The food culture of Kashmir has been heavily influenced by trespassing foreigners, starting with the Persian invasion, followed by Alexander the Great, the Turks, and Central Asians. Timur, one of the best-known nomadic leaders of Central Asia, invaded India during the fifteenth century, and in his wake came skilled woodcrafters, calligraphers, weavers, architects, and cooks from Samarkand (now located in Uzbekistan). The descendants of these cooks, the wazas, are the master chefs of Kashmir. A wazwan is an unforgettable sumptuous thirty- to thirty-five-course feast usually reserved for special occasions, like weddings. Roghan josh, a Kashmiri specialty often served at wazwans, is a blending of Persian and Indian cultures. This decadent, rich preparation of lamb is great for holidays and best made the day before or the morning of for the flavors to really come together.
Masala: Recipes from India, the Land of Spices by Anita Jaisinghani is available to order now.
- ½ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- ¼ cup grated ripe or green papaya
- 3 tablespoons mustard oil
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- tablespoon minced garlic, see recipe below
- generous pinch of saffron
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 4 lamb hind shanks
- ¼ cup ghee
- 1 teaspoon lightly crushed green cardamom seeds
- 1 teaspoon lightly crushed fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon lightly crushed fenugreek seeds
- ½ cup caramelized onion puree
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 to 2 tablespoons Kashmiri chile powder
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
- ¼ cup ginger puree, see recipe below
- medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch wheels
- 2 large carrots, cut into 1-inch wheels
- 1 teaspoon garam masala, see recipe below
- 2 teaspoons rose water
- 2 tablespoons amchur dried mango powder
- 1 pound ginger
- about 1 cup water
- 2 cups peeled garlic cloves
- approximately 1⁄4 cup olive oil
- In a large storage container, combine the yogurt, papaya, mustard oil, black pepper, cinnamon, garlic, saffron, and salt. Add the lamb and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Spread the shanks on a large, deep baking pan and roast uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes, until the shanks are slightly caramelized and browned.
- Meanwhile, to make the masala: In a medium saucepan, heat the ghee over medium heat. Add the cardamom seeds, fennel seeds, and fenugreek seeds. Stir in the onion puree, cumin, and chile powder; cook for a few seconds; then add the coconut milk. Simmer for just 2 to 3 minutes to incorporate the spices in the coconut milk, then add 2 cups water and bring to a boil. Stir in the yogurt and ginger puree and pour the mixture around the roasted shanks. Place the parsnips and carrots around the shanks.
- Cover the top or seal the pan with foil, lower the oven temperature to 250°F, and roast for 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. The sauce should have thickened around the shanks, but if it appears too watery, take the foil off and place the pan back in the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
- Turn the oven off, and stir in the garam masala, rose water, and amchur. Leave in the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes for the flavors to meld. This dish is best eaten an hour or two after it has been prepared or the next day.
- Ginger is ground zero for most of my cooking; I use it in most preparations from savories to sweets. When buying ginger, seek out pieces with translucent and tender skin. If the only ginger available has thick brown skin, pick pieces with as few nubs and bruises as possible. Do not peel ginger—in India it is commonly believed that ginger’s maximum flavor lies just beneath the skin. Considered warming, cleansing, and stimulating, ginger has been regarded as medicine in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine for over five thousand years. Ginger is one of the most highly recommended aids for digestion, muscular pain, and constipation. Ginger juice mixed with honey is good for treating congestion and facilitates breathing by opening up wind passages.
- Cut the ginger into ½-to 1-inch pieces—if any of the skin appears tough, slice it off and discard it, but otherwise leave the peel on. Pour the water into the bowl of a blender, then add the chopped ginger. Blend in short intervals, turning the mixture around with a spatula to get at all of it, until pureed. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator, where it will keep for up to 2 weeks. Use the puree with the liquid unless specified otherwise.
- In India, garlic is considered sweet, pungent, and warming and is as much a medicine as it is a flavoring ingredient. It has been known to remove plaque from arteries and purify and increase blood flow. It can be used as an antiseptic, sedative, and disinfectant. Some Indians believe that a small garlic clove swallowed each morning gives vitality and virility and rejuvenates the intestines.
- In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the garlic until finely minced. Store in an airtight container with a thin layer of the oil on top for up to 1 month in the refrigerator. As long as there is a layer of oil over the minced garlic, it will keep without spoiling or losing flavor.
Reprinted with permission from Masala: Recipes from India, the Land of Spices by Anita Jaisinghani, copyright © 2022. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.