Rogan josh is a popular Indian dish that can be found on almost every menu in every Indian restaurant around the world. Brimming with the flavours of fennel and ginger, and marked by its striking red colour, it is indeed a celebration of all the senses. Although it’s generally seen as a North Indian dish from Kashmir, rogan josh actually has its roots in Persia.
In my version, I’ve added braised lamb to the dish while it is cooking. This allows the lamb to absorb the complex flavours of the sauce. Traditionally no tomatoes are added, not even to enhance colour. Instead, the deep red of the sauce comes from the Kashmiri red chillies, which are not spicy but add the colour.
The cooking process is slow, taking an hour and 15 minutes if you are not using a pressure cooker. You can cook rogan josh over the weekend and store it in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Trust me, the longer you leave it, the better it tastes.
1kg lamb shank
3 tablespoons of oil or clarified butter
2 inch sticks of cinnamon
6 whole cloves
4 black cardamom
3 green cardamom
2 bay leaves
2 large onions, sliced
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
2 tablespoons of red chilli powder
1 teaspoon of fennel powder
1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder
salt to taste
1/2 liter of water
Add the oil or clarified butter to a non-stick, deep pan used for slow cooking. Heat it and add the bay leaves, black cardamom, cloves, cinnamon sticks and green cardamom.
Next add the sliced onions and sautee until they are slightly golden. Add the ginger and garlic paste and cook for two minutes.
Now add the lamb shank and slow cook until the top layer of the meat is white. Add 1/2 a litre of water, salt to taste and stir well. Cover the lid and cook for 35 to 45 minutes.
Take the powdered spices — the red chilli powder, fennel powder and ginger powder — put in a bowl and add 1/4 cup of water to make them into a thin paste.
Add the spice mix to the lamb, stir well, cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes or until the meat is tender and you see a top layer of red spiced oil on the dish. This is the signal that your rogan josh is well cooked and ready to be served.
Riccha Arora runs the Facebook page Sassy Kitchen —facebook.com/arorassassykitchen. You can also check out her website — arorasassykitchen.com