Maybe it’s because of my Kiwi roots, or maybe quite the opposite – that it’s so exotic, so not a part of my everyday life; for whatever reason – either of those, or just because it’s freaking delicious – I absolute love eating lamb. I mean, admittedly, lamb isn’t quite exotic – but it’s not something that I ever remember my mother preparing at home. It’s not one of the North American dietary staples in the same way that beef, chicken, and pork are, and that’s pretty much what she stuck to. So to me, lamb is an absolute treat; as such, it has to be fully appreciated with a great recipe.
Thankfully, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution has a great recipe for a curry dish called “Lamb Rogan Josh”, which I used the first time I ever attempted cooking lamb myself. That first time, I tried to stick as close as I could to the original recipe, only to find that rogan josh curry paste is simply unavailable in my area. I had to opt for a generic “hot” curry paste, but I vowed to never again resort to such curry paste substitutions if I could at all help it. This time around, I was extra prepared with my own homemade curry paste, which I simply had to defrost from the freezer, where it was still stored from my Saag Aloo attempt a few months back.
This time around, I broke away from Jamie’s measurements a bit. An extra chile here (mine being serranos), some potatoes there, and what I ended up with is definitely still heavily “inspired” by my unaware teacher/mentor, but different enough to warrant writing up. Anyways, whether you go with my adapted version, or Mr. Oliver’s original (found in Food Revolution), I highly recommend you try it. I opted for plain basmati this time around, but made things a bit more interesting with an attempt at homemade naan. I don’t think it was quite at the level where I’d want to post about it just yet, but it was definitely a fun experience watching the bread bubble up on the stovetop, and it’s such a cool feeling knowing I can make an entire Indian feast on my own, from scratch, right down to the naan and curry paste. Enough of this, though – on to the recipe!
Lamb Rogan Josh
- 2-3 medium onions, finely chopped
- 2 Serrano peppers, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. finely diced ginger (about thumb-sized)
- small bunch cilantro (pick some leaves for garnish, then chop the rest, stalks and leaves)
- peanut oil
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 1/2 lbs. lamb leg steak, cubed (1 inch)
- 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
- 1 chicken flavoured bouillon cube
- 3 1/2 cups hot water
- 1/2 cup rogan josh curry paste
- 1/2 – 1 cup split red lentils
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed (1 inch)
- plain Balkan or Greek-style yogurt
- Place a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add two lugs of oil, and allow to heat up. Once the oil it hot, melt in the butter, then toss in the onions, peppers, ginger, chopped cilantro, and bay leaves. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the onions are soft.
- Add the lamb and cook until all the pieces are browned on all sides.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and cook for 2 more minutes before adding the following: the tomatoes, the bouillon dissolved in the hot water, the curry paste, and the lentils. Season with salt and pepper.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and turn down to a simmer.
- After 15 minutes, toss in the potatoes and continue to simmer for another 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After the curry has simmered for an hour (15 + 45), remove the lid and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, depending on how runny the mixture is, and how much you’d like it to thicken.
- Serve over a bed of basmati rice, with a dollop of yogurt and some cilantro leaves.