Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Polly Rhogan Josh

A few days ago I published a post on Defrosting Polly and promised that I'd give you the recipe for Lamb Rhogan Josh. Of course I forgot all about it, until now!

I like Asian food; I've been eating it regularly for over twenty years now! My first proper Indian curry was made by a delightful woman, who lived next door to my Grandmother. Mrs Assi adopted me from the time my Grandmother moved in until the day we moved to Ireland. During that time she introduced me to a whole new way of life and awoke my taste buds to cuisine from heaven.

Nursing in the United Kingdom is considered to be one of the lower paid professions. Unfortunately, if you don't live in the city of London there are no special concessions or increments and you soon learn how to live cheaply. Leeds was the perfect classroom for this. The Victorian Market supplied inexpensive food, good quality at affordable prices meant that we ate well.

Upon my returrn to the South as newly weds on relatively low wages; the mortgage and its encumbent bills left me with all of £50.00 per calender month with which to buy groceries. Luckily Basingstoke, in North Hampshire had a market; albeit a small one. Thanks to the market traders my ex-husband and I lived to tell the tale of abject poverty in the South of England; our diet consisting mainly of vegetarian and asian cuisine, this is my version of

Lamb Rhogan Josh (serves 4)

1lb Diced Lamb (I used to fillet a shoulder )
2 med onions
2 cans chopped tomatoes/l0 large ripe fresh tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
2 fresh red chili's (jalapaeno - mild; birds eye - v. hot; variety dep on taste) or
2 heaped tsp's flaked chili
1 thumb sized peice root ginger/2 tsp powdered ginger
2 heaped tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp powdered tumeric
1/2 tsp powdered cloves
1 tsp powdered cardammon
1 lge black cardammon
handful curry leaves
salt to taste
1tbsp oil/ghee
water; as required
fresh coriander for serving (optional)


Dice onion, garlic & ginger (if using fresh)
Melt oil/ghee in heavy based pan
Gently fry cumin seeds until they begin to pop
Add onions, garlic, chili's & ginger, sautee until onions transparent.
Stir often to prevent browning.
Add diced lamb & turn regularly until browned.
Add powdered spices and salt. Fry for half minute.
Add tomatoes and stir into lamb.
Bring to the boil & cover. Reduce heat.
Simmer for up to one and a half hours, or until lamb is tender, stirring occasionally.
It may be necessary to add extra water, if mixture is very dry.
Serve with basmati rice or home-made chappati.

This dish is versatile, in so far as fresh or dried spices may be used, according to availability or preference. I have often transferred the mixture after boiling to a pre-heated casserole dish (or in my case stainless steel wok) for cooking on a low heat in the oven; this is especially helpful when running around the countryside delivering children here, there and everywhere!



Half a pound of plain flour, a tablespoon oil, and a cup of water & a twist of salt.

  1. Place the ingredients in a large bowl, mix with a clean hand until the mixture resembles pastry, adding more flour/water as required.
  2. Kneed until the mixture becomes smoother and more inclined to stick to itself than your hand or the bowl.
  3. At this stage you can divide the dough into about eight balls; roughly the size of a clementine.
  4. Use a floured board and rolling pin to roll the dough balls into flat & thin circles, about the depth of a euro/pound coin.
  5. Heat your wok/heavy frying pan. Add a tsp or so of oil.Wipe the inside with a peice of kichen towel to remove surplus oil and set aside.
  6. Add one dough circle and fry until it starts to rise.
  7. With a peice of kitchen towel or a tea-towel press gently on the surface of the chapatti to spread the air within the dough.
  8. Turn chapatti over and repeat process.
  9. Remove from heat when it looks like a store/restaurant chapatti in colour( a bit like pitta bread)
  10. Cover with a damp cloth and keep in slow oven until ready for serving, they're nicer warm and soft.)

The dough can be made up to a week in advance and stored in a plastic bag in the fridge. It can also be frozen and defrosted before use.
Cooked chapatti's can also be frozen, needing only to be reheated on the pan before serving with a dish that has lots of delicious sauce to be soaked up!
Repeat this process until all the chapatti's are ready to be served.

If you like rich food, with a low cal price tag this dish needn't be off the menu. Just be a little meaner with the oil and you can fit it in, gorge yourself silly and still lose weight - I managed to lose 2 stone eating this kind of food. My husband and friends marvelled at what I was 'allowed to eat" and found it difficult to believe that I was on a diet!

Give this one a go and let me know what you think. If you like Asian style food this is a definite go-er...

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