Mughlai cuisine is very rich in both taste and ingredients. It is predominant in the northern part of India and is characterized by its unique cooking styles and methods. Their most famous contribution being the “tandoor” (a clay oven capable of withstanding very high temperatures and fueled by coal). Mughlai food is laden with delicious nuts and dried fruits (dates, apricots, sultanas…). Their sauces are creamy and buttery. Mughlai cuisine is definitely a feast for all of one’s senses.
Famous Mughlai dishes include Tandoori Chicken, Chicken Tikka Masala, Kebabs, Biryanis and Naans. My Badami Murgh (Chicken with Almonds) is a perfect example of the Mughlai cuisine at its finest – succulent pieces of tender chicken simmered delicately in a rich nutty curry.
Almonds are both very healthy & nutritious; they contain large amounts of Vitamin B-12 and also Vitamin E. They are also thought to contain cholesterol lowering properties & promote overall cardiovascular health. Almonds may also help in lowering one’s risk for diabetes. Almonds are a large part of the heart smart Mediterranean diet & should be consumed daily in its raw form (in moderation, of course) for maximum benefits.
BADAMI CHICKEN (Chicken with Almonds)
Yield: serves 6
1 lb of boneless, skinless chicken pieces cut into 2 inch pieces
4 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely minced garlic
˝ tbsp finely minced ginger
3 small tomatoes, finely chopped
1 cinnamon stick
4 black cardamom pods, gently crushed
1 tsp ground cumin powder
2 tsp ground coriander powder
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chili powder
12 almonds, toasted and ground into a fine powder
˝ cup of oil (vegetable or canola)
salt & pepper, to taste
4 tbsp of slivered almonds (garnish)
1 cup of cream (light is fine)
Juice of 1 lime
Freshly chopped cilantro leaves
Marinate the chicken pieces in the lime juice, salt and pepper. It is easiest to do this in a plastic zip bag; it allows the chicken to be thoroughly and evenly coated in the marinade. For best results, refrigerate overnight or for at least 4 hours.
In a large dry skillet on medium heat, gently toast the slivered almonds until fragrant. Stir continuously so as not to burn. Once they are lightly toasted, remove quickly from the heat and set aside for garnish.
Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in the same skillet on medium high heat, add the onions and fry until golden brown. Then add the ginger and garlic, stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Next add the cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and cloves. Stir fry for an additional 2-3 minutes and then add the ground almonds and the rest of the spices (ground cumin, ground coriander, turmeric and chili powder). Add the chicken pieces and fry for 5-6 minutes, add the tomatoes and the cream. Combine well and bring to a gentle boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer gently for 30 minutes. Garnish with the toasted almonds and cilantro. Serve with buttery naans & fragrant Basmati pulao.
Try making this dish with cashews, pistachios or a combination of nuts. You can also add raisins or sultanas to the dish. Soak the raisins of sultanas in just a little warm water for 10 minutes to plump them up. Then add the raisins (along with the soaking liquid) to the dish along with the chicken pieces. This will add a subtle sweet flavor to the taste.