Rogan josh also spelled roghan josh or roghan ghosht, is an aromatic curried meat dish. It is made with red meat, traditionally lamb or goat. It is coloured and flavoured primarily by alkanet flower or root and Kashmiri chilies.

Rogan josh consists of pieces of lamb or mutton braised with a gravy flavoured with garlic, ginger and aromatic spices (cloves, bay leaves, cardamom, and cinnamon), and in some versions incorporating onions or yogurt. After initial braising, the dish may be finished using the slow cooking technique.

Its characteristic deep red colour traditionally comes from dried flowers or root of Alkanna tinctoria (ratan jot) and from liberal amounts of dried, deseeded Kashmiri chilies (lal mirch). These chilies, whose flavour approximates that of paprika, are considerably milder than the typical dried cayenne pepper of Indian cuisine. The recipe’s spice emphasises aroma rather than heat. Saffron is also part of some traditional recipes as in mine below.

There are significant differences in preparation between the Hindu and Muslim dishes preperation. Muslims use praan, a local form of shallot, and petals of maval, the cockscomb flower, for colouring (and for its supposed “cooling” effect); Hindus eschew these, along with garlic and onions, but may add yogurt to give additional body and flavour.

Many western interpretations of the dish add tomatoes to the sauce. This is especially common with ready-made pour-over cooking sauces to the point where the dish may be considered tomato-based. The authenticity of including tomatoes is disputed: some authors state that tomatoes are not part of the traditional dish or of traditional Indian cuisine and should not be included. However, other authors have specifically referred to rogan josh as a dish based around meat and tomatoes, while others have identified tomatoes with a Punjabi version of the dish as opposed to a Kashmiri one.

Either way I use tomatoes for my recipe.
You can leave it out if prefered. I think it adds a richness that I like.


1kg Leg of Lamb
150 grams Yogurt
Pinch of Saffron
30 grams Crushed Almonds
5 tbsp Oil

For the garam masala:

1 1⁄2 tsp cumin
6 green cardamom
2 black cardamom
1 inch cinnamon stick
8 cloves
1 star anise
2 blades of mace
1 tsp black pepper

3 onions
8 tsp ginger-garlic paste
2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tbsp of Kashmiri chilli powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp tumeric powder


6 tbsp tomato paste optional
1 bunch coriander leaves chopped
1 inch ginger julienned

Prep your ingredients as below.

Trim the lamb and cut into 1 inch cubes.

Whisk the yogurt, add almonds, saffron, salt & half the ginger garlic paste & keep in marinade for 2 hours.

Pound the whole spices for the gharam masala in a pestle – mortar or use a coffee grinder.

Peel & slice the onions thin.

Wash & finely chop the coriander leaves, wash & scrape the ginger and cut into julienne.


Heat the oil in a heavy bottom pan, add the pounded gharam masala spices and stir till spices start to crackle.

Add the sliced onions, stir & cook till golden brown.

Add the lamb with the marinade, stir & cook till meat is browned and keeping till its half cooked.
When the lamb is added, lamb will shed the excess of moisture and will cook in its own stock.

When the liquid has almost gone add the dry powdered spices and cook for about 5 minutes.
Stir frequently.
Once the meat is covered in spices and cooking it will tend to get stuck at the bottom, keep stirring by scraping at the bottom, which is important for the characteristic development of the flavours. We call this process to ‘bhuna’.

Add the tomato paste stir and continue to cook slow, covered on med low flame until the lamb is fully cooked. If there isn’t much liquid in the pan, you can some water or lamb stock.

When your meat is cooked you should have tender meat, a dryish dish as Rogon Josh traditionally is.

Serve it in bowl, garnished with coriander & ginger julienne.

Rogan Josh can be served with saffron rice, plain or any type of flat bread!

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