• Kokur rogan josh (Sarina Kamini)Source: Sarina Kamini
Rogan josh is not a dish, but a traditional Kashmiri cooking technique. Let's just say you’ll never look at chicken curry the same way again.
By
Sarina Kamini

18 Oct 2021 - 10:11 AM  UPDATED 18 Oct 2021 - 11:47 AM

Kokur rogan josh is the Sunday chicken roast of the Kashmiri Pandit family - homely and delicious and guaranteed to receive quite a joyful reception. It’s not a fancy dish. But like all Kashmiri food, the length of time taken to brown the meat is key. Without this browning process, the intensity of spice is missing.

This brings me to the next thing - the idea of rogan josh being viewed as a particular dish. Say the word “rogan josh” and what instantly comes to mind is a rich lamb curry. But rogan josh denotes a style of cooking, one that employs yoghurt, ghee, oil and asafoetida to create a rich gravy that receives the spice beautifully.

Kashmiri Pandit spicing is typically earthy, warm and quite dense. It isn’t driven by acidity or heat. Garam masala is normally present, as is aniseed or fennel powder. And always ginger powder - traditionally the climate in Kashmir was too cold to grow fresh ginger and so its lack of accessibility means that ginger powder (or dried ginger) is predominant.

In any case, the umami quality that comes from that rich rogan josh bed of fats and browning lifts and disperses the heavier weight of Kashmiri spice.  

True mountain food, this dish is warming, satisfying and deeply nourishing. I think of Dad every time I make it, and notice the way that my own two sons devour the chicken from the bones with the same enthusiasm that I once did - and still do.

I never mind taking the time when this kind of flavour is the result. 

 

Love this story? You can follow the author via Instagram @sarina_kamini. Photography, styling and food preparation by Sarina Kamini.


 

Kashmiri chicken curry (kokur rogan josh)

Serves 4

You will need to start this preparation 2-3 hours before cooking to allow for marinating time. 

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken Maryland, skin on
  • 1½ cups yoghurt
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 8 black cardamom pods, crushed lightly
  • 3 tbsp mustard oil
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cinnamon quills
  • 8 clove buds
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 3 tsp fennel powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala

Method

  1. Marinate the chicken in the yoghurt, salt and the black cardamom pods in the fridge for between three and four hours.
  2. Heat mustard oil in a heavy-based pot on the stovetop on medium-high heat, until a little water dropped into the oil spatters. Add the marinated chicken, asafoetida, bay leaves, cinnamon quills, and clove buds (being careful to avoid the spatter) and continue to cook on medium-high heat until the yoghurt dries and splits and the oil surfaces, which will take around 10 minutes.
  3. Lower the heat to medium and continue to brown the meat, turning the chicken and scraping the bottom of the pot to release the caramelised pieces that will stick to the bottom. Continue this process until the oil and yoghurt cook down to leave an almost dry pot. This will take around 45 minutes.
  4. Once the chicken is well browned and the liquid in the pot has reduced to almost nothing, mix the red chilli powder in a few tablespoons of water and add it to the pot. Stir it through for a few minutes until combined.
  5. Add 1 cup of water with the ginger powder, fennel powder and garam masala and turn back to medium-high heat. Continue to brown and stir the chicken until the water reduces and the gravy thickens into a rich, fragrant and caramelised paste around the heavily browned chicken pieces. 
  6. As the water dries, turn the pot down to medium-low heat to prevent the thick gravy from catching and burning. This whole process will take around 45 to 60 minutes.
  7. Serve with raita and rice.

Note

• Mustard oil and asafoetida can be found in all Indian and most Asian grocers. 

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