Wednesday, March 10, 2010
"Food smells good. So what's for dinner?"
"Rogan Josh", I say, with just that touch of airiness.
For unlike things like mutton kadhai, rogan josh has that very nice sound to it. Just say it 'Rogan Josh’. Sounds nice, doesn't it?
"Hmmm, it tastes very delicious", he says. "Hate to burst your bubble though, but this is not authentic rogan josh."
I stare at him, murder in my eyes.
"Rogan Josh", he continues, "does not have any onion or garlic or tomatoes, for that matter."
"Really? I can pull out the recipe and prove that this is rogan josh", I claim. "And how", I continue, with a touch of scorn, "Can you be so sure of what rogan josh contains?"
"Because a good friend in college was a Kashmiri Pandit. I have eaten at his place a dozen times. I do know what I am talking about, Kashmiri Pandits don't eat onions or garlic."
I was then convinced that he had a point. And that set me off on a quest for the recipe of the 'authentic' rogan josh. (Of course, my friend was of no help in sourcing the recipe from his friend's mom. He had lost touch with him years ago).
Thank God, they invented google! With help from here and here, this is my version of rogan josh.
And while I am not laying claim to any authenticity, all I can say is when that same friend came over again, he thought that (finally) I had got it right!
Rogan josh has a very flavourful gravy with a very subtle taste from the use of various dry spices. If you are a vegetarian, use baby eggplants in place of the meat; the cooking time for the eggplant will be considerably less.
Goat meat/Lamb: 750 gms
Asafoetida: 1.5 tsps
Dry spice powders - Dried ginger powder, fennel seed powder, coriander seed powder: 1 tbsp each
Kashmiri red chilli powder: 2 tsps
Grated ginger: 1 tsp
Whole garam masala:
Cinnamon: a 2" piece
Cloves: 8 nos
Black cardamom: 4 nos
Green cardamom: 3 nos
Black peppercorns: 6
Yogurt: 3/4 cup (the yogurt has to be at room temperature)
Ghee: 4 tbsps
Salt: to taste
Saffron: 1 pinch, soaked in a tbsp of rosewater
Heat ghee and add the whole garam masala, saute for 30 seconds. Add 3/4 tsp of asafoetida and saute another 30 seconds.
Add 1 tsp of red chilli powder and immediately add the meat, stirring till the pieces are evenly browned on all sides. The meat will leave water, keep stirring till all the water has dried up. This will take about 12-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk all the dry spice powders into the yogurt and add this to the lamb after the water has dried up. Stir till the yogurt has dried up and the masala coats the meat.
Add 2 cups of warm water, the grated ginger, the remaining asafoetida and the salt. Cover and cook on a very low flame till the meat is tender.
Remember we used only half the red chilli powder? Once the meat is cooked, add in the remaining red chilli powder, increase the heat and bring to a rapid boil. Your gravy will now look a fiery red with a thin film of oil on top.
Stir in the saffron soaked rosewater, cover and let the curry rest for a couple of hours so that all the flavours get infused into the meat.
Resist all temptation to cook it in a pressure cook. The flavours come out best when the meat is cooked over low heat. In fact, I transfer mine to a slow cooker when I add the water and cook it for about 5 hrs. Seriously, I do.
Rogan josh has a deep red colour that it gets from the use of ratanjot, a herb grown in Kashmir. If you manage to get some, add a tsp after the meat has cooked along with the remaining chilli powder.
I normally leave the cooked meat overnight in the fridge, I think it tastes better the next day. It also helps in another way - in the fridge, the ghee solidifies. Scoop that out with a spoon before heating.
Forget the rotis and the parathas, rogan josh is best had with plain white rice.
It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!