Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chicken Korma

I had to suffer through some bad news last week. Beta Wife came home last Monday and said, “why don't you sit down.” She explained that our favorite (and most convenient) Indian restaurant, Khana Khazana, had closed. We had just picked up dinner on Friday and had seen no signs of impending closure. There was no warning, except the subtle signs I failed to notice...the oversized condiments and the free mango lassi. And then on Monday, brown paper over windows with Sharpie-written block letters: “Coming soon, Ms. Wally's cafe.” After the initial shock, came anger...then betrayal. Then came the desire to stamp my foot and throw a tantrum involving the repeated statement: NO FAIR.

But I'm a survivor. If I can't walk down the street to pick up my Friday night Indian fare, then dammit, I'll just make my own. I did a little research, found a few recipes, and used the ingredients I thought most closely resembled the flavor profile of my late Khana Khazana favorites, Chicken Korma and Saag Paneer. The korma was our favorite of the pair, so I'm putting that recipe up first (recipe for the saag coming soon). It is magically delicious and probably a good bit healthier than ordering at a restaurant. So there, Khana Khazana. Turns out I didn't need you after all.

Chicken Korma

1 pound boneless chicken breasts (or thighs), cut into pieces
1 large onion, chopped
4-5 cardamom pods, crushed/broken
4-5 cloves, whole
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
5-6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 ½ tsp ground coriander
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground red pepper (hot or mild, choose your heat level)
½ tsp turmeric
¼ tsp ground allspice
1 tsp kosher salt
1 heaping cup plain yogurt, low fat
2-3 oz heavy cream
3 Tbsp tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup roasted almonds, ground*
oil for sauteing (I used sunflower oil)

1. Sauté the onion, cardamom pods, and whole cloves until onion is soft.

2. Add the garlic, ginger, and chicken, sauté for 5-6 minutes, or until chicken is lightly browned.

3. Add all remaining spices, coriander through allspice. Stir for about one minute or until mixture is fragrant.

4. Stir in in the yogurt, cream, chicken stock and tomato paste. Mix well, then add the ground almonds.

5. Cover and bring to hard simmer; remove lid, reduce heat, and cook uncovered until the sauce is reduced to cream-like consistency, or about 35-40 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Serve with rice—I prefer Jasmine or Basmati—or a piece of Naan. Garnish with a sprig of cilantro, or top with chopped cilantro. Feel free to add more red pepper to taste.

*To make ground almonds, take regular, whole roasted almonds and throw them in the food processor until coarsely ground.

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