Rogan Josh: the ultimate comfort food (WHB#124: bay laurel)

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recipe: T’s Rogan Josh made with pork instead of lamb or goat

Here it is midweek and I am once again ignoring the calendar; here is my post for

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB) #124 Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)

(click on image for larger view and more photos)

rogan josh It snowed again last night. A stiff north wind is holding the temperature down.

Not a lot of snow. Probably still not enough to break the record. But enough to cover the sidewalks and roads again and make bicycling pretty much impossible. Enough to make us feel the need for comfort. And nothing is more comforting than Rogan Josh.

A few weeks ago, we were watching “Food Safari” on Food Network Canada and saw a fellow making rogan josh. And T dreamily murmured “I love rogan josh… too bad you don’t like lamb and that goat is so pricey“. And then his eyes lit up as he realized that he could probably make a reasonable facsimile using pork instead of lamb or goat!

Probably? Most definitely!

Here’s what T does to make his fabulous fake Rogan Josh. Do substitute lamb or goat to make a more correct Rogan Josh, if you like:

T’s Rogan Josh
based on Kumar Mahadevan’s recipe for Rogan Josh

  • 4 whole dried cayenne chilis
  • boiling water
  • 4 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 black cardamom pods
  • 10 green cardamom pods, seeds only
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp whole cloves
  • 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 2 med onions, sliced
  • 2 inch fresh ginger, chopped finely
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 kg cubed pork shoulder
  • water
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • seasalt, to taste
  • butter, to taste
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • coriander leaves (cilantro), to garnish


  1. Just cover 3 dried cayenne chilis with boiling water and leave for 20 – 30 minutes to soften. Purée to make into a paste. Set aside.
  2. In a wok, blacken the fourth chili in hot oil.
  3. Add anything that is a seed or pod: black cardamom pods, green cardamom seeds, fennel seeds, cloves, and fry for about half a minute. Add onions, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, turmeric and fry til the onion is beginning to colour. Add ginger, garlic and cubed pork and cook until pork is nicely browned. *To prevent the risk of burning the spices, cook the onions until they are just beginning to colour. Add ginger, garlic, spices and cook for about half a minute more. Add cubed pork and cook until pork is nicely browned.
  4. Add tomato paste, chili paste, bay leaves and enough water to cover. Salt to taste. Turn down the heat; put a lid over the wok and allow to simmer gently til the meat is soft. This may be up to 3 hours. It’s definitely a dish that can be made the day before and reheated.
  5. Just before serving, stir in garam masala. Add some butter and heat through til it has melted. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary.

Serve with naan, vegetable(s) and pickled onions and carrots.

This is killer good! I love the smell of the two cardamoms! And the taste they lend to a dish as well. There really is nothing so wonderful as cardamom! And even though the black cardamom is still housed in its pod and can be a little grainy and fibrous when inadvertantly popped into the mouth with a spoonful of Rogan Josh, the flavour payoff is worth every moment of mild discomfort.

The first time we made Rogan Josh with pork, we served it with Swiss Chard and naan. We loved the Rogan Josh so much that we made it again a couple of nights later.

rogan josh That time we served it with palak paneer, naan, pickled carrots and onions and a beet/turnip dish I threw together at the last minute. (Caramelized onion, fennel and brown mustard seeds are fabulous with steamed beet and turnip slices!)

The second time round, there was a whole other dinner leftover. Instead of making naan again, we turned the leftovers into biryani. And couldn’t decide which version was better. With naan or with rice?

Just to see, we’re having Rogan Josh again tonight.

Weekend Herb Blogging (WHB#124)
Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)

weekend herb blogging - © kalyns kitchen

cardamom and bay I contemplated featuring Black Cardamom (Amomum subulatum) for this week’s post for WHB, but I just couldn’t bring myself to talk about a spice when there is also an herb that is integral to Rogan Josh. After all, the event is Weekend Herb Blogging…

I love the smell of bay leaves and the flavour they impart to soups and stews. What is so cool about them is that they are initially quite innocuous. It’s only after they have been bruised or cut in half that the wonderful aroma bursts out.

I have been very fortunate with growing my second bay tree (the first one succumbed to a severe attack of scale). The bay has grown so well that I have to drastically trim it every time I bring it back into the house to overwinter so it will fit in our low-ceilinged basement. I just hang the branch clippings upside down in the kitchen and we can break off a dried leaf whenever we want it. This way, I can leave the dormant tree undisturbed in the basement.

But as soon as summer comes – if the snow ever melts so summer does come – and the bay tree is back outside flourishing in the sun, when we want bay leaves, we go out and cut fresh ones. (I confess that I do go down at Christmas time to steal a couple of fresh leaves to garnish our chicken liver pâté with green peppercorns.)

Read more about bay leaves:

Please also read about black cardamom (Amomum subulatum):

WHB is on the road again and this week’s host is Kel (Green Olive Tree). The deadline for entering WHB#124 is Sunday 16 March 2008 at 15:00, Utah time (GMT-7). For complete details on how to participate in Weekend Herb Blogging, please see the following:

edit 17 March: Kel has posted “A whole lot of recipes from Weekend Herb Blogging“:


This entry was posted in crossblogging, food & drink, main course, posts with recipes, spicy, WHB on by .

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  • Kalyn

    I’m sorry to hear you’re having even more snow. Finally we’re having some sun here, but more snow is predicted, arghhh. This sounds delicious. This is something I haven’t eaten, but the combination of herbs and spices sounds great. And lucky you , having home-grown bay leaves.

    Thank you for the commiseration, Kalyn. The snow appears to be melting now (we can actually see huge expanses of sidewalk!) and today’s forecasted snow is supposed to turn to rain by tomorrow. Let’s hope that our weather office is right and that yours is wrong about the snow in your area. (Maybe we should learn how to do rain and/or sun dances)
    The two cardamoms and bay leaf in this stew are indeed fantastic. I hope you try it. Do let me know what you think. -Elizabeth

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  • Srivalli

    its interesting to read about rogan josh and other indian dishes, talked so freely..lovely to know you like them…

    edit: How could we not? Indian food is so wonderful. (I just hope that nobody will be horrified that we used pork instead of lamb or goat in our rogan josh!) -ejm