Lamb Rogan Josh



Sinfully Spicy: Lamb Rogan JoshMany days I need something different, not the usual preparation but an equally aromatic and meaty curry but without the typical onion-garlic- tomato masala. The rogan josh delivers. Rogan (fat) from the lamb and josh (intensity) from the kashmiri red chillies, combined with the warming flavors of ginger, fennel & hing, each morsel of this kashmiri dish with origins in Persia is a true delight.The spice selection is different than the usual turmeric or coriander and its a much needed change at dinner time.You can easily do it wrong by choosing a lean meat (like chicken) for making rogan josh.It is not rogan josh unless the meat cooks in its own fat plus the aromatic & bold infusion of whole black cardamoms, bay leaf and sharp indian cinnamon or cassia bark to develop a robust, distinctive taste.

This recipe comes from my aunt, a true blue Kashmiri. To tell you the truth, I had eaten it all wrong before I ate rogan josh prepared by her. My first time was some six years back, and while the meat cooked on the stove, I could tell that it did not smell like the usual curries which we are used to eating in our homes,the strong liquorice aroma of fennel & smoky chillies permeating the atmosphere of the house till quite a few hours later.The vibrant red hue of the dish was indicative of  its essential character, of royalty, of feast. Last month, I tried the recipe she told me over the phone twice, it didn’t come out great the first time. I over did the ginger, but the second time it was insanely good. ‘You could use a few spoons of thin dahi (yogurt) if you like, but it’s not necessary, water will do’, she tells me.In addition, she briefs me about using ground fennel the way I would use coriander powder in day today north indian recipes.Using mustard oil is the authentic route but since its not a popular oil in the west, I would say substitute with any neutral oil in this recipe if you do not get it.



No tomatoes, no garlic, no onion and no ready to use garam masala (please). These are not used in kashmiri rogan josh. The finished braised dish is more of meat chunks coated in oily flavors than a thin gravy or sauce.It is supposed to have oil separating on the plate from the meat chunks when you serve.Mop that oil with roti or soak some basmati in it.It taste unique and smells fragrant. Your tastebuds will take a while to adjust to the fennel if you are a heavy coriander eating person like me, but then it gets addictive. Many a times, dried kashmiri chillies are soaked in water, ground to a paste and then used to make rogan josh but I think, the dry kashmiri chill powder works fine too. Traditionally,ratanjot spice is used for the intense red color but trust me it’s not easy to find outside India.

Ingredients (Serve 2-3)

  • 1.5 lb (boneless) lamb shoulder, cut into 2 ” chunks ( or mutton or beef)
  • 1/2 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2.5 tbsp plain whole milk yogurt (not greek)
  • 5 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • scant 1/2 tsp hing (asafoetida)powder
  • 1 small tejpatta (indian bay leaf)
  • 5 green cardamom, cracked open
  • 1 black cardamom, cracked open
  • 1.5 – 2 tbsp kashmiri mirch powder (or use 1.5 tbsp paprika)
  • 1/4 tsp ginger powder
  • 1.5 tsp powdered fennel seeds
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne, adjust to taste)
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • scant pinch of saffron (optional)
  • fresh cilantro for garnish

To be dry roasted

  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 whole cardamom
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon (cassia bark)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 small blade mace

Notes :

  1. Traditionally mutton is used in the preparation of rogan josh. If you get it where you live, go ahead and use that meat. I used lamb since I do not get good quality mutton or goat meat where I reside. 
  2. Fresh ground fennel is really strong. I usually grind the fennel a day ahead and leave covered on countertop. If you use fresh ground do not use more than 3/4 tsp or maybe less.
  3. The rogan josh is supposed to have little or no gravy. So do not add too much water. It is supposed to have an oil separating from the meat chunks when you serve.You will need a soupy side dish or gravy if you plan to serve it with steamed rice.
  4. Substitute mustard with any neutral oil.

Method

Rub the lamb pieces with 1/2 tbsp mustard oil and salt. Set aside for 20 minutes. In a small bowl, thin out the yogurt with 2-3 tbsp of water. Mix to a smooth consistency. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot, heat up the mustard oil.Mustard oil needs to be heated more than the usual oil to do away the raw smell. Heat till you see that the oil turns pale from its deep golden color. Reduce heat to low. Add the cumin and hing. Wait for the aroma. About 5-7 seconds. Add the marinated lamb. Bump up the heat to medium Stir around so that the lamb pieces are coated in oil. You will seed that in 1-2 minutes the lamb will start changing color. Add the green & black cardamom. Stir for another 1-2 minutes.

Now, reduce the heat to low. Add the kashmiri chilli powder a teaspoon at a time and immediately add a splash of thin yogurt.Stir around gently.Do this till all the chili powder and yogurt are exhausted, adding yogurt at the last. Continue on low heat so that the yogurt does not curdle and the chili does not burn.If you feel that the pot is way too hot, take off the stove for a while and return back.After about 2 minutes, bump up the heat to medium and add the ginger powder, ground fennel, red chili powder and salt.Str around, you will see a lot of liquid in the pot but that’s okay. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Let simmer covered on low heat for about 1 hour and 10 minutes (or more, depending on how big the meat pieces are) till the lamb is almost 95% cooked.  You will need to check the pot 3-4 times in between to ensure that it is not sticking to the bottom, you can add a splash of water if needed.

While the lamb is cooking , in a small pan dry roast the spices listed under ‘to be roasted’ for a minute or less. Transfer to a coffee grinder or mortar & pestle and coarsely grind. Once the lamb is 95% cooked, add these spices to the pot, add about 1/2 cup water and cover again. Let simmer for another 20 minutes till the lamb is cooked through.

Let sit for 40 minutes before serving. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Methi Ke Parathe (Fenugreek Leaves Flatbread)



I love hot,straight from the griddle flatbreads.With a dollop of butter and chai (tea) on side, the taste is better than the best foods around. Growing up, in my badi mummy’s (grandma) house, winters were a season for parathas of all sorts.On few days we would just feed on stuffed parathas for dinner with home churned white butter and pickled vegetables.It was a simple meal, yet very satisfying. My grandmother used to make parathas with dough kneaded just when it was time to roll the bread,sometimes stuffing the stretchy, gluten layers with shredded mooli (daikon) or spiced crumbled cauliflower, and, a lot of times with the winter greens mixed in to hide but form a robust & flavorful dough. All the greens and vegetables came from the house grown patch, of which I have talked about a lot in my previous posts.On days when the power was out, she would ignite angithis (small clay containers of fire) in the verandah,repeatedly waving old newspapers in front of the glowing coal pieces. If the potatoes were plenty from the yard, they were put as it is inside the gusto of the brazier. We sat around the heated fire,wrapped in sweaters and shawls,our faces lighted by the flickering candles,soaking warmth of the burning charcoal, chit chatting and tearing bites from the fresh made hot parathas. A few potatoes were taken out, smashed with fork, a drizzle of ghee, salt & chill powder and a rustic side was ready.With each morsel,wafted a aromatic steam smelling of garlic, fenugreek and warm spices. Many winter evenings were spent like this, no invertors or generators, a pre convenience era you would say.

Making rotis or parathas is such an everyday thing for me. I make flatbreads of some kind each single day, it never feels like a chore, it is such a happy routine. I fail to understand when people say its too much work.They say when you love something you embrace it as joy. Maybe because I am used to it that I secretly enjoy it or I cook because I care.If you have dough in the refrigerator,its a matter of minutes to get the bread together.

The approach of spring season is usually indicative of the end of methi season.To me it leaves behind a similar departed feeling of sorts when fresh tomatoes start vanishing at the knock of fall. I love methi leaves, I am addicted to them, sometimes I specially go to the store just to pick them, they are part of our weekly menu- they are so flavorful, addictively bitter and so good for you. I am yet to spot fresh methi leaves in non- indian grocers here in the States so you will have to make a visit to indian grocery to get these.However, few of my friends compare its taste to fresh watercress sometimes.I haven’t tried the substitution but this recipe can very well be used for any kind of greens you like – think finely shredded rainbow chard, think tucson kale or think good ol’spinach (the cooking variety).

I roll the flatbreads both as triangles as well as well in the usual circle shapes. The triangle one needs more oil to be brushed inside layers and definitely comes out much more soft & flaky.You can refer to a previous post on step by step for making triangle paratha. The husband prefers those. But you could do any way. Circles or triangles – they taste awesome!

These methi parathas are so easy to make.Throw everything together and knead the dough.They are soft, flaky and packed with taste and nutrients. Let the dough sit in the refrigerator for no more than a day or two and make them to go along with meals or just enjoy rolled up like a cigar all on its own with a cup of chai. I would recommend making them before this winter season goes away.

Ingredients (Makes 8)

  • 1.5 cup packed fresh/frozen methi (fenugreek leaves, see notes on other greens that can be used)
  • 1.25 cup atta (whole wheat flour)
  • 1/3 cup besan (fine chickpea flour)
  • a generous pinch of hing (asafetida powder)
  • 1/8 tsp ajwain (skip or substitute with celery seeds)
  • heaping 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3-4 tbsp neutral oil
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 1 scallion(spring onion) stalk, green & white parts finely chopped
  • 3 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2-3 green chillies, finely chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup water (or as required, see recipe)
  • Canola Oil for griddle frying (about 2 tbsp per paratha)

Notes 

  1. You can refer to a previous post on triangle paratha on how to shape the flatbreads.
  2. If you want to roll parathas in circles, refer to previous post on rotis on how to do that.
  3. If you do not get fresh methi leaves in the area you live,look for the freezer aisle. They stock frozen methi there. You can use that in this recipe after thawing it and squeezing excess water out.
  4. Important :- Make small batches of this dough.Its gets sticky and soft as it sits and the vegetables start leaving water from the salt. I do not keep it for more than 2 days. The taste changes after a couple of days. You can half the recipe if you want.
  5. This recipe can very well be used for any kind of greens you like – think chard, think tucson kale or think good ol’spinach (the cooking variety).

Method

Pick the methi leaves from stems. Discard the stems and wash the methi leaves under running water so that all the dirt is washed away. Rinse the leaves well. Drain them completely.You don’t need to dry them out but ensure that the are not watery. Use a paper towel if needed. If you are using the frozen variety, squeeze water from the leaves and finely chop the methi leaves. Set aside.

In a wide dish or paraat, mix together flours, ajwain, hing and turmeric. Start adding oil a tablespoon at a time and working in the flours to incorporate. Add the chopped methi leaves next along with onions,scallions, garlic, cilantro, ginger and green chillies. Mix together.

Add little water at a time and knead to a smooth dough. As the flour absorbs water,it will start clumping up into a ball.Continue to add water till all the dry flour becomes wet, your hands will be mighty messy but the flour will come together.Remember not to add too much water at a time.Use your knuckles to flatten the dough out and then pull it all together towards yourself, using your palm & fingers, then knead again with knuckles to flatten out. Knead this way (flatten and bring together) repeatedly for 7-8 minutes. At any point you feel that the flour is tight or drying out, add a light splash water (but not too much)Towards the last 1-2 minutes of kneading, use both hands to knead for a very smooth & elastic dough (this will work up the gluten really fast). Once the dough looks and feels really really smooth, cover with a kitchen towel and let rest for (not more than) 20-25 minutes. Keep in mind not to make a very loose dough because as it sits, it will turn softer and sticky. Once kneaded, let rest for 15-20 minutes.

If you are not planning to make parathas right away, place the dough into an air tight container with lid and refrigerate.

When ready to make parathas, uncover and divide into equal portions. Take each dough portion between palms of your both hands and roll to make as smooth balls as possible. Flatten the balls. Get some loose atta on to the dish. Its time to make roll!

Roll and cover each ball in the loose atta and place on a smooth rolling stone or pastry board or kitchen surface. Flatten out lightly on edges using tips of your finger. Using a rolling-pin, start rolling the dough to a flat circle.Dust the board as and when required when rolling. Initially, you will need to dust more but it will get easier as you continue.Using a rolling-pin, roll the ball into a circle 2.5″ in diameter. Brush a little ghee/oil on the rolled out circle.After brushing the ghee, fold into a semi-circle.Brush the ghee on the semi-circle and fold again to form a triangle.Sprinkle the top with more flour and carefully with the help of rolling-pin, roll out until its 1/8″ thick. Note: While you are rolling out, you will need to flip over, dust flour etc and be gentle to keep the shape intact.You will not get a neat triangle shape but thats how it is.

Spread some oil on the heated tawa/griddle.Carefully lift the rolled out dough with your hands and place on the tawa.Let cook for 2 minutes on medium heat and then flip over using a spatula.Using a spoon,spread 1 tablespoon oil thoroughly on the first side while the second side is cooking.Flip again and repeat brushing oil on the second side.Cook both sides till you see small brown specks and smell the aroma of cooked dough. In some cases the paratha will fluff up while cooking.Dont worry you did a good job if that happens. Be careful of the escaping steam though.

Once cooked & golden brown on both sides, remove from griddle using a spatula & transfer to cooling rack to cool slightly so that they donâ€t become soggy , later you store them in a box lined with dry cloth or paper towel.

Serve warm with pickle, curries, salad or raita.

Aloo Jhol-Poori (Spicy Potato Curry & Fried Puffed Flatbread)



Long railway journeys.Picnics.Lunch.Festivals.Breakfast.Street Side Eating.Snacks.Dinner. Name the occasion and ‘poori‘, this deep-fried,unleavened bread has been my companion. Thin, thick, staining fingers with oil, flavored with ajwain(carrom seeds)or not,crispy, soft – this little puffy bread  has been a steady thing in our kitchen, bringing us comfort and gluttony(sigh!).I could trade saturday pancakes for these, for they will bring the same deliciousness to the table.

Poke your finger to puncture that crispy skin on top, bloated from the heat of deep-frying and chew on it. Combine it with a spicy potato slurry or jhol and you have an overdose of carbohydrates,but, trust me you could feel bad before eating these or after, but, never ever while eating jhol-poori.It is not a that healthy,’superfood’ thing, but most good things in life bring a fraction (or more) of guilt with them! Or so I think.

Chopped or pureed vegetables like spinach and methi (fenugreek) leaves are many times added to the dough as variations. You could add a lot of or less powdered spices as per your liking. You could even mix up flours – semolina, cornmeal or all-purpose flour to whole wheat flour and fry up. The tastes and texture changes but the dough takes all for there is hardly anything deep-fried which tastes less than lavish. You get what I mean,right?

A hot cup of chai, stale pooris slathered with chutney or pickles rolled into a cigar in hand is how enjoy it the most but traditionally pooris are served with a side – usually a spicy potato based dish(though in many parts they serve with meats and fruit purees too) and essentially achaar(pickle), mango or lime in my grandma’s house.In my family, the side curry is cooked without onion and garlic and I still make it the same .However there are no rules, if my grandma was short on time, she would sometimes slice a few sweet mangoes or so with them. Basically, you get the idea – its is delicious with just about anything.

Jhol Poori is a combination which makes an appearance atleast once a month in our house if not more. In my mums house, this forms Sunday breakfast, every other sunday. While I knead the dough, the pressure cooker hisses and the potatoes boil inside.A quick tempering with simple aromatics-pungent hing(asafoetoda),smoky cumin & turmeric hit the hot ghee followed by tomatoes, green chillies & ginger,awkwardly crumbled potatoes join the pot, simmer for under twenty minutes or so and done. While traditionally jhol is a term used for much thinner, almost water like consistency, we like ours on the thickish gravy side, just go stingy on the amount of water that you add, everything else remains the same.

Aloo Jhol Recipe

Preparation Time :- 30 minutes
 
Cooking time – About 2 hours (Depends on cut, type & size of the meat)
 
Ingredients (Serves 3-4)
 
  • 1 lb stewing mutton/lamb/beef , cubed
  • 2 medium potatoes,peeled & quatered (You can use any potatoes of choice)
  • 2 nos indian bay leaves (tejpatta)
  • 1 ” cinnamon stick
  • 2 medium red onions, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder (or cayenne, adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp jaggery (or brown sugar to taste)
  • 1/4 cup mustard oil (substitute with canola/vegetable/sunflower/grapeseed oil )
  • salt to taste
  • 1.5 cups water
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish
 
For the spice paste:-
 
  • 10-12 whole dry red chillies (I use kashmiri mirch)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 1/4 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds (dhania)
  • 6 whole green cardamom pods (hari elaichi)
  • 4 cloves (laung)
  • 8 black peppercorns (kali mirch)
  • 5 plump garlic cloves
  • 2 ” fresh piece of ginger
  • Water for soaking the spices (about 1/4 cup)
Notes:-
 
Whole Kashmiri mirch lends a rich, deep scarlet color to the gravy without the heat & they are easily available in indian stores. You can de-seed the chillies to reduce heat further.The actual heat in the dish comes from the use of red chilli powder & black peppercorns. However, you can also adjust the amount to tolerance.
 

Method:-

Soak the chillies, cumin , fennel & coriander seeds, cardamom pods, cloves & peppercorns in 1/4 cup water for about 15 minutes to soften. Drain & tip into a blender. Reserve the soaking liquid. Grind the soaked spices along with garlic & ginger to a smooth paste. Use the soaking liquid if required while grinding.

Marinate the cubed mutton in half of the spice paste for 15 minutes.  While the mutton is marinating, heat up the oil in a heavy bottomed pot with lid on high heat till you see ripples on the surface. At this point reduce the heat to medium & wait for 2 minutes. Temper the oil with tejpatta & cinnamon stick. Wait for 15 seconds till you smell the aroma. Next, add the chopped onions to the pot & cook on medium heat with stirring till they turn golden brown.About 8-10 minutes.

Next, reduce the heat to low & add the chopped tomatoes along with the spice paste, red chilli powder & cook the mixture for about 8 minutes, stirring continously till you see oil separating on sides of the pot. At this point,again turn the heat to medium & add the marinated mutton & salt. Saute for 10-12 minutes till the mutton pieces are slightly browned. You will see water from mutton separating at this point but that’s okay.

Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low & let the lamb cook in its own juices till about 90% cooked. For the kind of mutton I used, it took approximately 40 minutes to reach that stage. You can use your slow cooker or pressure cooker also for cooking the mutton. I prefer to cook it lid on.

Add the potatoes & jaggery next along with 1.5 cups of water. Check the salt. Cook covered on low for another 20-25 minutes till the mutton is tender & potatoes are soft but not mushy.

Switch off the heat & let the curry sit covered for atleast 20 minutes or till ready to serve. Garnish with chopped cilantro & serve warm with salad,plain or jeera rice.

Poori Recipe

Poori (Deep Fried Puffed Bread)

Ingredients (Makes 12-14 pooris)

  • 1.5 cups atta (durum wheat flour)
  • 1/2  tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ajwain (carom seeds,optional)
  • 1/2 cup – 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (required while rolling the dough)
  • Oil for deep-frying

Method

In a ‘paraat’ or wide dish, mix flour, salt and ajwain. Adding little water at a time, knead until smooth, 1–2 minutes to make a stiff dough. You can refer to step – step method on kneading  roti dough in my previous post.The dough for poori has to be more firm so add lesser quantity of water.

Once kneaded, there is no need to rest the dough.Divide into equal portions.Roll each portion between palms to make balls(about the size of a lime).

Pour 1/4 cup canola oil in a small bowl. Set about 2 inches of canola oil  for deep frying to heat up in a kadhai or a wide skillet.

Start with 1 ball at a time, dip the ball in bowl of oil,  flatten it lightly on the rolling board and with the help of a rolling-pin, roll into a 3″ or 4″ circle, about 1/8 thick.When you are rolling, you could slather some oil if  dough sticks. It takes practice to get the shape. Even if you donâ€t get perfect rounds its okay, doesn’t affect the taste. When you are rolling the dough you can lift it and move it around to get a round of uniform thickness.

To check the temperature of the oil, pinch a small portion of dough and add it to the oil, it should quickly rise to the top without changing color. If the dough rises slowly or remains at the bottom,wait for the oil to heat up.

Once the oil is hot, fry rolled up rolled dough one at a time, flipping once, lightly pressing with a slotted spoon (else it will not puff up), until puffed and golden brown, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer the fried poori to paper towels to drain. Serve hot.

Thanks for stopping by.