This version of the classic rogan josh includes ground almonds to both thicken the sauce and give it texture and substance.
The curry is made with lamb or mutton shoulder, cut into one inch chunks and browned in hot oil. Before you start to brown the meat, add ten whole cloves, twelve peppercorns, one or two dried chillis and six whole cardamom pods to the hot oil and let them sizzle for a few seconds. These spices flavour the oil and start the dish as it means to go on.
Fry the meat in batches and set aside when properly browned.
Next, heat a heavy frying pan over a high flame and add a tablespoon each of cumin seeds and dessicated coconut, along with two tablespoons of coriander seeds and three tablespoons of blanched almonds, coarsely chopped. Keep the contents of the pan moving all the time until they start to brown to a rich coffee colour and begin to smell wonderful. This could take five minutes or so.
When the spices and nuts are browned, tip them into a bowl, let them cool a little and then grind them either in a pestle and mortar or in a blender along with the chilli, peppercorns, cloves and cardamom that you originally used to flavour the frying oil, and six cloves of garlic and an inch long piece of peeled and chopped ginger.
Add a generous half teaspoon of turmeric, a quarter of a teaspoon each of mace and nutmeg and about eight tablespoons of water and blend or pound to a paste. You should be left with a smooth but thick and robust paste.
At this point, you could beef things up more by adding a little chilli powder. It’s up to you.
Fry two medium sized onions, finely chopped, in the pan that the meat was fried in, adding more oil and scraping the bottom of the pan well, until the onions start to catch and turn brown.
Add the paste from the blender and continue to stir and fry for another five minutes before adding a can of chopped tomatoes. Again, stir and scrape for a few minutes.
Stir three tablespoons of yoghurt in and top up with half a pint of water.
Let the sauce bubble gently for quarter of an hour before putting the meat back in, covering and simmering for at least an hour.
Stir every once in a while and either top up with water if the sauce starts to look too dry or uncover to reduce if it looks too thin.
This is a very good curry, with a thick and rich sauce. It’s spicy and rich, the nuts providing an unusual extra dimension. As with all curries, the list of ingredients might seem long, and the cooking process might take a long time, but it’s worth the investment on both counts.