Many people mistakenly believe that a “korma” is a mild Indian curry dish. While this may be true, the word korma actually refers to a complex cooking style or technique that involves braising various meats in yogurt, cream or coconut milk. Traditionally, this would have meant placing a heavy pot over a low fire. In addition, hot charcoals would have been placed on top of the lid to ensure even heat and proper cooking. Thankfully, modern times have made cooking this dish much simpler!
The “korma” style of cooking has its origins in Mughlai cuisine. Needless to say, the variations are simply endless. You could easily substitute fish, seafood, vegetables, paneer or any meat of your liking in this recipe. Just note that cooking times will vary accordingly.
1 lb of boneless/skinless chicken, cut into about 1˝” size pieces
1 large onion, finely chopped
3-4 large garlic cloves, finely minced
1˝” piece of ginger, peeled & finely minced
3-4 small green Thai chilies, cut in half lengthwise (to taste)
˝ cup raw unsalted almonds (you can use cashew, pistachios or a combination of nuts)
1 tsp turmeric (haldi)
˝ tsp ground cumin powder
1 tsp ground coriander powder
2-3 green cardamom pods, crushed
1” piece of cinnamon
1 bay leaf
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
good pinch of saffron, soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk
1 cup of cream (or yogurt or coconut milk or any combination)
salt & pepper, to taste
juice of ˝ lime (or lemon)
2-3 tbsp oil (canola or vegetable), you can use ghee if you prefer
freshly chopped cilantro leaves, for garnish
2 tbsp unsalted almond pieces, toasted for garnish (use whatever nuts you have used in the recipe)
Soak the almonds (or nuts of choice) in a small bowl of boiling hot water for 15-20 minutes. Drain well and using a blender or food processor, blend into a fine paste using a little cream, yogurt or coconut milk to help along with the blending process.
In a medium size glass mixing bowl, combine the lime juice with ˝ tsp of the turmeric, salt & pepper. Stir to combine and then add the chicken pieces. Marinate for at least 4 hours, the longer the better (overnight is best).
In a large deep skillet or wok on medium heat, add the oil. When hot, add the whole spices (cloves, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick & bay leaf). Let the spices fry for just a minute before adding the onion. Stir-fry until the onion is soft & translucent and then add the ginger, garlic & green chilies. After a few minutes of stir-frying, add the rest of the turmeric along with the ground cumin powder, ground coriander powder, salt & pepper. Also, at this point, add the ground almond paste along with the cream (or coconut milk).
*If you wish to add yogurt, turn the heat off completely and allow the pan to cool down for just a couple of minutes. If you add the yogurt to a very hot pan, it will curdle. Stir in the yogurt, bring the heat to low & proceed with the recipe as directed below.
Reduce the heat to low and add the chicken, cover & let simmer for 8-10 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked through yet still tender. You may also add the marinating liquid. Do not overcook the chicken. Remove the lid and add the saffron along with its soaking milk and the freshly grated nutmeg. Mix well to evenly distribute the saffron & nutmeg throughout the curry. Garnish with toasted nuts & cilantro leaves. Serve with fresh rotis or naans and fragrant Basmati rice.