Last week when I decided to cook Mutton Rogan Josh I found that it was as disputed as Park 51 if not more. There were several manifestations of the dish depending on where you came from.None radically different from each other but differing in subtleties that was enough to cause mayhem. Every one looked down upon the other Rogan Josh and there was much confusion about the authentic version.
For all you know Rogan Josh could be God.
From the several sites I visited I could narrow it down to the following.
Not God, Rogan Josh !
1. Authentic Rogan Josh -- This is the version created by the Kashmiri Brahmins, a clan who ruled India after the Mughals and Brits. Kashmiri Brahmins have the same food philosophy as Bengali Brahmins and are happy to eat meat as long as it is made satwik way with no onion or garlic. This version of the Rogan Josh has no onion or garlic but has Hing/Asafoetidia. The red color of the dish is brought by a root known as "Ratan Jot" found only in the Kashmir Valley. Recipe is here and here and here...
2. British Indian Rogan Josh -- This is the version created by HaraCurry Singh Patak in Glasgow, UK. This version was cooked like any other mutton dish with onion, garlic, ginger and tomatoes in the small galley kitchen but was given a brand new name. It was made mild so as not to upset the Brits who loved curry and HaraCurry. Soon it became popular among Indians and non-Indians living abroad and depending on the heat tolerance quotient(HTQ) of the clients the dish was made Red with Red Chili Powder, Red with Kashmiri Mirch or Orange with Food Coloring, the last being the most popular.
3. North Indian Rogan Josh -- Exactly same as British Indian Rogan Josh, made popular in Delhi by HaraCurry Singh Patak's second cousin Dhaba Singh Telwala. The cousins share the exact same recipe and this version only differs in the amount of oil floating on top of the dish. Grease being not a problem in India and available cheap the chef uses all kinds in this dish.
4. South Indian Rogan Josh -- This recipe was a novel creation by Swami Idli Iyer who had fallen in love with this dish on his tryst with the Brits in the late 1940's. Swami never told his mother Rasam Amma that he ate meat, smoked tobacco and never took his meals at Chennai Tiffin while in London.Instead he told her Rogan Josh-a was made with Jackfruit and was offered as Prasadam at the Balaji temple in UK. His version has fragrant curry leaves and grated coconut and is popular in Udupi restaurants.
5. Bengali Rogan Josh -- This version was created by Mishti Kumro Mukherjee who on her visit to Delhi was as impressed by the height and physique of the Punjabis as she was with the Red Fort. She took to feeding her "roga"(thin) son Rogan Josh every day at lunch since she felt that is what made the Paanjabi "mota"(fat translates to strong in Bengali) and not "roga" and also gave them "Josh"(fame & money). She added a good amount of sugar to this dish to make it mishti and marinated the mutton in mustard oil. No news of the son was ever reported.
6. Madhur Jaffrey Rogan Josh-- Whether this version was created by Madam Jaffrey, her mother's cook or a cook at Sitar I cannot tell. This version has onion and garlic but no tomatoes. It is made by people who blog and are not sure of what is the exact way to make Rogan Josh. The recipe is from here and it says Preparation Time :0:00, whatever that means.
*Recipe Number 2 to 5 are partly figments of the author's demented mind who has lots of time on her hand today. They do exist though.
If I am honest and look deep down in my heart and squint through the arteries, blood vessels, muscles and whatever they have there I should tell you that I wanted to make Rogan Josh as per Recipe Number 1. The only reason why Number 1 tilted my favor is it does not have onion. I can go any lengths to not chop an onion. I am lazy that way.
However I was supposed to take the mutton dish to a Bong Picnic and anyone who has been to a Bong Picnic knows how important a role food plays there. Bongs do not play badminton, antakshari, cricket or dumb charade at Picnics. They eat and chat and eat in a vicious cycle. I couldn't take risks at such a place. I have never cooked mutton sans onion & garlic. If my mutton dish faltered, I could as well be ousted and denied the Luchi, Alur Dom, Lyangcha which also featured on the menu. So I chose recipe Number 6, simply because of the brand name which backed it.
Recipe Number 6 was actually great. Even the measures worked perfect. I however added Fennel seed Powder from Recipe 1 to this one because I thought it would give this dish the unique flavor. In the end it was not a whole lot different from any other mutton curry but it definitely was one more great mutton curry. Go cook your own version of Mutton Rogan Josh or just follow this one. If you don't eat mutton substitute with chicken or jackfruit(kathal), really.
Mutton Rogan Josh
This is an easy dish to cook and the only factor is time taken to cook the mutton. Do not use pressure cooker to cook the meat, the flavor comes out only on slow cooking.
What You Need
Mutton(Goat meat) or Lamb ~ 2 &1/2 lb, shoulder or front leg cut in medium pieces
Marinate the meat for 2-3 hours in 1 tsp ginger paste, 1 tsp garlic paste, 2 tsp vinegar or lime juice, a little turmeric and salt
Fresh Ginger peeled and chopped ~ 2"
Garlic ~ 8 fat cloves
Onion ~ 2 cups finely chopped
Yogurt ~ 6 tbsp
Oil for Cooking
Spices in Gravy
Cumin powder ~ 2 tsp
Corriander Powder ~ 1 tsp
Fennel Seed Powder ~ 2 tsp
Kashmiri Mirch ~ 1 tsp or more to get the coloring
Red Chili Powder ~ 1/2 tsp to start and then to taste
Pepper powder ~ 1/4 tsp
Garam masala ~ 1/4 tsp
Green Cardamom/Choti Elaichi ~ 6-8 pods
Black Cardamom/Badi Elaichi ~ 2 pods
Bay Leaf/Tej Patta ~ 2 small
Clove/Laung ~ 6 whole
Whole Black peppercorn/Kali Mirch ~ 10 whole
Cinnamon/Dalchini ~ one 2" stick
Mace/Javetri ~ 1/2 tsp
How I Did It
Marinate the mutton as instructed for 2-3 hours in 1 tsp ginger paste, 1 tsp garlic paste, 2 tsp vinegar or lime juice, a little turmeric and salt
Put the ginger, garlic and very little water in a blender and blend well into a smooth paste.
Heat White oil in a wide, heavy pot over a medium-high flame. Add the meat in a single layer and saute till they are browned. Add a dash of Kashmiri Mirch while frying the meat. Remove and set aside.
Temper the same oil with all spices listed under tempering. Wait a few seconds for the spices to sizzle.
Now add the onion. Fry the onions to a medium brown color.
Add the ginger-garlic paste that you made and saute for the next minute or so.
Now add the dry spices the Cumin Powder, Corriander powder, Fennel powder, Kashmiri Mirch and red Chili Powder. With a sprinkle of water fry the masala till you see oil separating from the edges.
Now add the browned meat cubes along with the meat juices. Mix well so that the meat is coated with the masala. Now lower the heat and put in 1 tablespoon of the yogurt and stir and fry for about 30 seconds until yogurt is well blended. Add the remaining yogurt, a tablespoon at a time in the same way. Stir and fry for another 3-4 minutes at low heat.
Add 1&1/2-2 cups of water and salt to taste. Mix everything well, scraping the sides and bottom of cooking pot. Bring the gravy to a boil.Check to see if salt and red chili powder is in correct amount. If you need it more hot add more chili powder.
Cover, turn heat to medium-low and simmer for about an hour or two until meat is tender. Every 10 minutes give the pot a good stir to prevent burning. If the gravy is becoming too dry add some more water.
When the meat is tender, take off the lid, turn the fire to medium high and boil off some of the excess liquid, stirring all the time, until the sauce is thickened.
Sprinkle the garam masala and black pepper over the dish and mix them in just before you serve it.
Trivia: Rogan means oil in Persian, while josh means heat, hot, boiling, or passionate. Rogan josh thus means cooked in oil at intense heat. Another interpretation of the name rogan josh is derived from the word rogan meaning color and josh meaning passion, hot or red. So this is a meat dish which is red in color.