The History Of Rogan Josh And The Reason For Its Popularity
Image Credit: Image Credits- Unsplash

Kashmir stood as a beloved spot for the Mughal Rulers. For those who've experienced or plan to visit this stunning place, the architecture and food resonate with Mughal influences. Often dubbed the 'Switzerland of India,' Kashmir offered the Mughals an escape from the routine politics of Delhi. Their presence sparked a unique culinary style in the region, drawing inspiration from Iranian and Iraqi flavours and harmonising with the local spices found in Kashmir.

The History of Rogan Josh

Rogan Josh has its roots in Persia. "Rogan" in Persian means clarified butter, while "Josh" stands for cooking meat at high heat. When this dish travelled to Kashmir through the Mughals, it adapted to the region's spices and cooking style. This stew is made from mutton or lamb, and surprisingly, it became a hit with the Kashmiri Brahmins, a unique group who don't usually eat meat as part of their culture.

Although Kashmiri Brahmins are known for consuming meat, they have an aversion to the consumption of onions and garlic. This is the reason why authentic Rogan Josh among Kashmiri Brahmins is cooked without using either onions or garlic. Instead, they flavour it with fennel seeds and hing, enhancing the lamb's taste.  

On the other hand, the Mughal version consists of ginger and garlic in huge quantities. "Rogan" means red in Kashmiri, and many historians believe that the name of the dish may refer to the use of Kashmiri Lal Mirch, which gives the dish its colour. Rogan Josh gets its colour from the liberal use of Kashmiri Lal Mirch in the dish.

Rogan Josh is a vital dish in Wazwan, part of the 36-course traditional Kashmiri feast. Alongside dishes like rista, aab gosht, and gushtaba, it's one of the seven mainstays of this feast introduced in the 14th century in Kashmir.

Image Credits- Unsplash

Why is Rogan Josh So Popular In Kashmir? 

The interesting thing about the Mughal version of rogan josh is its different boiling process and the use of specific kinds of meat. In the Mughal version, lean goat ribs and shallot variants called pran are specifically used. The Muslim variant also uses a lot of chillies and peppers. In most households, Rogan Josh is either consumed with wheat roti or butter naan. The high use of spices is beneficial in the cold winters of Kashmir, as it helps keep the body warm. 

To make the flavour more Indian, lots of yoghurt is also added to the recipe. The yoghurt is also useful in making the flavour of the Rogan Josh more neutral, as the spices used are very prominent. Hing is the most dominant flavour in the Kashmiri Brahmin version of Rogan Josh since the use of a lot of spices and onions is not allowed.

The popularity of Rogan Josh can be attributed to the fact that it is a very tasty lamb curry that is a combination of intense spices. The cooked lamb is very tender, and the gravy is flavourful. When served hot, it is probably the best dish that you can ask for on a harsh winter night in Kashmir. Also, the aroma of the dish is so tempting that one can't resist having it. The dish has also become very popular in Western countries like the UK and the US. These countries have made their own alterations to the recipe.

How To Make Rogan Josh?

There are a lot of ways that you can make this spicy lamb curry. There are traditional recipes and modern recipes. Also, you can choose to make it the Kashmiri Brahmin way or the Mughal Way. This is a simple recipe that you can follow by using the ingredients that are already available in your home.

Video Credits- Chef Ranveer Barar

Mutton Rogan Josh Recipe


500g mutton (goat or lamb)

4 tablespoons of plain yoghurt

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

2 tablespoons ghee

Spices (as per taste)

2 tablespoons tomato and onion puree

2 tablespoons of ginger-garlic paste

1 tablespoon Kashmiri Lal Mirch or red chilli powder

Water as needed


Marinate the Mutton:

In a bowl, mix mutton with yoghurt, salt, and lemon juice. Marinate for at least 2 hours or overnight for better taste.


* Heat ghee in a pan and add your preferred spices. Add the marinated mutton and let it brown.

* Incorporate additional yoghurt and cook for a while.

* Add salt, water, tomato, and onion puree, along with ginger-garlic paste. Sprinkle Kashmiri Lal Mirch or red chilli powder on top.

Slow Cooking:

* Cover the pot and cook on low heat for at least 2 hours until the meat becomes tender.

This homemade version of Rogan Josh may not be entirely authentic, but it's a simple and flavourful way to prepare mutton curry at home using common ingredients.