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In memory of Sunanda Pushkar Menon

My memories of Rogan Josh takes me back to my Dubai days with my boss and friend Sunanda Pushkar Menon. She was a proud Kashmiri and would present her Rogan Josh at every potluck gathering. We used to joke that she didn’t know how to make anything else, but now I realize that it was with great pride as a Kashmiri that she wanted to share her precious culture with us. Sadly Sue passed away very tragically a few years ago. I didn’t learn how to make this till many years later, but I still always associate Rogan Josh with the memory of Sue. RIP

According to my research, this was brought to India from Persia but the Moghuls. They used to come to Kashmir during the hot months to stay cool. The original recipe was made with Onions, Garlic & Tomatoes. Over time and with all the religious turmoil in the region, the Hindu Pandits made their own version and omitted the Onion, Garlic and Tomatoes. This version is most popular today although the Muslims still make a version using Onions, Garlic & Tomatoes.


Rogan means fat and Josh means to stew or slow cook so the literal translation means slow cooked meat in fat. Josh also mean enthusiastic or power and Gosht means meat so it could be derived from that word too.


Lamb is preferred for this recipe although Mutton is widely available and used in many recipes as well. The key ingredients are fennel, ground ginger and asafetida or Hing. The meat is slow cooked in spices and yogurt till tender. The famous red coloring of a Rogan Josh comes from the Alkanet Root called Ratan Jot. This when infused in hot oil leeches this amazing natural red color.

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Rogan Josh


  • Piece of Ratan Jot
  • 1/2 hot oil for infusing
  • 1 lb bone in Lamb chunks
  • 5 Kashmiri Chilies, de seeded and soaked overnight in hot water
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 2 inch stick of Cinnamon
  • 5 cardamoms
  • 3 black cardamoms
  • 2 tsps Fennel seeds
  • 8 cloves
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • Pinch of saffron
  • ½ tsp Turmeric
  • Juice of a Lime
  • ½ cup of Mustard oil,
  • Whole spices: bay leaf, cinnamon and cardamom green and black and some fennel seeds
  • 1 cup stirred yogurt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp ground ginger powder
  • ½ tsp of Asafoetida or Hing
  • Salt


  1. Add the Ratan Jot to a bowl and pour ½ cup of hot oil on it and leave it to infuse
  2. Make a spice powder but processing the cumin, cinnamon, cardamons green & black, fennel seeds, cloves, black peppercorns, saffron & turmeric
  3. Add the soaked red chillies and the juice of a lime and a little of the water that the chillies were soaked in to make a nice paste
  4. Add half of that spice paste with some salt to marinate the meat
  5. Heat the mustard oil till it starts to smoke and add the meat, brown on one side and flip
  6. Reduce the heat and add the rest of the spice blend
  7. Add the yogurt
  8. Add 1 cup of water to the food processor and add that in as well
  9. Add the Ginger powder and Asafoetida
  10. Cook low and slow for about an hour stirring frequently
  11. Add the Ratan Jot infusion halfway through the cooking process