One of India’s classic masalas for a reason, chicken korma is creamy, aromatic from a heady mix of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and fennel. This is a perfect weekend cook to share with some lucky family and friends.
Course Main Course
Prep Time 20minutes
Cook Time 50minutes
Marinating time 1hour
Total Time 1hour40minutes
2 poundsboneless skinless chicken thighs~ Cut in quarters, see first Note below
1tablespoonginger garlic paste~ Or 1 1/2 tsp each garlic & ginger, finely minced, buy or make
1tablespoonlemon juice~ Lime juice
3/4teaspoonsea or table salt~ Or 1 1/2 tsps of kosher salt. About substitutions
1tablespoonIndian white poppy seeds~ Optional; see second Note below
3tablespoonsghee or a neutral oil~ Buy ghee or make
Place 1 tablespoon of the ginger garlic paste in a bowl with lemon juice and salt. Mix and add chicken pieces; mix to coat thoroughly. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
While the chicken is marinating continue with the sauce. Puree cashews, poppy seeds (if using), and 1/3 cup of water in a blender (see last Note). Set aside.
In a small skillet over medium heat add fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, and cinnamon stick. Toast for a minute or two, until fragrant. Be sure not to over toast. Let cool for several minutes.
Using a spice grinder, blend to a fine powder. Pass the powder through a sieve, grinding any larger pieces again. Sieve again and discard the small amount of coarse spice left behind.
Heat 2 tablespoons of ghee or oil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat and add sliced ginger, sliced garlic, onions and salt. (If using ginger garlic paste, add after the onions have been cooked.) Cook until deeply caramelized; 25 minutes. Stir every couple of minutes and add a tablespoon of water, or more as needed, if the onions begin sticking on the bottom of the pan. Also, lower the heat if necessary, to avoid burning. Add the 1 tablespoon of ginger garlic paste now, if using instead of the sliced ginger and garlic, and cook for 1 minute.
Add the ground spices and the ground red chili to the onions, and stir for 1 minute to cook through and the paste no longer smells raw.
Puree mixture with 1/3 cup water and set aside.
Add remaining 1 tablespoons of ghee or oil to the pot, over medium heat. Add onion paste, the last tablespoon of the ginger garlic paste, and the green chili. Cook until the oil separates. About 5 to 6 minutes.
Add turmeric and paprika. Cook for 1 minute.
Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the marinated chicken. Cook for 4 minutes. Pour in 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook at a very gentle simmer, covered for about 12 minutes (8 minutes if using white meat), or until done.
Stir in the ground nuts, yogurt, and lemon juice. Cook about 3 minutes, until the sauce comes together.
Stir in 4 tablespoons of cream, if using. Taste for salt, acid, and heat. Add more lemon juice if needed.
Garnish as you wish with the above ideas.
I don’t typically recommend chicken breast in Indian chicken korma because it tends to dry out. This is one dish that you can get away with using white meat if you are careful not to overcook it. Lamb would be delicious too.
Indian poppy seeds are white and if you can’t find them, leave them out. You are going for a light-colored masala for this dish.
To create the magic of this curry, do not hasten the browning of the onions. Put on an audiobook, listen to a podcast, or better yet, have some engaging company in the kitchen, with a glass of something fun while you enjoy this step.
If you want a vegetarian meal, substitute paneer, or cubed potatoes instead of chicken.
If you want a dairy-free dish, substitute coconut yogurt for regular yogurt.
If you are having trouble getting a smooth paste for your nut and poppy seed puree, here are some solutions:
If you have a Vitamix or Indian grinder/mixie, both are perfect for getting a smooth consistency.
Also, a personal blender like a Bullet or Tribest works very well.
I have found that my Ninja blender failed, given the small volume of ingredients that you need to blend for this recipe.
Another option is to grind the cashews and poppy seeds (if using) in a spice grinder, then proceed with the recipe as written. Use a strainer to remove the larger pieces, if you find it is necessary.
Lastly, giving the nuts a soak for 15 minutes or more will help them break down