24th May 2001
Years ago, I remember going to a Brick Lane curry house with a friend
who didn't like her rogan josh at all, complaining that ``Authentic
rogan josh doesn't just mean lots of tomato and coriander.'' Well,
that's probably true, but here's a rogan recipe that uses lots of
tomato and coriander, and hey, what do you know, it tastes great!
You could, of course, use lamb or mutton instead of chicken to achieve
something a little closer to a real rogan josh (though still not very
close.) But chicken is cheaper and works just as well. (The ``josh''
part of the ``rogan josh'' name is a corruption of ``gosth'', meaning
sheep or goat meat; ``rogan'' merely means ``red''.)
This serves four, but it's easily tweakable.
It takes about half an hour.
- Five tablespoons of groundnut oil
- Three to five cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- Two heaped teaspoons of cumin seeds
- A cubic inch of ginger root, finely chopped
- Four to six fresh or pickled chilis, finely chopped (optional)
- 300-500g chicken meat, in bite-size pieces
- Spices: one to two teaspoons each of garam masala, paprika, cumin
seed and general-purpose curry powder - or whatever you happen
to have around the house.
- Two big onions, finely chopped
- Six to eight tomatoes
- A big blob of tomato puree
- A huge bunch of coriander leaf and stem
- Some lemon juice
- Heat up two tablespoons of the oil in a wok, and fry the garlic
in it for one minute.
- Add the cumin seed and fry for one more minute.
- Add the chopped ginger and fry for one more minute.
- Add the chilis and fry for one more minute.
- Add the chicken meat, and stir-fry for about five minutes, until
it's all gone white, with the garlic, cumin, ginger and chili
mulch sticking to it.
- Remove the chicken with a slotted spoon and put it to one side,
leaving most of the oil and mulch in the wok.
- Add the rest of the oil together with the spices. Mix them all
up, and stir-fry for a minute or two.
- Add the onions to the wok, mixing thoroughly with the oil, mulch
and spices. If you think that more oil is needed at this
point, feel free to add it.
- Leave this onion mixture to fry for ten minutes or so, moving it
around occasionally to prevent sticking. If it seems to be
drying out, add some water.
- This step is optional, depending on how you like your curry
texture: put about half of the onion mixture into a blender or
food processor, and whiz down into a coarse paste. Then add
it back into the wok.
- Coarsely chop the tomatoes, into maybe ten or twelve
chunks each. Add them to the wok, together with the tomato
puree. (Alternatively, you could use double the quantity of
fresh tomatoes, omit the puree, and simmer for longer at the
- Finely chop any thick coriander stems you have, and very coarsely
chop most of the leaves, keeping a few back. Add the stem and
leaf to the wok, and mix well.
- Add the chicken back in, and cook for a few more minutes - not
too long, since you don't want the tomatoes to break down into
mush. You just want them to soften.
- Serve on rice (which you've been cooking with your other hand).
Garnish the curry with the remainder of the coriander leaf,
and liven it up with a good squirt of lemon juice (or lime if
you prefer.) This is REALLY IMPORTANT.
Observant readers will notice that this bears more than a passing
resemblance to my chicken dhansak recipe.
That's no a coincidence. The first ten steps make up my standard
curry base, which is easily mutated into whatever specific curry you
happen to fancy.
How much coriander do you need? Basically, the more the better. I
buy mine from a local Turkish grocery shop, which sells it in
ludicrously sized bunches - about the size of a lettuce - but I've
never yet managed to put too much in a rogan. If you don't have such
a good source, and have to buy stupidly overpriced coriander in tiny
packets from a supermarket, then you can manage with much less.
As with most curries, this is even better if you leave it overnight
and re-heat it the next day. If you do that, don't forget to add the
lemon juice just before serving. It really brings out the other