For me the most delightful gastronomic invasion of any country was that of the Mughals from Persia who invaded India and brought with them the most delicious array of perfumed rice and pilau recipes coupled with tender meat kebabs, roasted meats in luscious spiced gravies. They left their indelible mark in Kashmir, where the delicious practise of the Wazwan, a multi course feast (the original tasting menu) was perfected and still performed in palatial wooden houseboats across mirror lakes and in villages scattered through valleys. Rogan Josh loosely translates as ‘oil or butter’ and ‘meat’ often lamb is used and the personality of the dish is fragrant, aromatic, warming, deep and textured (not blisteringly hot). The combination of earthy flavours including black cardamom, cinnamon and cumin seeds is a heady blend. it’s a far cry from the commoditised versions often available these days. This Rogan Josh recipe is an ode to the original, a respectful nod to its Mughal ancestor, once tried and tested it’ll make an oath with your spice buds never to return to the imposters.
- 2 black cardamom pods
- 8 green cardamom pods
- 6 cloves
- 5cm/2in cinnamon stick
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 5-8 mild Kashmiri dried chillies or 1 tsp red chilli powder, to taste
- 2 tbs ginger and garlic paste
- 5-6 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee, or a mixture of both
- 800g diced leg of lamb
- 300g whole greek yoghurt (room temperature)
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp fennel powder
- 2-3 tbsp toasted almonds
- handful fresh coriander, chopped
How To Make Rogan Josh
- Using a spice grinder or a pestle and mortar, grind the black and green cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cumin seeds and chillies to a fine powder and set aside.
- In the small bowl of a food processor, whizz together the garlic and ginger with a good splash of water to a purée.
- Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan, add the lamb and brown well for 8-10 mins over a high heat. Add the purée and turn the heat down to medium, stirring constantly, as the mixture begins to reduce. The purée is ready when you see clear oil in the pan, this will take 3-5 mins.
- Stir the room temperature yoghurt well then add half of it to the pan. Cook over a medium-high heat, stirring constantly and briskly, folding the yogurt into the lamb, for 8-10 mins until it has been fully absorbed by the meat. Repeat with the next batch of yogurt, stirring constantly as before. Once it is boiling, turn down to a simmer and stir occasionally until it has reduced by about a third.
- Add the masala powder and ground coriander and some seasoning.Cook for a few mins, stirring continuously, then cover with a lid and leave over a low heat for 1 hr 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender. If the sauce looks dry, add a splash of water.
- Now add the garam masala, fennel powder and some black pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then cook for 1 min. Sprinkle over the toasted almond flakes, coriander and serve with naan bread, if you like.