It’s been too hot outside lately and my last two blog posts featured easy, simple, fresh and healthy recipes to cool off in this weather. I had another easy, summery recipe lined up for today too. On second thoughts, I felt it was more appropriate to publish a recipe with a bit more substance. Something that’s....mmmm, meaty, classy, unique. Something with a real wow-factor. Like the classic rogan josh I had prepared last week.
I realize I haven’t posted a single red meat recipe on my blog. Until now. Reason? We prefer white meat to red, and mostly don’t cook lamb or beef at home unless there’s a special occasion—that too, once in a blue moon. But last week, with my brother in town, I was in a mood to prepare something sinfully rich and indulgent to enjoy on a warm summer evening. Without further ado, I chose rogan josh. One of my family’s favorite way to enjoy lamb, desi style.
Rogan josh is a fine delicacy from the picturesque state of Kashmir, bordering India and Pakistan, and per book knowledge, it’s equally popular in both these countries. This creamy, rich, spicy, aromatic meat dish has its origin in Mughal cuisine, one of the largest Muslim influences on India.
The curry is prepared with lamb or mutton shoulder, cooked to a tender, succulent texture in a gorgeously rich sauce packed with flavors. Traditionally the dish is prepared in ghee, Indian clarified butter, with the spices fried in fat to awaken flavors and infuse the fat with the essence before adding other ingredients. Yogurt, the foundation of the sauce, gives a lovely tang together with the tomato. Almond adds texture, flavor and also thickens the sauce. There is a bit of heat from the chilies and pepper, too. All in all, the redolent flavors are to die-for. For a glorious, guilty pleasure, serve rogan josh with any flat Indian bread like chappati, paratha, naan—perfect choices for mopping up the rich gravy.
Okay, if you eyeball the ingredients, this might look like a marathon recipe. I know. But this curried dish is the master of flavors -- it shows off the fiery delights of authentic Kashmiri cuisine -- and the end result is well worth the time and efforts. So don’t be intimidated—there’s nothing really difficult about it, and it’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Yes, this comfort food is ideal for sharing. You can even prepare it the night before and simply re-heat, which somehow enhances the taste and flavor, making it a terrific dish for a party.
My first attempt at rogan josh, years ago, was following a recipe from the cookbook that came with Hawkins pressure cooker, my first ever cookbook. This recipe is always a winner, a great crowd-pleaser. Bonus? Delicious, braised lamb is ready in a fraction of the normal cooking time. Pressure cooking is such a blessing!
Lamb Rogan Josh
(adapted from Hawkins pressure cooking recipe book)
2.2 lb (1 kg) lamb shoulder, cut into bite-size chunks
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
16 almonds, shelled
3 brown cardamoms, peeled
¼ teaspoon peppercorns
generous pinch mace
2 tablespoon fresh coconut, grated
5 whole dry red chilies, soaked in ½ cup water for 15 minutes
8 garlic flakes
20 gms ginger
generous pinch nutmeg, grated
¼ cup vegetable oil and melted unsalted butter, combined
2 bay leaves
2.5 cm cinnamon stick
8 green cardamoms, slightly crushed
2 medium onions, grated
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tablespoon Kashmiri red chili powder
¾ cup yogurt, beaten
4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 cup water
In a pan, over low heat, dry roast coriander, cumin, poppy seeds, almonds, brown cardamoms, peppercorns, cloves, mace and coconut, together, until fragrant and lightly colored, taking care not to overbrown or burn the spices. Allow the spices to cool and tip into a blender along with the red chilies, ginger, garlic and nutmeg. Add water in which the chilies were soaked ( ½ cup), little by little, and blend to a smooth, thick paste.
Meanwhile, heat oil and butter mixture over medium heat in a large pressure cooker. Tip in bay leaves, cinnamon and green cardamoms, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add onions and fry over medium-low heat, stirring often, until onions are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Now tip in the ground masala paste, tomato, turmeric and chili powder, and toss well. Let the sauce bubble for 2 minutes.
Stir in yogurt, in tablespoons, and stir-fry until all yogurt is added and the oil separates, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt, and then add the lamb and fry till the meat is slightly browned, for maximum flavor. Top with 1 cup water and stir well to combine.
Now, close the cooker and bring to full pressure on high heat (the cooker whistles when it reaches full pressure). Then reduce heat and cook for another 10 minutes. Take off heat and allow to cool naturally.
Once completely cool, open the lid and skim off the excess fat settled on the top, if you like. Mix well and then return to heat, uncovered, to reduce if the sauce is too thin. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the sauce is reduced and thickened slightly. Add more seasoning if needed.
Serve sprinkled with coriander leaves and a red chili on top, if you like, next to a soft pillow of naan or kerala poratta; ghee rice or plain rice. Lovely.
PS: For some reason, my recipe index page is acting up and I’m not able to update the contents. Sorry for the inconvenience this may cause you. No matter what I do, the formatting gets screwed and the hyperlink does not work, how weird! Looks like another system glitch—will have to report to blogger perhaps. Is anyone facing similar problems? So, kindly bear with the incomplete recipe list until I figure out a solution. Thanks for your patience with me!