I broke the cardinal rules of making rogan josh but still managed to make a top notch mutton rogan josh and I am mighty pleased with it. Mutton Rogan josh is a kashmiri delicacy, a spicy, deep and flavourful mutton curry that must undeniably be one of the best mutton curries around, a pride of India. This is probably why it features in most restaurant menus. There are many versions of mutton rogan josh but I liked the authority and confidence with which ecurry proclaimed its rogan josh and I can now vouch for it.
I went ahead and added onions because I wanted more body to the gravy and I guess its ok ‘cos I am not a Kashmiri Pandit (who don’t include onions). Onions were not part of the original recipe. I substituted fresh ginger for dry ginger powder because I couldn’t find the stupid thing in the cupboard although I found 2 boxes of it 2 weeks later when I organized the kitchen. I always seem to have more of the rarely used ingredients but I am never able to find them when I need them in a recipe. Sounds familiar?
Kashmir is famous for its apples, pashmina shawls, silk carpets, dum aloo and mutton rogan josh and militancy. Kashmir the much fought over state, at the northern end of India, one of the most picturesque places in the world and probably one of the bloodiest too features in Roja (directed by Mani Ratnam) an all-time hit and a classic. Mani Ratnam makes everything stylish. Suddenly engineers were sexy and romantic, patriotism was cool and chinna chinna aasais (little whims) were cute and adorable. There’s no girl who didn’t fall for Arvind Swamy in that movie. What a stunner! Ahem.. It’s Kashmir and Mutton Rogan Josh we’re talking about. Everybody wants a piece of Kashmir. Don’t know if everybody can have Kashmir, but everyone can have this mutton Rogan Josh. Follow the recipe exactly and it’s yours.
Mutton – ½ kilo cut into 2 inch pieces
Onions – 3 large thinly sliced (not part of original recipe)
Yogurt – 3/4 cup yogurt + 2 tablespoon yogurt
Lemon juice – from 1 lemon
Asafoetida – ½ tsp
Kashmiri Red chilli powder – 3 tbsp
Garam Masala powder – 1 tsp
Dry ginger powder – ½ tbsp. (I substituted fresh ground ginger because I couldn’t find the silly thing in the cupboard)
Cinnamon – 1 inch
Bay Leaf – 1
Salt to taste
Green cardamom – 2
Black cardamom – 1
Cloves – 4
Fennel seeds – 1 tbsp
Whole black peppercorns – 1 tsp
Oil – 4 tbsp
Fresh coriander leaves – a handful chopped for garnish
1. Marinate mutton with 2 tbsp yogurt, lemon juice and salt for 2 hours or overnight. I marinated for 2 hours.
2. Meanwhile grind together the ingredients under spice powder to a fine powder. Divide the spice powder into 2 portions. Whisk in one half of the spice powder into the cup of yogurt. Add red chilli powder also to the yogurt. Mix well and set aside. Reserve the remaining spice powder.
3. Heat a pan and add oil to it. Throw in the sliced onions and fry till they’re soft and golden brown around the edges but not crisp. Remove the fried onions on to a plate.
4. To the same pan, add the remaining oil and then the cinnamon and bay leaf to it. Add in asafoetida and the reserved ground spice powder. Immediately throw in the marinated meat and mix well to coat. Cook on medium low stirring and scraping often till the meat is browned well – about 15 minutes or so.
5. Add back the fried onions. On low heat, add the whisked spiced yogurt a tablespoon at a time and stir until its completely incorporated. Continue till the entire yogurt is used up.
6. Pour in about 2 cups of water, cover and cook on low till the meat is cooked through and tender and the oil has separated. Taste and adjust salt. Stir in the garam masala powder and simmer for a couple of minutes.
7. Switch off. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or rotis.