Lamb Rogan Josh

I grew up with this deliciousness. As a full-time working woman throughout her life, my mum has been the greatest inspiration for me. I still think that managing kids like us was a big deal, and my mum has done it so well in every sense... I can't imagine myself to be like that. Apart from everything else, she has been a die-hard cook from the very beginning, and experimenting with new dishes has always been her hobby. Even when I speak with her now, she gives me very interesting tips almost every time. 

I am lucky to have written down some of my mum's recipes, although there are still many more to find. This recipe is very close to my heart and it really hits the spot, especially when the amalgamation of spices involved is so unique.

All mums' recipes are treasure troves of culinary secrets. Their recipes always remind us of them and the flavours and aromas linger on in our minds and hearts wherever we go. I haven’t met a single person who hasn’t once said that one of his/her favourite foods/dishes is his/her mum's creation or recipe. 

I love working while travelling and seeing different parts of the globe. I love tasting the world, the assorted cuisines of the countries and towns I have visited. However, I still think my mum’s cooking is the best, and probably most people think the same for their mums. It brings me back gorgeous memories of growing up, reminds me of my roots and the time I spent with my family.

My mum never made this dish in a pressure cooker - it was always cooked in a heavy-bottomed pan - and she used to seal the lid with some kneaded flour ('Dum' style - a very common technique in indian cooking. This technique is more than 200 years old... you can read more about it on Google) and slow cook mutton (goat meat) in it's own juices for a couple of hours. The mutton would slowly, gently, get cooked, imbibing within itself all the flavours and aroma of the accompanying spices. In no time you’d realise how beautiful your kitchen smelt. 

Lamb is not easily available in India, at least when I was growing up, and with Indian cuisine, it is evident that mutton has been a favourite since ancient times. But as I don't live in India anymore, and it's a little hard to get goat meat here in Amsterdam, I prefer to make this dish with Lamb. Not exactly the same taste, but it isn't too far from the real thing either.

This dish is my absolute favourite, I have simplified the cooking method a little by using a pressure cooker, so it takes less time, and I can still bring in the flavour of my mum's recipe.

I recreate a lot of my mum's recipes, but my versions are just not the same. One can't always get the same taste, no matter how hard one tries, but one keeps at it because the satisfaction of eating the food from one's childhood is just not achievable anywhere else.

I hope you all enjoy this recipe as much as I do :)

Lots of love,

Devinder Xx

LAMB ROGAN JOSH

Serves 3-4 people
Total time, including prep: 1 hour 35 minutes

Ingredients

3 pieces small lamb shanks, around 880 grams all together, washed and cleaned
2 Bay Leaves
2 Dry Chillies
25 whole black peppers, coarsley crushed
13 cloves, coarsley crushed
5 green cardamom pods, left whole
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
3 tablespoons clarified butter/ghee
2 teaspoons Kashmiri Red chilli powder
2 1/2 teaspoons ginger powder
6 teaspoons Aniseed/fennel powder
Salt to taste
300 ml water
1 cup greek yoghurt, around 250 grams
Good amount of chopped fresh coriander, 2 handfuls

Preparation method

Heat the oil and ghee/clarified butter together in the cooker (no lid), gently place the lamb shanks in the cooker and sear them until browned on all sides - about 8-10 minutes. Make sure to keep stirring, to avoid the lamb from sticking to the bottom. This will give the shanks the appearance of being oven-roasted when cooked and will also help develop their flavor. While browning the shanks (2-3 minutes), add salt, crushed cloves, crushed black pepper, bay leaves, cardamom pods and dry red chillies and cook for a further 7-8 minutes. That way the spices will infuse the lamb with their aroma.

Now add Kashmiri red chilli powder, ginger powder, aniseed/fennel powder, and cook for another 2 minutes. Keep stirring. By this time, the lamb shanks will be coated with all the spices and will start releasing a nice aroma.

Add the yoghurt, mix well and cook for another 10 minutes. Make sure you keep stirring, not only to prevent the lamb sticking to the bottom of the cooker, but to also avoid curdling. Add water to this mixture and bring it to the boil.

As soon as it boils, close and lock the lid and set the cooker to high pressure (or the setting according to the manufacturer). Cook for about 25-30 minutes and then remove from the heat.

Carefully release the pressure from the cooker and check if the meat is cooked. The meat should be really tender and almost coming off the bone and you will see the nice bright colour of the gravy.

Now give a gentle stir and cook for a further 5-6 minutes on a low-medium heat, to get that thick rich gravy texture, making sure you don't overcook the lamb.

Just a little tip here, after removing the lid when you check for the tenderness of the meat, you may adjust the consistency of the gravy by adding more water. If you would like the gravy a little thicker, then cook it for more than 5 minutes, to get the consistency of your choice.

Now throw in a handful of chopped fresh coriander leaves and mix well. Garnish with the remaining fresh coariander leaves just before serving.

Enjoy this delicious Lamb Rogan Josh with cumin rice and Indian pancakes / roti.

This dish is usually served with sliced raw onions, bathed in some lime juice and salt. Just the way Indians eat :) It's also a handed down Indian version of a garden salad started by the British.

Note

You may also prepare this dish in a slow cooker. Allow the shanks to cook for a minimum of 7 hours. They are ready to serve when the meat falls from the bone easily.

As for the spices, you may adjust the red chillies according to your taste.

And for gravy... this dish is best when the gravy is a little thick.