Adapted from a The Kitchen recipe
Everyone in my family loves lamb in any form—it is a Lueck thing. Jan unfortunately—or fortunately depending on your point of view—is a Lueck by marriage and she only likes barbecued lamb. Stewed, simmered, braised lamb is right off her menu. A classic lamb rogan josh is lamb braised for hours in a spicy sauce. My challenge was to adapt this recipe to her tastes.
Rogan Josh gets its distinctive red color from Kashmiri chilies. American commercial “simmer sauces” usually depend on tomatoes to make them red, but this is a non-traditional ingredient. While “they say Kashmiri chili powder is not as hot as Indian chili powder,” it is not a mild spice. Adjust the amount of chili powder to your own taste.
While I had originally intended to barbeque this lamb on the grill outside, San Jose’s weather did not cooperate. This turned into a “spare the air day” and it is illegal to “fire up the barbie.” Quickly adapting, I decided to broil my lamb. To round out my Indian feast I am making saag panneer, raita, and naan. Jan made a persimmon pumpkin pie for dessert.
After Dinner Note: I have found most commercial rogan josh to be too hot to eat. I made this recipe mild enough that you could actually taste the fruitiness of the Kashmiri chilies. Chris and Myr wanted it a bit hotter. Feel free to spice it up.
Karl’s Broiled Lamb Rogan Josh
4 lb. boneless half leg of lamb
6 green cardamom pods, seeds only
1 tsp. whole cloves
1 tsp. fennel seeds
1 tsp. black peppercorns
1 whole black cardamom pod (6 seeds only)
4 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. Kashmiri chili powder
For the rogan josh sauce:
3 Tbs. lamb fat with bits of meat (or 2 Tbs. neutral oil)
1 medium red onion, diced
½ tsp. Kosher salt
4 green cardamom pods, seeds only
4 whole cloves
¼ teaspoon whole fennel seeds
¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
½ tsp. Kashmiri chili powder
1 whole stick cinnamon
1 tsp. sugar, plus more to taste
1 can (14.5 oz.) low sodium chicken broth
1 cup Greek-style yogurt, at room temperature
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
1 Tbs. cornstarch (optional)
Handful fresh cilantro, chopped, to garnish
1. Bone and butterfly the top half of a leg of lamb. Trim off excess fat, reserving two tablespoons of fat with meat bits attached.
Tip: You want your lamb to be in a single piece about one and a half inches thick
2. Put the green cardamom seeds, cloves, fennel seeds, peppercorns, and black cardamom seeds in a small skillet and toast them until fragrant, about 40 seconds.
3. Cool the spices slightly and then process, in a spice grinder, to a powder.
4. Transfer the spice powder to a bowl and mix in the paprika, cinnamon, and Kashmiri chili powder.
Tip: If you want a spicier sauce, you may add more chili powder.
Note: What I have read on-line talks about how much milder Kashmiri chili powder is than Indian chili powder. If there is a difference, I find it between three and four alarm fires.
5. Rub the spice mixture into the lamb and place it in a plastic bag. Refrigerate for at least four hours to marinate.
Tip: I prep my meat the night before.
6. About 4-6 hours before dinner, render the reserved lamb fat. remove and reserve the lamb bits.
Tip: You should have about 2 tablespoons of lamb grease in the pan. You may substitute 2 tablespoons of neutral oil.
7. Sauté the onions and salt over medium heat until soft, about five minutes.
8. Put the green cardamom seeds, cloves, fennel seeds, and peppercorns in a small skillet and toast them until fragrant, about 40 seconds.
9. Cool the spices slightly and then process, in a spice grinder, to a powder.
10. Add the spice powder, cinnamon stick and sugar to the pot and continue sautéing for 3-4 minutes.
Tip: This time allows the spices to become fragrant and caramelizes the sugar to enhance the flavors.
11. Stir in the chicken broth and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for two to three hours.
Note: In the original recipe the meat is simmered in the sauce for hours. To recover some of this flavor, I am mincing the rendered fatty lamb bits and adding it to the sauce at this point. This is an optional step.
12. When the sauce has reduced by two thirds, remove the cinnamon stick and put it into a standing blender. Process the sauce until smooth.
13. Return the sauce to the pot and keep it warm.
14. Lay the lamb in a broiling pan, with a wire rack, and broil for 8-10 minutes per side, until well browned and crusted and a constant read thermometer, inserted into the thickest part of the meat, reads 150º F
15. Transfer the lamb to a serving platter and tent with foil. Let the meat rest for ten minutes.
16. Put the yogurt into a small bowl and add some of the hot sauce to it.
Tip: This tempers the yogurt and prevents it from breaking into unappetizing bits when added to the sauce.
17. Stir the yogurt into the sauce and add the vinegar and continue cooking until the sauce is fully hot again.
Tip: Stir in some cornstarch mixed with water to thicken the sauce, if necessary.
Note: Do not bring the sauce to a full boil or the yogurt will break into bits.
18. Slice the lamb across the grain and garnish with cilantro.
19. Serve the rogan josh sauce on the side.