A Robust Rogan Josh

I hope you all enjoyed the first episode from my ‘Irish Food Trails’ TV series. It follows on from the ‘Basque Food Trails’ that was on our screens last year. In the first episode I cooked this lovely Rogan Josh and I hope you enjoy it. Check out the trailer for the new show which is on RTE One at 7:30 on Wednesday nights.

This is a wonderfully robust curry filled with punchy flavours. It only improves with time, so if you’re making it for a special occasion, then try to do it a couple of days in advance. I think a curry like this is an excellent way to feed a crowd and this recipe can be easily scaled up to suit your numbers.

Serves 4

4 tbsp rapeseed oil

675g (1½lb) pork shoulder or tenderloin (fillet), well trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces

6 whole cloves

1 small cinnamon stick

2 bay leaves

2 large onions, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

5cm (2in) root ginger, peeled and finely grated

1 tbsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp paprika

¼ tsp ground cardamom

15g (½oz) fresh coriander, finely chopped, reserving enough to garnish

200ml (7fl oz) thick Greek yogurt, plus extra to serve

1 x 400g (14oz) tin of chopped tomatoes

100g (4oz) red lentils

300ml (½ pint) chicken stock (homemade or made up from a cube)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

steamed fragrant rice, to serve (see separate recipe)

cucumber raita and Sriracha spiced yoghurt, to serve (see separate recipes)

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large pan. Add half of the pork and fry until nicely browned all over.

Transfer to a plate and fry the rest of the meat. Set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan, then fry the cloves, cinnamon stick and bay leaves for a few seconds. Add the onions and fry for 6–7 minutes, until nicely browned. Add the garlic, chilli and ginger and fry for 2 minutes, then add the ground spices with the fresh coriander and fry for another minute. Add the yogurt a tablespoon at a time, frying for about 30 seconds between each addition.

Return the pork to the pan and stir in the tomatoes with the lentils and stock. Season to taste, cover and simmer very gently for about 2 hours (or 1 hour if using tenderloin), until the pork is meltingly tender but still holding its shape and the sauce has reduced and thickened.

Spoon the pork rogan josh onto warmed plates with the fragrant steamed rice and add a dollop of yogurt to each one, then garnish with the coriander leaves. Hand around the cucumber raita and Sriracha spiced yoghurt separately.

Steamed fragrant rice

This recipe uses basmati rice, the undisputed queen of rice. It actually triples in length as it cooks and fills the house with the most heavenly scent. You can omit frying the spices and bay leaf in the oil if you are serving it with more Oriental-inspired or plain dishes.

Serves 4–6

350g (12oz) basmati rice

1 tbsp sunflower oil

4 whole cloves

4 green cardamom pods, cracked

5cm (2in) piece of cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

600ml (1 pint) boiling water

½ tsp salt

Wash the rice in numerous changes of cold water until the water runs relatively clear. Cover with more cold water and leave to soak for 7 minutes, then drain well.

Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan that is approximately 20cm (8in) in diameter. Add the cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and bay leaf and cook gently over a low heat for 1–2 minutes, until they start to smell aromatic.

Stir in the rice and add the boiling water and salt, then quickly bring to the boil. Stir once, cover with a tight-fitting lid, reduce the heat to low and cook over a low heat for 12 minutes. Uncover, fluff up the grains with a fork and serve at once.

Cucumber raita

A cool, fresh chutney that takes seconds to make. Use it to top fiery curries or as a dip for poppadoms or cruditiés. It’s also delicious smeared into wraps.

Makes about 300ml (½ pint)

½ cucumber

250ml (9fl oz) natural yogurt

juice of ½ lemon

1 small garlic clove, finely grated

½ green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

large handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the cucumber in half, then use a teaspoon to scoop out the seeds and discard them. Grate the flesh and place in a tea towel, then squeeze out all the excess water. Put in a bowl with the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, chilli and mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cover with cling film. Keep in the fridge until needed.

Sriracha spiced yogurt

Sriracha is a hot chilli sauce made from a paste of chilli peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. It’s named after the costal city of Si Racha in the Chonburi province of eastern Thailand, where is was first produced for dishes served at local seafood restaurants. Thankfully, now all major supermarkets are stocking it here. It’s just wonderful stirred into yogurt to be used as a spicy dressing for salads or as a dip.

Makes about 300ml (½ pint)

250ml (9fl oz) natural yogurt

juice of ½ lemon

2 tbsp Sriracha sauce

1 tsp smoked paprika

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the yogurt in a bowl and mix together with the lemon juice, Sriracha sauce and paprika and season with salt and pepper. Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge until needed.

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