This may be the wrong thing to admit in the first sentence of a post about chicken korma, but I have a confession to make: I don't entirely know what proper chicken korma is. Although I've eaten it countless times, I've ever had the same korma twice. A quick flickr search suggests that I'm not alone, either — korma seems to come in all shapes, sizes, and colours.
I have a bit of an idea, though. When I think of korma I think of a rich, creamy gravy, warm, sweet spices, and nutty, mellow flavours. As the story goes korma was first made for rich North Indian merchants wanted their curries to be as luxurious as possible, so unsurprisingly korma is not dish done by halves. Cook this low and slow to ensure as tender chicken as possible, and for the best results cook it the day before you plan to eat it. This is good advice for all curries, but the subtle flavours in this curry benefit particularly well from a night in the fridge before serving.
For the onion paste:
- 1 onion, sliced thinly
- Vegetable oil
1. Spread the sliced onions out on kitchen paper and salt well. Leave this for 20 minutes.
2. Heat enough vegetable oil to deep fry the onions until well-browned (but not burnt).
3. Puree the fried onions in a blender, adding just enough of the (cooled) frying oil to make a paste.
For the curry:
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp ghee
- 1 blade mace
- 5 cloves
- 6 cardamom pods
- 4cm piece of cinnamon
- 1 small onion, blended to a paste
- 2 tbsp garlic & ginger paste
- 600g boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 tbsp roasted cashew nuts, ground
- 1 tbsp blanched almonds, ground
- 1/2 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground garam masala
- 1 quantity of fried onion paste (above)
- 150 ml cream
- 1/4 tsp saffron threads
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
1. Add the mace, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom to the vegetable oil and ghee, and bring to a medium heat. When the spices become fragrant, add the blended raw onion and cook until it just begins to go golden. Stir in the garlic & ginger paste and ground nuts and cook for another 2 minutes.
2. Add the chicken, chilli powder, ground coriander, and sugar and stir well to coat the chicken. Cook for 3 minutes, then pour over about 1/3 cup of water with the garam masala and fried onion paste (above). Bring this to a very gentle simmer, then cover and cook until the chicken is very tender.
3. Add the cream and bring to a low boil. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then stir in the saffron and fresh coriander and remove from the heat. Cover and let stand for at least 10 minutes before serving, or ideally refrigerate overnight and serve the next day with basmati rice or naan bread.