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Author Notes: This is a recipe that I discovered when I was researching for my cookbook, The London Cookbook. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients! Most are spices and easily added.
This recipe, from Vivek Singh, the chef-proprietor of London’s Cinnamon Kitchen and Cinnamon Club, takes a British classic and gives it an Indian twist. It’s far more exciting than any other Shepard’s Pie I’ve ever eaten, while still offering the comfort expected of this traditional dish. The cardamom gives it warmth, the chili heat—the root vegetables, an earthy hint of sweet.
Rogan Josh, Persian in origin, is a Kashmiri dish. No, it is not the name of someone, as I first assumed, but rather of the aromatic lamb curry that forms the base of this dish. It happens to go exceedingly well with a cold pale ale.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 green cardamom pods
- 1 black cardamom pod
- 2 dried red chillies
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 onions, 2 finely chopped and 1 sliced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 pound boned leg of lamb, diced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger and garlic paste
- 1 1/2 cups stock or water
- 2 teaspoons red chilli powder
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 pounds lean lamb minced/ground
- 2 tablespoons tomato purée
- 1 tablespoon plain yogurt
- 1/2 sweet potato, peeled and finely diced
- 1/2 celeriac, peeled and finely diced
- 1/2 turnip, peeled and finely diced
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh coriander leaves and stalks
- For the spice mix:
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 2 star anise
- 2 cm piece of cinnamon stick
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
for the potato topping:
- 1/2 pound floury potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- A pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon cheddar, grated
- For the potato topping, add the potatoes to a pot of boiling water with the turmeric and salt. Cook until tender. Drain, then mash them with the butter and cheddar cheese.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan and add the cloves, bay leaves, the three cardamom pods, chillies and cumin seeds. When the seeds crackle, add the garlic. Cook until golden, then add the onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, over a medium heat for 4–6 minutes, until translucent.
- Add the diced lamb, ginger and garlic paste and cook, stirring, on a medium-high heat for 4–5 minutes, until lightly browned. Reduce the heat, add the stock and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- For the spice mix, toast the whole spices and fennel seeds in a dry frying pan on medium heat for 1-2 minutes till the aromas are released. Remove from the pan and grind or pound them to a fine powder. Set aside.
- After the lamb has cooked for 30 minutes, add the chilli powder and ground coriander and cumin and stir for 5 minutes on a medium-low heat. Add the minced lamb and tomato purée and stir in the yoghurt.
- Preheat the oven to 400F.
- Cook for another 20 minutes till the meat is tender. Add the sweet potato, celeriac, turnip, sliced onion and the spice mix and cook for a further 5–8 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Check seasoning and stir in the fresh coriander.
- Transfer to a deep pie dish and top with the mashed potato. Bake for 10–12 minutes or until golden on top. Serve with a green salad.