Rogan Josh, Red Lamb Stew, is a dish made in many variations in ingredients. It’s red because of hot red peppers or ground paprika. This is the most popular of my easy lamb curry recipes, which is red from both peppers and slow simmered tomatoes.
This Red Lentil Puree is the best dal recipe because it matches the Lamb Curry and basmati rice perfectly… and it’s easy to prepare, healthy for you, and so full of flavor.
Ah, exotic India. If you recall, the Crusaders brought back spices and silks, and new food ideas to Europe in the 11th, 12th, and 13th Centuries. Some were sourced in India. And Portugal laid claim to The State of India (part of the west coast) from 1505, so food from India could well have been known to Pirate Captains of England and France, as well as the Spanish Captains, during the Golden Age of Pirates, 1650-1725.
I had the honor of visiting Chennai (the old Madras) and the surrounding SE India in July-August in 2000 and again in January 2001. I was housed in a room at the University apartments, where I was a visiting professor teaching a new course in the Professional Deveopment Program – Internet Marketing.
My students took me around Chennai for food and shopping. Coffee shops and conversation. Fish Tikka, curries, aloo, gobi, sem, paratha, curd (yogurt), and the aromas of fresh ginger and garlic ground into paste with oil, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, hot chili peppers, cooked up in hot oil with lentils, lamb, chicken, shrimp, basmati rice… Oh, the memories are still so vivid.
When they discovered that I loved Indian food and was a cook, my students presented me with two cookbooks. They were filled with Indian food recipes of many traditions from all around the country. And from these I learned a whole new cuisine. Fabulous, fascinating food. Delicious, Aromatic, Healthy, Complex, Dazzling, Exotic.
It’s an adventure to cook… and to eat!
Healthy Indian Recipes
Indian food is so satisfying when it’s home-cooked. When you combine fresh spices, meats, seasonings, herbs, vegetables, chili peppers, yogurt, lentils, and relishes, you get a centuries-old tradition of titillating the palate.
Indian food is incredibly healthy because it preserves the chemical balance of our bodies and brains. It is wholesome with endless flavors. Because you control the source of the ingredients and spices and the cooking techniques, it’s easy to enjoy healthy Indian recipes like these.
Indian Lentil Puree
Dal is a preparation of lentils that is a staple of Indian cuisine. It’s likely to be served at Indian tables as a protein where meat is either too expensive or prohibited by religion. When it is pureed, it can be thin and used as a soup or thick and used as a side dish. Both are eaten with rice. This is the best dal recipe because it’s easy and so full of flavor.
- 1 C Lentils (yellow, green, or red)
- 3 C Water, in all
- 1 small Onion, diced
- 1 T Garlic, minced
- 1 T peeled fresh Ginger, minced
- ½ tsp ground Turmeric
- 1 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
- 2 fresh Serrano chilies, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 C Diced Tomatoes
- 2 T chopped fresh Cilantro
- Place Lentils in a saucepan, cover with 2 C water, add onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and simmer
covered until the lentils are tender, 20-25 minutes.
- Puree everything in a food processor and return it to the saucepan.
- Stir in 1 C Water and Salt and simmer, partially covered, about 20 minutes. You want the dal to be thick and creamy.
- Stir in the Serranos, tomatoes, and cilantro. The tomato taste stays fresh, the peppers stay crunchy and you feel the heat when you bite them, and the cilantro is sharp and distinct. Excellent complexity of tastes and textures for such a simple, easy dish.
Lamb Curry with Tomatoes (Rogan Josh)
This royal rogan josh is surprisingly delicious with a richly reduced tomato sauce. And because it’s so popular and an easy lamb curry recipe to prepare, all of my guests have asked for the recipe. And afterwards, I hear they served it to their guests and it’s been a satisfying hit.
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground curry powder (Madras Hot)
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground red pepper (Cayenne is fine)
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp Pink Himalayan Salt
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
- 1/4 C olive oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced rings
- 1 T minced fresh garlic
- 1 T grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1½ lbs boneless lamb stew meat, trimmed and cut into ½” to ¾” cubes
- 2 T chopped fresh cilantro
- Mix the seasonings in a small glass bowl.
- Drain tomatoes, and save the juice.
- Heat the oil in a heavy 4-qt pot or Dutch oven over high heat, 4-5 min, until oil just starts to smoke.
- Add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened and evenly golden brown, 5-7 min.
- Reduce heat to medium-high; add garlic, ginger, and seasoning mix; cook, stirring, 2 min.
- Add ¼ C tomato juice and scrape up anything that may have stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Stir in ½ C tomatoes and the Lamb.
- Reduce the heat to simmer, stir occasionally, until the liquid is cooled down and thickened slightly, 5-7 min.
- Stir in the remaining tomatoes and juice.
- Cover and maintain heat at simmer. Cook until the lamb is tender, 45 to 60 min for the cubes (15-20 min if you’re using ground lamb).
- Skim any fat from the surface of the liquid, increase heat to medium and simmer briskly until the sauce is cooked down and thickened.
- Stir in the cilantro.
Serve over Hot Cooked Basmati Rice, with Indian Lentil Puree (Dal), and Roti (Bread): Naan, Paratha, etc.
The best source of knowledge about what foods Pirates ate is A New Voyage Round the World by William Dampier.
It’s a 3-Volume set of his journals, published from 1699 to 1709. He was a scholar, soldier, laborer, land owner, businessman, Pirate, Captain of 2 merchant ships, and gentleman.
His writings covered the winds, currents and geography for more accurate maps; food, people, culture not only of ports of call but of the scalawags, ruffians, and Privateers’ battles and mutinies on board ships; and added a more concise science of plants and animals to the knowledge base of England.
His adventures took him around the Atlantic, Caribbean, Central America, around South America, across to Australia, SE Asia, and India, around Africa and back to England. His volumes were well received by society and scholars thirsty for knowledge of the New Worlds.
Because he was so adventurous at sampling the local foods, he was declared the first Global Foodie.
Leave a comment if you are so moved. Ask a question about India or Dampier or being a Foodie Pirate. And let me know when you make this for your folks, be they family, friends, or seadogs looking to pilfer some vittles. This is after all an excellent Pirate Party Food Recipe.
A Foodie Pirate? Why, gee, that’s me!
Cooking for Pirates, where every meal is a party for a Pirate.