Chi: Joining us today, we have Indian chef Halim Ali Khan with his signature dish Lamb Rogan Josh. It’s a kind of curry but it has a distinct recipe.
Hi Halim, I have tried different kinds of Indian curries, like beef curry and pork curry. Is it true that all kinds of curries are cooked in the same way?
Halim: All the curries have specific set of spices. Like Karahi chicken, we put cumin seeds, coriander, cinnamon, bay leaves, cardamom, and dried chilli on top. It’s a different combination, different quantity. You just mix spices.
Chi: Oh, I got it. What about Lamb Rogan Josh? I see here you have prepared various kinds of spices. Some are quite popular like; ginger, garlic, and chilli powder, and others like cumin powder, fennel seeds, bay leaves, cardamom, cinnamon, oh so many. Halim will show us how to use these spices in the right order.
Halim: Lamb Rogan Josh, we have lamb. The lamb is marinated with ginger, garlic paste, yogurt, and chilli powder. You marinate it and keep it aside for 20 minutes.
Chi: First we must marinate the lamb. Marinating takes time for the meat to absorb spices, so this must be the first step.
Halim: After that you take a pot, and you put in oil. You can put ghee, Indian butter. Then, you put some bay leaves, cinnamon, green cardamom, black cardamom, and after that fennel seeds. Sauté, then you add onions, sliced onions, make them brown, then add ginger and garlic paste. Next, you put in tomato sauce, and cook it nicely. Then, you put the lamb. You cook the lamb on high heat. Cook it fast, so that the other side of the lamb is sealed properly like the browning effect.
Chi: Do you notice any tips while cooking the lamb? Remember some key words “high heat”, “cook fast” and “browning effect”. Next up is making the sauce for Lamb Rogan Josh. A number of spices are also added in this step.
Halim: Add stock and boil it for one hour until the lamb is tender. When the lamb is soft, we add the spices. When we sauté ginger and garlic, we add some spices, like chilli powder, then you put a little coriander and cumin powder. After that, you boil it. When it’s done, you check the sauce. It should be a red colour, and the flavour should taste of fennel. Then you put fennel powder on top, clove powder, dried
ginger powder, coriander leaves, and garnish with the ginger julienne.
Chi: Most Indian food requires lots of spices, and marinating. Does it require much patience to cook Indian dishes?
Halim: Indian kitchen needs a lot of preparation. Only plain food, but the cooking technique is important. That’s where we get that taste. Even vegetables can have a very good taste. Because when you cook, if the technique is good, you cook nicely. In India there are so many vegetarians. They don't eat meat, but the food is tasty. Most people don't eat vegetables because they don't know how to cook them properly. If you cook properly, there is a taste. And if you just put salt and pepper, no taste.
Chi: I see. You said the cooking method is very important. Can you show us some tips to successfully make Lamb Rogan Josh?
Halim: You have to make sure that it doesn’t burn. It’s easy to burn. Slow heat, many hours, so the meat is tender and soft, the sauce is smooth, and the flavor should bring out fennel. It depends on the dish. We make the sauce in advance. The lamb is boiled in advance and keeps in spices.
Chi: Lamb has a strong smell. How should we get rid of or reduce that smell for cooking?
Halim: That’s why you sauté on high heat. That’s the best way to cook the lamb. Sauté with spices with the oil and high heat, seal the sides nicely and the smell will be gone.
Chi: That’s how to make Lamb Rogan Josh, a special Indian curry that we have enjoyed today. Keep tuning in to the show for more recipes. Good bye.