What Are the Most Peculiar Spices Used for Indian Rogan Josh?

Rogan josh is a flavourful lamb dish of Persian origin. Within India, it is an integral part of Kashmiri cuisine and considered their signature speciality. In Persian parlance, ‘Rogan’ literally means clarified butter or fat while ‘Josh’ translates to heat.

Chunks of lamb are braised and cooked using ginger, garlic, yoghurt, and browned onions. The aromatic element is derived from the spices incorporated. These include cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, and cinnamon.

With the passage of time, foodies have become calorie conscious. This has resulted in restricting the use of oil and animal fat in Indian rogan josh. Listed here are some of the most intriguing spices that make up this culinary delight:

Alkanet Root

Popularly known as ratan jot, the powder obtained from grinding the root acts as a natural food colour. Its vibrant red hue appears fiery hot but, is milder in taste when compared to chilli powder.

To extract all its goodness, fry a teaspoonful of this spice in approximately 2-3 tablespoons of ghee or warm oil. Strain the deep red liquid to retain the oil and discard the ratan jot. When added to Indian rogan josh, the pleasing colour this lends makes your preparation very appealing.

Dried Cockscomb Flower

Also known as velvet flower, amaranth, and wool flower, cockscomb is considered an exotic spice. The powdered version of Kashmiri cockscomb flower is locally referred to as mawal. Its bright red colour raises the fiery quotient of your curries. This powder helps in the treatment of mouth sores, intestinal worms, blood diseases, liver, eye and kidney problems.

Even if you only lay your hands on dried cockscomb flowers, you can put these to good culinary use too. Soak 1 cup of these flowers in a cup of warm water for roughly 15-20 minutes. Thereafter strain this mixture and use the water in your recipe for its taste and colour as per your discretion.

Saffron Strands

Considered the most expensive spice in the world, both saffron threads and powder are available. When you intend using either, opt for the purest and best quality saffron. The strands bear a deep red colour which gets lighter towards the ends. To activate their colour and flavour, these threads need heat.

When you are using threads instead of powder in your recipe, use double the quantity of the former. Allow the saffron strands to soak in milk for a while before you add the entire mixture to your cooking pot.

Marinating the meat overnight in a mixture of yoghurt, ginger, garlic and black pepper develops its characteristic flavours. The process of preparing this recipe in a pressure cooker or slow cooking tenderises the lamb further. This culinary delicacy is best served with naan or steamed rice.

About Liz Edgecombe

Liz is our founder, dreamer & passionate spice evangelist. She is passionate about enriching life & does what she can to add that extra bit of spice to life.