Rogan Josh is a beautiful red-colored, complex-flavored curry dish with Persian origins that’s a staple in Kashmiri cuisine.
I first made this dish after trying it at my favorite Indian restaurant back home in Buffalo. One of my favorite things about Rogan Josh is that because there’s quite a bit of paprika in it, it reminds me of Hungarian Goulash, which my mom cooked frequently when I was a kid. Because of this, even though I never tasted Rogan Josh until I was an adult, its taste always reminds me of my childhood.
My favorite way to eat this dish is with Salad Shirazi, which is a salad comprised of diced cucumber, tomato, onion, and parsley dressed with olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar, and seasoned with salt. I like to add pomegranate arils for sweet/tart flavor, and you can switch it up by using different aromatics like fresh mint, chives, scallion, etc.
It makes a beautiful meal with a little exotic flair! I love trying curries from all over the world; do you have a favorite curry?
Rogan Josh (Kashmiri Red Curry with Meat)
The Mughals, whose cuisine had Persian influences, originally brought this delicious curry to Kashmir. Seeking relief from the summer heat in the Indian plains, the Mughals would travel to Kashmir, which was cooler; along with them they brought knowledge of their favorite recipes with them. (Read more about the history of Rogan Josh on Wikipedia.)
Why is Rogan Josh Called That?
The origin of the name Rogan Josh is somewhat uncertain, as there are multiple reasonable etymologies. The first etymology explanation comes from the word roughan, which means “oil” or “clarified butter” in Persian and Urdu, along with the word juš or josh, meaning “to braise”. Rogan josh would then mean “stewed in ghee”.
Another possible explanation for the origin of the name Rogan Josh is that roghan comes from the Urdu word for “red” or “brown” or the Kashmiri word for “red”, as well as the word for “meat” (gošt or gosht). Rogan josh would mean “red meat”. (Read more about the etymology of Rogan Josh on Wikipedia.)
What is Rogan Josh Made Of?
Traditional Rogan Josh contains red meat, usually lamb or goat. However, I also make it with beef, which is quite delicious. The meat is braised in an aromatic gravy containing garlic, ginger, and spices, including cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. Kashmiri chilies, which have a flavor similar to paprika, give the dish its red color. I had trouble finding Kashmiri chili powder so I used a combination of sweet paprika and cayenne pepper to achieve a close simulation.
As with most regional food, different versions of Rogan Josh include different ingredients. Some recipes call for onion, shallot, and/or yogurt, and sometimes the spices vary. Additionally, some versions of this dish use saffron. Tomatoes are not a traditional component of this dish.
Ingredients in This Rogan Josh Recipe:
- Clarified butter (ghee)
- Beef, lamb, or goat
- Bay leaves
- Sweet paprika
- Coarse kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Beef bone broth
Is Rogan Josh Spicy?
Rogan Josh is a relatively spicy-hot dish (it usually has about a medium spice level). When you’re ordering it at a restaurant you can ask for a milder spice level and some places are able to accommodate. However, when you make this dish at home it’s very easy to adjust the level of spicy heat by adding more or less cayenne pepper to this recipe.
More Delicious Curry-Inspired Recipes to Try:
- Indian-Spiced Chickpea Curry (Chana Masala)
- Indian Butter Chicken
- Panang Curry Red Lentil Soup
- Authentic Chicken Vindaloo
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Rogan Josh (Kashmiri Red Curry with Meat)
- 2 tablespoons clarified butter ghee
- 2 pounds boneless beef lamb, or goat, cut into 1-inch pieces (use 3 to 4 pounds if using bone-in pieces of meat)
- 2 large onions chopped
- 4 to 5 large cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 8 cardamom pods crushed and outer pods removed
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 whole cloves
- 4 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
- 1 cup plain yogurt plus more for serving if desired
- 1 cup beef bone broth
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- Sliced red onion for garnish
- Salad Shirazi for serving (see Note)
- Prepared basmati rice for serving
- Heat the ghee over medium to medium-high heat in a 5-quart pot. When it starts to ripple, sear the meat on all sides, about 5 minutes. Stir in the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook until the onion starts to soften, about 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, paprika, salt, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, black pepper, and cayenne, and fry until the spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Use a wooden spoon to push the beef and onions to one side of the pot. Add 2 tablespoons of yogurt to the empty area, stirring continuously until it blends in; continue this way until all the yogurt is added.
- Add the beef bone broth, bring the mixture up to a boil, and then put a lid on it, turn it down to a simmer, and let it cook until the meat is tender and the curry is thickened, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the cloves and bay leaves, and taste and season with additional salt and black pepper.
- Garnish with cilantro and red onion, and serve with Salad Shirazi and prepared basmati rice.
- Salad Shirazi: This is basically a salad made of diced cucumber, tomato, onion, and parsley dressed with olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar, and seasoned with salt. You can add pomegranate arils or other aromatics (like fresh mint, chives, scallion, etc.) to suite your preferences.
Update (January 8, 2017): I made this dish again and snapped a few pictures, so I decided to update the photos in this post. As a point of comparison to show how much my photography has evolved, I kept one of my original photos (below).
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