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)
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:
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.