Indian is by far one of my favourite cuisines and I know I’m not alone! The Indian often gives Chinese a run for its money in the country’s favourite take-away food.
When I was younger I didn’t ever eat Indian food. We’ve always been the kind of family that orders a takeaway for special occasions (like birthdays) or evenings where the routines gone out of the window (like parents evening for example). BUT the Indian takeaway leaflets were always left in the drawer until Mum and Dad were home alone.I remember trying my first piece of Chicken Tikka. I had never tasted anything like it before! It was so new and different that I genuinely couldn’t tell if I liked it or not. I wanted to try more, but I was scared that my parents would order me a dish and I wouldn’t be able to finish it. After all, trying one piece of Chicken Tikka isn’t quite the same as sitting down to a plate of keema naan, pilau rice and a creamy curry.
It turns out my sister HATED her taste so that was that...I never really got a chance to try curry again properly until I was in my early teens. To this day I maintain I fell in love with Jon (AND cooking) because he cooked the best curries! Ok...we both know they were out of a jar, but I had never had a homemade curry until I started going for dinner at Jon’s house. They were always vegetarian (sometimes which extra quorn pieces) and served with fluffy basmati rice. That was it...I was hooked!When I passed this news on to my parents it was decided we’d start ordering Indian take-aways as a family. No more Dominoes or Chinese. The Indian was king. By this point my sister was always round her boyfriends, so once a month on a Saturday night, I started working my way through the local curry house's menu.
As it turns out, I like ALL types of curries – from creamy Kormas and butter chickens, to spicy Jalfrezis. I also love garlic naans, peshwari naans, keema naans, chapattis, parathas, pilau rice, lemon rice...basically there isn’t ONE thing on the menu I don’t like. Sometimes I’ll order lamb, sometimes chicken, sometime prawn and sometimes veggie. No curry is off limits.Despite saying this, one curry has had a special place in my heart all these years. The Rogan Josh.
I don’t actually remember when this became my “go-to” curry but if we were ordering in a hurry or weren’t ordering a giant Indian feast, I’d simply order a Rogan Josh. I loved the rich sauce with tomatoes and green peppers mopped up with a keema naan – to me it was heaven!Until my post on a Low Fat Chicken Korma I hadn’t tried recreating my take-away favourites at home. I have no friends or family from India who could teach me all their secrets, and I just can’t justify using ghee in my home cooking (I swear I would weigh a tonne overnight!) So I’ve always steered clear.
But, in my pursuit of delicious tasting healthy foods I decided it was time I tried to crack the Rogan Josh.Rogan Josh is the signature dish of the Kashmir region and is traditionally cooked with lamb. The sauce or gravy is based on browned onions yoghurt, garlic, ginger and spices such as cloves, bay leaves, cardamom and cinnamon all of which you'll find in my recipe. The red colour of the sauce traditionally comes from dried Kashmiri chilies. These can be replaced by paprika which has a similar flavour - again you'll find this in my recipe below. It is not a really hot dish, but instead should be fragrant with a slight chilli heat rather than a kick.
Indian take-aways in countries such as England also include the addition of tomatoes. This gives it a less traditional flavour but also helps bring out the red colour found in the Kashmiri dish.My recipe falls somewhere in between the two. It has the tomatoes and green peppers that I know so well from my local take-away, but the spices used are very traditional. I’ve also cut down on much of the oil needed to cook the lamb and baked it in the oven for a tender texture so it’s not as unhealthy for you as the take-away variety.
If you have never tried cooking “take-away style” curries at home before, this is a great recipe to start with! You will get a smoother gravy or sauce if you have a blender to hand but it’s not essential, and this can be served with rice or traditional breads.Here’s the recipe:
NB. If you want to get some more veggies into your diet, spinach can be added to this dish! Add as much as you like when you add the cardamom pods, cloves and bay leaf. Don’t transfer the curry into the oven dish until the spinach has wilted completely.You may also have noticed that the recipe calls for roast lamb diced – this is our favourite way to use up leftovers, but you can equally use raw lamb. Simply cook it for longer before placing it into the oven dish!
If you’ve liked this recipe, why not also check out my Low Fat Chicken Korma – a take-away classic revamped to include less fat and calories, but all the flavour of your favourite take-away dish!