Make a decadent, aromatic, rich curry from scratch and even make your own spice mix. I’ve cooked this curry, and variations of it, loads recently, but think this version is the best. It does take a little longer, but you just can’t compare the flavours. I’ve given you options to make this a quick curry too, but I’d urge you to give the full version a try. You’re gonna love it!!
The Real Deal
Rogan Josh is a rich, classical style curry made with yoghurt as a sauce base, not onions. It was brought to Kashmir by the Mughal’s as they swept across North India. I’m captivated by Indian history and if you’re not a regular BHK reader, by way of background, I’m in love with India and have been there many times, travelling from the tip down south to the top, the Himalayas! I am yet to visit anywhere that is as enchanting and mesmering and the FOOD, lets just say it will take me this lifetime at least to explore such a vast and tantalising cuisine. This curry is a good start, a staple and as ever, this is vegan food everyone one will love! How could you not? We get all the full flavours of roasted veg and mushrooms and treat it to a very special sauce.
If you make this curry, please let me know, I’d be excited to hear about your spice adventures and how you found the flavour. Once you try this, you’ll never go back to shop bought or jars (unless you were in a real rush!) I love curries, but at this time of year, with it getting colder and darker, I think this style of warming, rich curry really comes into it’s own. A radiant, colourful bowl of big flavours that’s perfectly suited as a winter/ autumn warmer. I get quite passionate when talking about Indian cooking. Does it show?!
Roast your own! Spices
Spices! They bring everything to life. I’ve written so much about spices over the years, not to mention a hefty spice intro (with nutritional benefits) in Peace and Parsnips, our very own cookbook:) I talked a lot about spices in there, they’re so important to my cooking and dare I say, Indian is my favourite way of cooking. No, I don’t! It does depend on how the stars are aligned and what I fancy and all of that, but, we all know Indian food is utterly brilliant and this recipe does it justice I feel.
I give you full instructions below about how to toast and grind your own spice mixes, this one is similar to a Garam Masala, a North India spice mix filled with warming spices like cinnamon and cloves, you can see the picture above and you can probably imagine the aroma when all that hits a warm pan. Out of this world!!
Garam Masala – Hot Spice!
Dry toasting spices like this in a pan adds complexity and brings out all the incredible aromas. There are many versions of Garam Masala (‘Garam’ – Hot, ‘Masala’ – Spice Mix). You could add Mace or nutmeg for example. But I think this is a good all rounder. If you don’t please let me know below. If you do, again, let’s talk in the comments. I love chatting about spices and learning new things.
I’ve added smoked paprika and turmeric to this spice mix, they’re not classically ‘Garam Masala’, but I like them in this Rojan Gosh.
You can also use shop bought spices here. See in the recipe below. Keep your spices in a sealed container and use well within the use by date on the packet. Smell them, if they don’t smell of much, they won’t add much to the curry.
Most UK curries are different from those in India. Generally that is. In most of the Indian Restaurants in the UK, there is very tasty food, but it’s been modified to meet our Western palates. There are of course some incredible, authentic Indian restaurants in the UK, but the curries I find that most people enjoy and associate with Indian cooking, are not what I eat in India. We seem to prefer the big, rich flavours of Northern Indian cooking, much of which was influenced by the great Mughal Empire, who brought a lot of influences from Persia and surrounding areas. For me, that’s what curries represent, a melting pot in so many ways.
I’m just not sure if there is the same approach with spices. Many curries I eat in the UK seem to lack the vibrancy and fragrance of an curry in India. I must investigate this further. Where’s the magic gone? I was born in Leicester, a town with a rich Indian restaurant heritage, so I know where to get a mighty fine curry. But it’s not a standard. So we’ve three choices, go to Leicester, jump on a plane to Delhi, or make your own?
We’re going to Kashmir……
Kashmir is a stunning region in the very North West of India, and a very good song of course (click here for Led Zep’s version of Kashmir). Apparently Robert Plant had never even been to Kashmir when he wrote it, just liked the sound of it. Maybe he just loved a good Rojan Gosh?
Kashmir borders Pakistan and historically has seen many foreign invaders cross through it, down into the Gangetic Plain, from Alexander the Great to the Persians, although I don’t want this to sound like a history lesson, I’m just fascinated with a dish like Rogan Gosh (loosley translates as ‘Rojan’ – to stew, ‘Gosh’ – red). A delicious plateful of history.
I’ve gone for mushrooms and squash here because they’re seasonal and I love them. But you can use similar vegetables, carrots, potatoes, peppers, whatever takes your fancy. The key here is the sauce. That’s where the magic is!
I mentioned that this was traditional, that was a small, white lie. It is pretty traditional, but in Kashmir they may use something called Cockscomb Flower to give the curry a more reddish hue. But I’m happy with this colour.
Kashmiri chillies are quite important here. You’ll find them in most supermarkets and especially Indian/ Asian food shops. They are milder than many chillies. We want lots of chillies in the Rojan Gosh masala, but not loads of heat.
If you don’t have dried Kashmiri chillies, that’s cool, go for chilli powder or cayenne pepper, anything to add a little heat to the curry.
Saffron can also be added here, but I think it just gets lost with the other spices and is basically a waste of our precious, and not inexpensive, saffron.
When I mention coconut cream, I mean the cream off a tin of coconut milk. That means, the thick bit. Adds lovely creaminess. Yoghurt is best, unsweetened soya yoghurt, now available in most supermarkets (wahoo!)
Spices, you will have too much here for just one curry, but if you’re going to make your own spice, you may as well make a decent batch I say. Keep them in a sealed container or jar. Label them up, with a date, or give them away as a gift. In my experience, people love the gift of spice!
Mushroom and Squash Rogan Josh
The Bits – For 4-6
1 roasted medium squash, 650g (skin on, chop into chunks, seeds removed)
1 tin chickpeas (drained)
200g or 3 big handfuls mushrooms (chopped)
3 big handfuls or 75g greens (kale, spinach, chard)
5 tbs plain soya yoghurt/ coconut cream
Garam Masala – Spice Mix
½ teas green cardamom seeds (seeds from 10 cardamom pods)
½ stick cinnamon
2/3 teas cloves
1 teas black peppercorns
2 tbs cumin seeds
2 tbs coriander seeds
1 teas fennel seeds
3 bay leaves
1-2 dried red Kashmiri chilli
1 teas turmeric
1 ½ teas smoked paprika
Or use shop bought spice mix like garam masala plus 1 teas smoked paprika
1 roasted red pepper (seeded, chopped into chunks)
3 garlic cloves
2-4 dried kashmiri chilli
1 inch fresh ginger (chopped)
3 tbs tomato puree
1 teas salt
3 tbs cold pressed rapeseed oil (or whatever oil you use)
3-4 tbs Spice Mix
Fresh coriander and sliced chillies
Preheat a fan oven to 200oC.
On a baking tray lined with parchment, place the red pepper and squash. Toss in a little salt and cooking oil. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until soft and slightly blackened in places.
For the spices – Place a pan on a medium heat, add all the whole spices and toast for 4-8 minutes or more, tossing them and making sure they’re all toasted and smelling fragrant. They will take on a slightly darker colour and smell ‘toasty’.
Be sure not to burn them, the best way to check this is the smell and the look. You don’t want any black bits at all. Some people prefer darker spices, some prefer lightly toasted. I’d start with lightly toasted. Add the ground turmeric and paprika a minute before you finish toasting the spices.
Place all the spices in a small blender or spice grinder (coffee grinders are also good), and blitz until a powder forms. Use some in the curry and store the rest in an airtight container. Garam Masala is a versatile spice mix.
For the curry paste – Place the roasted red pepper in a blender with the other curry paste ingredients and blend to a smooth paste.
For the curry – In a large frying pan, warm 1 tbs cooking oil and fry your mushrooms for 5 minutes, until they’re soft. Add the curry paste, thinning out with water or soya milk (creamier) as needed. Once the curry paste is bubbling away, spoon in the yoghurt and check seasoning.
Now add the roasted squash, chickpeas and greens. Warm through from 5-7 minutes, then serve scattered with freshly chopped coriander with naan, chutneys and rice.
Squash is bang in season at the minute, there are so many varities. If you’re reading from the US, were of course talking Winter Squashes here. They are a rich source of vitamin C, A and plenty of fibre and minerals. Also remember the seeds, you can clean and dry them and they are amazing roasted in the oven for 10-12 minutes.
Come and join us for cooking workshops and holidays soon, check out our EVENTS page HERE.
Our new NEWSLETTER is out very soon, sign up HERE (it takes a few seconds). Lots more recipes, news and interviews from Jane and I.