A few friends of mine invited me out to dinner just recently. They were checking out an Indian restaurant they heard good things about in Key Biscayne called Ayesha Saffron Fine Dining. It’s a small establishment tucked away in a strip mall. And while I might have had a little trouble locating the restaurant after parking my car, there was no hiding the incredible flavors that ran through every dish. From the tandoori chicken, which was roasted in the same style pot as it has been for years, to the vibrant samosas and flavorful lamb, the experience was both memorable and worthy repeating.
I left that restaurant with a huge yearning to fill my kitchen with the same smells that both wafted out of the doors of the restaurant and rose from the food that came to our table. So I went home and opened my spice drawers. And what I found brought the biggest smile to my face.
Amongst the curries I knew I had was one I only tried a bit of at the restaurant but remembered like it had eaten 10 courses of it. Rogan josh curry. It was part of a braised lamb dish my friend Alonso ordered and raved about. And one bite was all I needed to inspire me to make this rogan josh dish on my own.
Slow-cooked in the oven, prepare for your home to be filled with the savory scents of Indian cuisine and for your appetite to be soaring until you can finally sit down to a huge helping of this dish!
Rogan Josh Curry Braised Lamb
(recipe serving size – 4-6 people)
For the lamb:
1 3/4 to 2 lbs of lamb (leg), cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 tb olive oil for the lamb plus 1 tb olive oil for the pan
1 tb rogan josh curry
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp cracked green pepper
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp za’tar
Mix the spices in a small bowl and set aside 1 tb and 1 tsp. Cover the lamb in the olive oil and coat the beef with the remaining spice blend.
Heat an oven-safe pot or high-sided pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and sauté the lamb for about 2 minutes, turning over once during the process, to render some of the fat and to brown the lamb. Remove the lamb and set aside.
For the base of the braise:
1 medium sweet onion, diced
1 large red pepper, diced
2 serrano peppers, sliced with seeds
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups grape tomatoes
1/2 tsp rogan josh
1/2 tsp za’atar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Using the same pan with the drippings from the brief browning, lower the heat slightly (down to medium to medium-high heat). Add the onion, red bell pepper and serrano pepper along with spices. Sauté for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes.
Finishing the braise:
2 cups chicken stock
Remaining 1 tb and 1 tsp of lamb spice blend
1 tb and 1 tsp tomato paste
8 sprigs oregano, tied into a bundle.
3 bay leaves
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tsp kosher salt
Add the chicken stock, the spice blend, the salt, the garlic and the tomato paste and gently stir until the paste is fully incorporated into the sauce. Add the bay leaves and the oregano bundle and bring the pot to a vibrant simmer. Once the sauce has simmered for 2-3 minutes, remove the oregano bundle and place the pot with the lid on into the oven. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until the lamb is fork tender.
Bringing it all together:
1 tb fresh basil, chopped (about 12-14 leaves)
Taste for salt and pepper. Gently stir in the fresh basil and return the pot to the oven uncovered. Cook for another 15 minutes. Dish into individual bowls and serve with rice and your choice of vegetable while hot.