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rogan josh pasteIf today I were writing a recipe reflecting where I am at the moment, this wouldn’t be it. And despite the relative exoticism of the recipe, and therefore the geographic desirability of its origins, I am happy where I am. It is 24-hour warm, which is just about all I need in a place to be content. That and the more obvious things like good food (check), security (check), and enough money to get by (I hope). Regular readers will perhaps know where I might be, but for others, here’s a clue: Mickey Mouse. And another: Gulf of Mexico.

So, unless you think California, Shanghai, Tokyo or Paris are on the Gulf of Mexico, you will have guessed Florida. I am home visiting family, getting a needed hit of sun, not going to theme parks, reading loads, and eating. And eating some more.

At some point I will be whizzing up this spice paste to pop into my Dad’s freezer for him to use after I leave. And if we have time I will knock up the recipe that I will post next week, featuring as it does homemade paneer – ridiculously easy and fun to make. But mostly I am being taken to the many new eateries that are springing up, like enthusiastic Labradors – welcoming and eager to please.

The past few days have been spent on Anna Maria Island, a dot of a place in a string of bridge-connected barrier  islands that parallel the southwest mainland cities of Sarasota and Bradenton. It is idyllic with its nearly empty bleached-white beaches, low-rise homes and condos, and lack of traffic. A resort town hiding in plain sight. This is where I was married, but even without this sentimental connection, it would be one of my favourite places on Earth. But it has come to mean  family, and holds many happy memories.

Although we ate simply and by our own hand, we did discover upon leaving the island two stylish and delicious new places to eat – Poppo’s Taqueria and Anna Maria Island Donuts. Both are very small enterprises, the latter being just a young bubbly couple making all donuts up to order. I am not normally a sweet person but after our very early lunch next door of – in my case – spiced tempeh with seasoned pinto beans, brown rice, pickled red onions, guacamole, freshly made green chilli sauce, and herbs over honey-lime red cabbage – we each indulged in a bespoke freshly made donut. These were as far away from Krispy Kreme and Dunkin Donuts as is possible to get. The donuts are freshly made with not a trace of the fat in which it is cooked; slightly crisp with a soft but not airy or doughy interior. Not sweet either, although there is of course a little sugar in the dough. It is a donut after all! My sister, who has a knowledgeable and discerning sweet tooth, said hers was the best donut she had ever had. She said they are the kind of treat worth the trip alone. I don’t want to say she has a lot of experience in donut tasting, but I trust her opinion, especially because it mirrored mine. Of the seven icing/coating options I chose caramel, and topped it with chopped peanuts and sea salt. Simple and simply delicious. We all had something different, and we did a thing my fellow non-sharers and germphobes usually abhor: we passed them around for tasting and appraisal. All anyone walking past would have heard was a symphony of satisfied mmm’s and a bit of finger licking.

Both shops are in a tiny and sympathetically designed development on Pine Avenue, light years removed from the soul-less, bland ‘strip malls’ that blight many of Florida’s highways and roads. You could just as easily cycle or walk here as drive up in a car (open-topped or full-spec SUV please), which is unusual in Florida. Impressions are that these businesses are more than thriving, which hopefully means that this area at least is heralding a new wave of confidence in the economy, and life in general. Of course I didn’t think that while I was sitting there, munching down on my spicy tempeh. I was just about  happy enough watching the coolest people I have ever seen in real life stroll up and place their orders to the Chris Hemsworth lookalike. But I did just wonder: when can I have a donut?

rogan josh pasteRogan Josh Spice Paste

This Week 2011: Lemon Geranium Cake

This Week 2012: Five Seed No-Knead Bread

Miss R’s Track of the Week: Entertainment by Phoenix – brilliant!

Resist the tempting ready-made spice pastes, with their preserving slicks of oil and their artery-hardening sodium levels, and make this easy, freezeable mix instead. Although rogan josh is usually a rather hot and pungent beast, please tame as required by nixing or reducing the fiery dried chillies. The resulting paste should have a good, concentrated whack of flavour and heat: it will be sweetened and tamed when other fresh ingredients are later added.

This paste is enough to serve four to six in a vegetable or vegetable and protein-based curry. To use once made, add a little oil in a medium-hot pan, karai or wok, and stir-fry a chopped onion and 400-500 grams of  meat, chicken, prawns, tempeh or tofu for five minutes, followed by the paste. Add in approximately 750 grams of evenly sliced vegetables, stirring to coat. Stir-fry for a few minutes before adding 500 ml of water or coconut milk, or a combination of the two. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and bubble away until the vegetables are cooked to your taste. I like to add lemon or lime juice at the end of the cooking time, as well as chopped fresh coriander leaves. You may wish to add some salt too. Serve with steamed rice or chapati.

My next post will tell you how I use this paste to make a delicious and beautiful beetroot, tomato and homemade paneer curry.

Ingredients and Directions: Puree together 3 fat peeled garlic cloves with a thumb-sized (30g) piece of peeled gingerroot, juice of half a lemon, 1 red chilli (deseeded or not, as you wish) and 1 tsp of salt.

Roast in a hot dry pan (I use a cast iron skillet): a 5 cm piece of cinnamon stick, 4 green cardamom pods, 5 whole cloves, 1 tsp peppercorns, 2 tsp coriander seeds, 2 tsp cumin seeds, 3 birds’ eye chillies (optional – very hot). Whiz these up to a powder in a spice or coffee grinder, then mix with the pureed garlic, ginger and chilli, 2 tsp ground turmeric*, 2 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp hot paprika or chilli powder (optional),  ¾ tsp fenugreek powder (or roast 1 tsp of the seeds, above) and 3 heaped tbsp of concentrated tomato paste.

Use immediately or pop into a clean jar, label and store in your freezer. To use from frozen, let the paste defrost enough to loosen from the jar; use as for freshly made.

Makes 100 grams of paste – enough for 4-6 servings. *I accidentally left out the turmeric when first posted. Please use!rogan josh paste

beetroot tomato curry with paneer

next post: beetroot and tomato rogan josh with homemade paneer

31 thoughts on “Rogan Josh Spice Paste and My Donut Revelation

  1. This looks amazing and so simple! I will have to give this a go sometime in the not too distant future! MMMmm Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment. I do hope you try it some time.

  2. G’day I LOVE Rogan Josh and will be making this sometime soon, TRUE!
    Interesting flavor combination too!
    What’s On The List?

  3. Anne says:

    Kellie, did you make it to my cousin’s wife Jennae’s very chic shop on Pine Ave? It is called “Pink and Navy”. I’ll be in Anna Maria in about 8 weeks (not that I’m counting). I’ll have to check out the new food! Enjoy the remainder of your trip!

    1. Hi Anne, no we didn’t. We were driving back to Tampa and my nephew declared he was starving (we were all rumbling actually) just as I saw Poppo’s. My sis did a U-turn and in we went. What a great decision! But sadly we didn’t linger or stop to see what else Pine Avenue had to offer. We are in the area again in October (my family too) so we will certainly stop by. I hope you are well and enjoying some good spring weather!

  4. Shannon says:

    I enjoyed the narrative. You have an amazingly inviting writing style. Hope you enjoy your stateside visit. I’m marking this for future use. Kitchen about to be torn out, so probably won’t be able to try until fall. Big fan of rogan josh in the restaurants; yours looks positively doable! Thanks. Cheers!

    1. Wow! Lucky you getting a new kitchen. But I don’t envy the disruption. That’s what always stops me doing home improvements. And thank you for the encouraging comment 😀

  5. Maria Tadic says:

    This spice paste looks really good. I love making stuff like this at home. Always tastes so much better and usually a lot better for you! Can’t wait to try this out.

  6. Look at those colors, beautiful! I look forward to the next recipe.

    1. Once I get over the jet lag I will be posting it. I am a terrible traveler but I hope it won’t take too long for the brainfog to clear. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

  7. Lissa says:

    I bet this is divine! Some flatmates of mine used to make their own curry pastes – so much more delicious than the store bought variety.

    1. Sounds like you had some great roommates – I hope they shared 😀 Homemade is usually better, and I hope in this case it is.

  8. Mm, just as well I’m not the jealous type….you are on your white beach and I am sitting in a hall (and its been sleeting this week btw) listening to a debate on pros and cons of Scottish independence….oh, where would I rather be, her hum…

    Seriously though, thanks for telling us about the glorious Anna Maria Island, I’ve enjoyed all your links,it looks wonderful. I look forward to having you back in bonnie Scotland soon though and guess what, another new cafe/bistro that has sprung up in Edinburgh that we must try out, way hey 🙂

    Safe journey home x

    1. Well, I am just getting ready to catch my plane home. I love being here but it is hard being away from Mr A and Miss R. Today is a good day to leave as thunderstorms are predicted, so no laying out by the pool before I go (what I usually do to get my last dose of sun for awhile!). Will defo see you soon for a visit to the new café. Not the one in S’bridge I bet!

  9. Looking forward to trying this out. Hope you are having a wonderful time enjoying the Florida sunshine!

    1. Thanks Linda. I’ve had a brilliant time seeing my family and basking in a little sunshine. Let me know if you try it. And thanks for the tweet!

  10. lizzygoodthings says:

    Kellie, ir’s always such a joy to stop in and visit with you. Your recipes are inspiring, your words tell such a great tale… trust you’re enjoying the change of surroundings and spending time with your loved ones. Talk soon. xox

  11. Ann says:

    I need one of those doughnuts right NOW! Safe journey home xx

    1. See you soon. With a tan! But sadly no donuts…

  12. laura_howtocook says:

    Wow the colour of that paste is so lovely, I also can’t wait to read about your use of beetroot in a curry. Now that I must try. Once you make your own pastes and curries I do find it impossible to buy them as they don’t taste as good but I do use a Bart curry mix for my Coronation chicken though!

    1. Yes, I like Barts and Steenbergs for spice blends, and to mix in with my own stuff, especially when we are on a self-catering holidays. I have brought my Dad a few North African-ish spice blends to get him to cook more. No shame in using bought stuff if it is good and the real thing. I can’t think when I last had Coronation chicken. Maybe we almost have the weather for it now?

  13. Jacqueline @How to be a Gourmand says:

    I love stumbling upon little gems – that doughnut place sounds like a real find with such wonderful toppings. A beautiful spice paste. Sounds like you are spoiling your dad. Just as it should be!
    Enjoy the rest of your time in Florida.

    1. Thanks so much Jacqueline. I’m back now but the cool wind make me wish I could hop back on that plane!

  14. Ooooh, look at your template now! I love it, it’s very clean and fresh looking. Those donuts sound amazing. I haven’t had a really mind blowing donut in far too long. Perhaps I’ll have to trek to Florida to experience one!

  15. My daughter’s name is Anna Maria…..we will have to visit! (for the donuts if nothing else!)

  16. Sally says:

    My daughter’s middle names are Anna Maria! Lovely post – you must be in need of the warmth. A good donut (or doughnut as I say) is a wonderful thing. I just don’t understand the appeal of the KK etc. My vegetarian daughter has just decided she loves paneer so I’m looking forward to the next post. Enjoy your break (loved the analogy of restaurants and labradors)

    1. Thanks for commenting, Sally. Yeah, I have had the odd KK back in the day(not DD though) as my Dad used to love them. He has since seen the light! Unfortunately he was in another car on the way back from Anna Maria so he missed on a truly fantastic sweet treat.

  17. Natalie Ward says:

    Perfect thank you, will be making the beetroot lentil curry tomorrow! And I have to say that sea salt caramel peanut donuts sound amazing!!

  18. sylviadewy says:

    awesome! Thanks for this spice recipe.. I am definitely going try this out. I guess it will go perfect with other Indian recipes too!!

    1. Absolutely! I just happened to put it with paneer &beetroot but of course it will go with any protein choice & robust vegetable. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment

      1. sylviadewy says:

        awesome.. I was planning to use this spice in some chicken or lamb dishes. I will let you know how it turned out to be 🙂

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