Mmmm, chicken korma. So many versions, not enough time to try them all! I think every recipe I’ve looked at or tried is different, so I’m not really sure what is a “true” korma. What korma means to me is a dish with a fragrant, creamy, light-colored gravy. Is that vague enough?
Anyway, I’ve tried making korma on my own based on what I thought it had in it or based on one of those conversations with your mom where they don’t really tell you amounts or precise steps, but rather what’s in it. These usually result in something that smells kind of like what I remember but something still isn’t right. I tried making a korma out of a low-fat Indian cookbook that was okay, but didn’t quite taste like what I remembered either. I didn’t want to try recipes that looked too involved or required me to make a nut paste since I’m lazy and that’s not really how it was made at home. I’m sure someday I’ll get around to trying all the different recipes, but for now I wanted something that tasted familiar. I think I’ve come close, even though it may not be exactly how my mom makes it.
As you know, I’ve been on a cookbook buying spree the past couple months. Before I buy something I usually research it, unless it’s one of those cookbooks in the bargain book section at Borders or Barnes and Noble, and then I grab, buy, and question its usefulness later because it may not be there next week. Anyway, in my Amazon-fueled research, Julie Sahni’s “Classical Indian Cooking” kept popping up as a must-have. Indeed, I remembered that we even had a copy of it at my parents’ house so I figured it must be pretty good. So to get to the point, I bought it, perused it, and decided that I needed to test it so I figured making the chicken korma recipe was a good start because it met my criteria of no nut pastes, no long spice lists, and low-complexity.
Verdict? Good call! It smelled so freakin’ good as it was all cooking and we were not disappointed when dinner came around. It got a thumbs-up from both the hubby and me.
And as usual, I have to tweak something in each recipe I try. In this case, I used boneless skinless chicken thighs instead of the breasts specified in the recipe, drastically reduced the amount of oil called for, used nonfat plain yogurt, and opted out of the heavy cream originally called for at the end of the recipe.
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 tbsp. canola oil
3 medium onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp ginger paste
12 cardamom pods (I smashed them slightly)
24 whole cloves
4 bay leaves
2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 tsp salt
Heat the oil over medium-high in a large pan and add the onions, cooking for a few minutes, then adding the garlic and ginger. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the onions are translucent. Add the whole spices and keep cooking until the spices and onions begin browning. Don’t brown it too much if you want your korma paler than mine looks in the picture.
Add the coriander and cayenne pepper. Now begin adding the yogurt a few spoonfuls at a time, combining thoroughly each time. The onion-yogurt mixture will be really thick at this point. Add the chicken and make sure everything is combined thoroughly. Cook for a few minutes to brown the chicken. Add the salt and water, stirring before you lower the heat to medium-low and cover. Simmer for about 20 minutes. If the gravy is still liquidy, then increase the heat and keep stirring so that the gravy reduces. You want the gravy to be thick and clinging to the chicken. Adjust salt if necessary.
This makes about 4 servings. We ate it with regular long-grain white rice, but basmati would be better.