Mutton Roganjosh, a Kashmiri nonvegetarian curry that has become a staunch favourite worldwide. A rich and flavourful dish with complex flavours from a unique blend of spices and aromatics. Enjoy it with Indian breads or with this Kerala style ghee rice which is my favourite combination.
The best thing about having friends from different regions of the world is that you do not need to rely on Google or random cookbooks especially if you are interested in learning and cooking traditional dishes.
It’s not just about the recipe of a traditional dish, for me….the history is as important as the dish itself. Understanding the reasoning behind a dish, the culture, the practices, the importance of ingredients that go into the dish, the way it is consumed; all of this is what completes the experience of cooking a traditional dish for me.
And that is exactly what I achieved with today’s dish – Mutton Roganjosh.
Mutton Roganjosh is a dish that originated in Kashmir, India but it has become a curry that has spread like wildfire across the world. It was also one of the dishes that surprised and disappointed me when I sampled Indian food in Australia.
I really don’t mind tweaking a recipe to suit individual tastes or incorporate local ingredients but taking away from the real character of a dish and its inherent flavours is not something I approve of especially if it’s a traditional one like mutton roganjosh.
So what do you do? Find yourself a Kashmiri foodie friend who will hunt down the most authentic mutton roganjosh recipe, straight from the roots. A big thanks to you dear, you know who you are.
Now let me come to the ‘disappointed’ bit I was talking about….the variations of roganjosh that I have eaten in the Indian restaurants here are nothing like the real thing. It is as far removed from the original in terms of ingredients, textures and flavours.
Mutton roganjosh is one of the main dishes that forms a part of the Wazwan which is the name given for a traditional multi course meal in Muslim Kashmiri cuisine. This is a meal which is taken very seriously and is a source of pride especially for the waz or the cook (you train for years to become a waz and is most often an occupation that is handed down generations, father to son). It represents the ultimate banquet in the Kashmiri Muslim society and no important occasion is complete without it. And my dear friend has got me this recipe from a waz, himself.
Kashmiri mutton roganjosh is not a very spicy dish; in fact it has very less heat but plenty of flavour from the clever use of spices and aromatics. Kashmiri chilli powder is used in this and for those who don’t know….the kashmiri chilli powder adds a deep red colour to the dish without much heat when compared to the regular Indian red chilli powder which is less on colour and more on heat. It also has smoky undertones, a bit like paprika.
So if you are a curry fanatic and would like to taste the real roganjosh, let’s get cracking…….
- 1 kg mutton with bones
- 2 cinnamon stick
- 4 green cardamom
- 3 black cardamom
- 1 tsp cumin/jeera
- ½ tsp asafoetida/hing/perinkaayam
- ½ cup mustard oil
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- 2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder adjust to heat preferences
- 1 tsp red chilli powder adjust to heat preferences
- 1 tsp dry ginger/saunth powder
- 2 tsp fennel/saunf/perinjeera powder
- 5 shallots/small onion grind to a paste without water
- 4 tbsp curd
- Salt to season
- ½ tsp caraway seeds/shahi jeera
- Wash the mutton well and allow to drain completely in a colander.
- Heat mustard oil to smoking hot in a deep pan or pressure cooker. Remove from heat, cool for 2-3 minutes and return to heat.
- Add the whole spices (cinnamon, green and black cardamom and jeera); sauté on low heat for about a minute and then add the mutton pieces.
- Increase heat and lightly fry the mutton pieces till browned well. Keep stirring so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
- Next, lower heat and add the shallots/onion paste and powdered spices (turmeric, red chilli, Kashmiri red chilli, dry ginger and fennel and asafoetida). Add a few drops of water and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
- Whisk the curd well and add to the mutton; season with salt and continue to cook on low heat till the curd breaks down and oil begins to appear.
- Add 3 cups of water and slow cook till the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Stir occasionally and add more water if necessary. If using the pressure cooker, add 2 cups of water and cook for 3-4 whistles depending on the quality of meat.
- Crush the caraway seeds/shahi jeera when the dish is almost done and stir through.
• If you would prefer a deeper red colour to the dish, use ratanjot/alkanet or red chilli water (few spoonfuls). To prepare the red chilli water, soak a few dry Kashmiri red chillies in warm water for an hour, then boil it, grind and sieve (can be stored in refrigerator). I have not used this step for the above recipe.