Traveling through India is a foodie’s delight. There are times to be careful, but the rewards are unmistakable – flavour combos at the edge of imagination, spices from a mystical pantry. There were a few dishes that repeatedly stood out. Lamb Rogan Josh was at the top of the heap. And two times in particular it exceeded all expectations.
The first was at fancy restaurant in Udaipur. My girlfriend and I felt royal as we dined outside under bright white tents. We sipped Duru, a peculiar alcohol made with saffron, cardamom and anise seed…. and had our jaws slowly dissolve to the floor as we kissed the most tender lamb – bathed in a elusive sauce who’s taste can only be described as kaleidoscopic. I prodded our server for secrets all night.
The second Rogan Josh standout was inside a slum in Jaipur. It wasn’t one of those slums where you paid a tour guide to show you around. It was one of those slums where you get approached on the street by a stranger who invites you in; the kind where you assess the situation over lunch. The kind of slum where 70 little kids dressed in taters marvel at the colour of your skin and the glow of your hair. It was a magical day. I chipped in for a celebratory dinner, and watched our hosts fire up a giant pot that soon produced the kind of flavours that were everything but impoverished. Yes, the ambiance of kids dancing and banging drums, and the hugs, sitting on the dirt floor and telling stories brought a special richness to the feast. I guess that’s the beauty of food, it absorbs the flavour of the entire atmosphere.
Let this soul-smackingly-good recipe evoke the spirit of India. Rattle the sights and sounds and smells. Let it conjure the lovely chaos.