Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Chicken Korma In a...storm-a?

Sorry about the title. But everyone's heard of Chicken Curry In a Hurry, right? So, when I made Chicken Korma and there was a blizzard, since it, like curry, is Indian food, my brain started rhyming things until I came up with...well, that. (The blizzard was last week. The town next to me was reported to have 15 inches of snow. I think we only got a foot, but still, a foot of snow at the end of February is quite a lot.)

I love Indian food. It's delicious. At some point, I realized I could make Indian food all by myself and not have to go out for dinner. When I first went to do so and walked into an Indian grocery store and discovered how cheap everything was, all I could think was, Why do I not do this ALL THE TIME?! Seriously--you're probably used to buying spices in a normal grocery store. Don't. Usually, an average-sized bottle of average-quality spices (and I'm thinking powder spices here, not dried herbs) is around 2 ounces and 6 dollars. At the Indian grocery, the containers are 7 ounces and under 3 dollars and they're much better quality. And it's not like they only have really weird things like asafetida. They carry pretty much anything. So, next time you need spices, check an Indian grocery store first. (I understand that most 'ethnic' grocers are like this, but I don't have experience with the other ones, especially the ones that sell spices. It's probably worth checking out anyway.)

My favorite Indian food is Palak Paneer. I get it every time I go out to eat. (Okay, I'm exaggerating a little, sometimes I go to a restaurant that is not Indian food.) I promise next time I make that I'll post it, because it's really cool. But one day I was out with someone and they didn't know what to get and I saw 'almonds' in one of the descriptions and told them to get that because it was delicious. I hadn't ever eaten it before, but if it involves almonds it's bound to be tasty. I was right, of course, and once I realized that I could cook Indian food I started prowling the internet for a good recipe. Most of them didn't use almonds; they used walnuts or something and that just felt wrong to me. Finally Mike said, "Why don't you google 'chicken korma almond recipe?'" and there were a lot of them, so I picked one and made it and it was amazing. So I made it again later and took pictures so I could post it here.

Adapted from Indobase

-4 boneless chicken breasts (you could probably use dark meat if you want, but get 4 breasts worth of meat)
-1 large onion (I used yellow)
-4 cardamom pods (you could probably get away with using up to 6, but I wouldn't go higher than that)
-4 whole cloves
-3 cloves of garlic (this is one situation where I didn't vastly increase the amount--just used large cloves. There's plenty of flavor without extra garlic.)
-a piece of fresh ginger about 1 inch long
-a handful of flaked almonds
-1/2 tsp turmeric powder
-1 tsp ground coriander
-1 tbsp ground cumin
-1 tsp garam masala
-1 tsp mild chili powder
-1/4 tsp ground allspice
-1-2 tbsp tomato paste
-1 cup chicken broth
-1 cup coconut milk
-vegetable oil for the pan (if you want to be really authentic, use ghee)

1. Prepare everything--it'll be way easier later if you do all this now. Cube the chicken (you want cubes around 1 inch, but they don't have to be perfect.) Dice the onion (here I try for squares a little under an inch, it doesn't need to be finely diced.) Dice or crush the garlic. Peel and grate the ginger. Mix together the turmeric, coriander, cumin, garam masala, chili powder, and allspice in a small bowl (you add them all at once; I find it's much easier to just pour one bowl of spices in than to frantically measure each one. Also, please note that spice amounts are approximate. Play with them as you like). Lastly, grind the almonds. It's easiest to do this in a small food processor (I have a mini one that is perfect for this sort of thing, a larger one might not work as well.) A mortar and pestle works too but takes FOREVER. You might not want all of them ground--some people prefer some flakes remaining. The coarseness and amount of flakes is up to you. Keep the ground almonds (and flaked almonds) in a bowl for later.
2. Crush the cardamom pods. Throw them, the onion and the cloves into a large frying pan (or wok) with some oil. Cook until the onion softens a little.
3. Add the chicken, garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for a few minutes, then dump your bowl of spices in (see? wasn't that handy?). Stir together and allow to cook for a little while so the flavor of the spices can permeate the chicken.
4. Add the almonds, tomato paste, chicken broth and coconut milk. (The original recipe calls for tomato puree, and a smaller amount, but I found that this came out better. Unfortunately, it's a bit harder to mix in because it's so thick.) Stir everything together and simmer for a while, until it's reduced to a thickness you like. It should be thick and creamy.
5. Serve over rice (again, if you're going for authentic, use basmati, but white will do) with some naan if you have it. Enjoy!

Ground Almonds

This smells so good. All the spice smells fill your kitchen. The dish is worth it just for this.

Reducing--almost done! Yay!

On a plate, mixed with rice, ready to be devoured. So glad there are always leftovers :)

I love this recipe as it is (well, as I've adapted it). My mom thinks it should have more vegetables in it. I think peas would be a good addition--they're pretty common in indian food, and you could toss a small bag of frozen peas in when you add the liquids. The original recipe at Indobase calls for whipping cream instead of coconut milk, but I think this is much more flavorful and possibly healthier (I don't really know the caloric content of coconut milk). But if you want to use cream instead, I'm sure it would be delicious.

Naan is really easy to make but takes forever, so I recommend buying some frozen at the Indian grocery while you're there. It usually only needs to be tossed into the oven for a minute or two to heat up. Other grocery stores sometimes have it, but you have to know where to look and I don't. Except at Trader Joe's, where it's in the bread section. (Hmmm, I have a jar of Trader Joe's Korma sauce. I should see how that is sometime when I don't have time to actually cook.)

This is a recipe you should definitely try out. The ingredients list is sorta long, but you pretty much just toss everything into a pan and cook it. It's low-maintenance. And amazing. I'm gonna go study for my midterm now and wish I had Indian food for dinner.


  1. This looks wicked good Rachael. But I'm afraid if I make it Julia might hit her head.
    I can buy naan at Stop & Shop and Big Y in the bakery section.

  2. Your cousin Cyndi turned me onto this, and now Im hooked!