Lamb Rogan Josh

Curry Paste

You see that picture? That paste took me an hour to make. AN HOUR. That’s about 3 tablespoons right there. Madhur Jaffrey made me fry, roast, crush, chop and grind many spices for this. I knew she was going to and because I am a glutton for punishment I let her and her An Invitation to Indian Cookery treat me like their curry bitch.

Look at this list of ingredients (serves 4):

2lbs boned meat from shoulder of lamb, cubed into 1-inch pieces (note: I boned and cubed a shoulder myself. Meat that you butcher yourself is eleventy billion times cheaper than pre-cubed and it’s not hard)
6tbs vegetable oil
10 whole cloves
1-2 whole dried hot red peppers (optional)
12 peppercorns
6 whole cardamom pods
1tbs ground cumin
2tbs ground coriander
1tbs dessicated unsweetened coconut
3tbs blanched almonds, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
a piece of fresh ginger, about 1-inch cube, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
2 medium onions, peeled and finely minced
3tbs plain yoghurt
3 medium tomatoes (tinned or fresh), peeled and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt

Now I ask you – who the hell looks at this and thinks “Oh yes, no problem. I’ll knock that up for tea, the kids’ll love it”? Well, North Indian women apparently. But apart from them. Who wouldn’t look at that enormous list of ingredients and think “Bugger it, we’ll have pasta”?

But hey, I like a challenge and Lamb Rogan Josh is one of the things Mr B often orders when we go out for a curry. Also, I need to cook this food before I have children and attempting anything of this sort would be madness.

Here are Madhur Jaffrey’s instructions, with my notes:

Wipe the meat well with paper towels .(What? What will that achieve? After hacking my shoulder of lamb into bits, I forgot this bit. It didn’t sem to make much difference.)

Heat the oil in a 10-12-inch frying pan (I have no idea how many inches wide my frying pan is). When the oil is hot, add the cloves, red peppers, peppercorns, and cardamom. Stir them for a few seconds until they puff up and darken (there was no puffing when I did it).

Now put in 7 or 8 pieces of meat at a time to brown. When each lot is brown on all sides, remove with a slotted spoon to a large flameproof covered casserole, taking care to leave the spices in the frying pan (Note: she never mentions the casserole dish again. But I will.). Continue to brown all the meat this way and set aside. Turn off the flame under the frying pan.

You have to roast some spices now, so take out your heaviest iron-type frying pan (I keep a small one just for this purpose) (Oh DO you, Ms Madhur Jaffrey? Well bully for you. I DON’T. I have one other frying pan and that’s it. You’re lucky I’ve got two.). Put the cumin, coriander, coconut and almonds in it. (Using what is, for me, remarkable foresight I had already measured out and prepared these ingredients and had them ready in a little bowl.). Turn heat on medium and roast, stirring for about 5 minutes or until spices turn a coffee colour. Turn off heat and pour roasted spices and nuts into container of electric blender. Add chopped garlic and ginger.(I admit, there was some last-minute chopping done here).

With a slotted spoon, lift out the fried spices in the oil and put them in the blender container too. Add the turmeric, nutmeg, mace and 8 tablespoons water. Blend at high speeds until you have a smooth, thick paste. You may need to stop the blender and push down with a rubber spatula.(I’m not sure why she specifies a *rubber* spatula. As it happens, my only spatula is rubber. Lucky for her. My blender, however, is too big and the blade didn’t mix the ingredients properly. After an abortive attempt with a hand-held blender I accepted that my paste would not be smooth, merely not-lumpy.)

In the same frying pan in which the lamb cooked, fry the onions over a high heat, stirring and scraping up the juices for about 5 minutes, or until they turn dark in spots. Then lower heat to medium and add paste from blender. Stir and fry or another 5 minutes, gradually adding the yogurt, a tablespoons at a time. Put in the chopped tomatoes. Stir and fry for another 2-3 minutes.

Now add 1/2 pint water. Bring the boil. Cover, lower heat and simmer gently for 15 minutes.(Hang on. Cover? I’m using a frying pan. Frying pans don’t have covers. I was foxed. But no! Earlier on there was mention of a casserole dish, in which I have put the meat. So now I had to take the meat out of the cassole dish, stip in the onion, paste, etc and cover and simmer. Most unelegant.)

Put the meat into this sauce. Add the salt and stir. Bring to the boil, cover, lower heat and simmer gently for 1 hour. Stir a few times as it cooks.

Here is how it turned out:

rogan josh

Not the greatest picture I’m afraid. Served with brown basmati rice (low-GI don’tcha know) and dhal (dhal recipe here). The rogan josh was spicey and slightly sweet and the lamb was tender and the whole thing was full of flavour. Mr B and I enjoyed it very much, especially since I had the satisfaction of knowing I created a proper curry from scratch.


24 Responses to “Lamb Rogan Josh”

  1. layla42 Says:

    Good for you! Those recipies always seem a little daunting once you get started–especially anything that involves making your own curry.
    And of course–your additional comments to the standard recipe directions are fab. In fact, it’s similar to the way I talk to recipies….

  2. Kestypes Says:

    Love your blog, love your writing style. Particularly like this entry. I have to confess we buy our Rogan Josh in a box of spices from our local indian deli here in sydney. The amount of ghee required hardens our arteries at the mere thought of it, but it’s delicious.

  3. 101things Says:

    Thanks, glad you enjoy it. Ghee! Ghee brings glee.

  4. Kerryn Says:

    I have half the ingredients in my pantry already and the rest are on the shopping list. I can’t wait for the weekend to make this – it really seems like a weekend recipe. I’ve just found your blog (and wish I’d found it sooner) and have been wandering about for a while. I’ll be coming back 🙂

  5. 101things Says:

    Good luck! It’s certainly a rewarding weekend cooking project. Let me know how it turns out.

  6. Kerryn Says:

    It was fabulous, served with basmati and a chickpea and potato sidedish, and surprisingly didn’t take too long to get simmering away. Thanks to your commentary this was a fun, and rewarding, cooking project.

  7. 101things Says:

    Good! Glad it went well.

  8. karl Says:

    WoW,… what a pain to make. never took on a task like that before!!
    But i will say ,it ripps the taste buds.

  9. Gary Says:

    Stumbled onto this site looking for curry recipies. Plucked up the courage and made this one last night. Tasted excellent and weel worth all the preparation time.

    Mine turned out a little watery so perhaps next time would add only a quarter of a pint of water.

    Cant wait to try out some of your other recpies..

  10. Hugh Says:

    Rogan Josh is my favorite! mmmm…

    Allot of recipes seem to call for frying pans with lids, and I agree I found it an odd concept at first.

    I picked mine up for £12 from IKEA of all places, and it’s the best bloody frying pan I own! I find it especially good for making rice in.

  11. carmenrsmith Says:

    I stumbled accross this whilst searching for a recipe for a weekend gathering. I really laughed at the comprehension test for the recipe.
    I can almost smell it, those roasting toasting spices whirling around. DO you think it would work in a casserole?

  12. madhur jaffrey Says:

    […] and funny recipe from the 101 Things Every Cook Should Cook blog. She suffers so you don’t have to. – Food – Chef biogs – J to LAs an actress, TV presenter and writer, madhur jaffrey has many […]

  13. chris Says:

    you need to wipe the meat so it can sear well. searing keeps the juices intact and leaves the much-desired brown bits in your pan. When liquid is poured after browning the meat, the bits will dissolve giving the dish a highly flavorful sauce. this is a technique called deglazing. I’m not sure if this is how they do it in india but I believe this is typical French. The bits in the pan is deglazed after searing a steak or stewing meat with wine, brandy, stock or simply water. If there is too much moisture in your meat, searing might be difficult at best. hope this helps

  14. Chetan Says:

    Hi..i tried this recipe and it is awesome!!!!! instead of cooking it for 1 hr on low flame i just presure cooked, Rogan Josh was much appreciated by my frnds. Thanks.

  15. Ninotchka Says:

    Thanks so much for both the laughs (love your writing) and the dissection of the recipe. Looking forward to “knocking it up for tea”.

  16. Kirsty Says:

    This recipe is delish and so traditional. thankyou for your post, I now have another curry to add to my list of beauutiful recipes..

  17. jen kitson Says:

    I loved your comments on the way she wrote the recipe because I thought it was me who was a bit thick about the casserole dish & all the frying pans.It has cost me a fortune to buy all these bits to make this ,because my family love it so much.

  18. Richard Clayton Says:

    Yes, but isn’t it good!

    Your entry here reminded me of a friend’s Mum who used to get so inscnsed with Delia Smith’s recipes she used to write acerbic little annotations down the sides of them in very much the same style.

    On one of her programmes Delia rather wonderfully used a Le Creuset pan as a weight to press some salted aubergines she was preparing. “You probably won’t have one of these”, she quips. “You can use a can of beans if you like”. Bless.

  19. Richard Clayton Says:

    inscnsed = incensed, by the way.

    Excellent site, too: Sorry, I failed to mention that didn’t I?

  20. panu Says:

    Hahah, poor you got smucked by Madame Zaffrey. But then, Madhur Zaffrey is definitely not the best Indian cook I have come across. But good for you, you made Rogan Josh. Its really difficult to make and even Kashmiri women who are supposed to be a pro at cooking difficult food go “Yikes” everytime they think it. I much prefer the simple, Bengali curries we make down in Kolkata.

  21. sagato Says:

    hey uz r good at makin food

  22. Anita Says:

    It took u 1 hour?stop moaning woman it takes over an hour to cook currie from scrath!

  23. Pansy Eldred Says:

    I found your weblog website on google and check just a few of your early posts. Proceed to maintain up the very good operate. I simply further up your RSS feed to my MSN Information Reader. Searching for forward to studying extra from you afterward!?

  24. Brian Says:

    Nice blog…but…if you were to provide some-one with a written (step by step!) procedure for safely walking up and down stairs it would read like a very daunting task. Same with recipes. The only complicated bit is building up an inventory of spices and using them before they deteriorate. If you’re not cooking regularly then it’s better to buy premixed; the oppurtunity to vary quantities to taste is however sacrificed. I’ve prepared Madhur’s bhuna and this rogan josh recipe. Not difficult in my opinion and worth the fairly minimal effort.

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