tIts elegant Mughal dish, rich with cream, nuts and fragrant spices, is, in Britain, largely relegated to the status of “mild curry”. Suitable for children and those who are “not up to” the chili peppers in tikka masala, for example. But if you usually skip it on menus, try the sophisticated korma again – it’s just too good for kids to keep to themselves.
to equip 15 minutes
soak 3 hours +
cook 1 hour
8 skinless and boneless chicken thighs
250 ml plain full fat yogurt
6 garlic cloves
1 large piece of fresh ginger (or enough for 2 tablespoons grated)
4 tablespoons of double cream
1 teaspoon saffron threads
1 tablespoon of rose water
50 grams of unsalted cashews
60 ml vegetable oil or 4 tablespoons of ghee
4 cinnamon sticks
10 green cardamom podsslightly crushed
25 grams of raisins or dried apricots, chopped (my choice)
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon of salt
1 piece of black cardamom
1 note on the chicken
It’s common to use a whole chicken separated in this dish, but the relatively short cooking time means you don’t get as much flavor from the bones, so I prefer using boneless drumsticks, which stay juicier than the breast. Feel free to substitute it to your liking; Lamb shoulder or leg, mixed vegetables or firm tofu will also work well.
2 Prepare and marinate the meat
Cut the meat into large, bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl with half of the yogurt. Stir, cover and leave to marinate at room temperature for at least three hours, or up to 12 hours in the refrigerator. (If using tofu or vegetables, marinating for half an hour at room temperature should suffice.) Half an hour before the start of cooking, remove it from the refrigerator, along with the remaining yogurt.
3 Prepare the curry base
Peel and finely chop the onion. Peel and crush the garlic, then peel and grate or finely chop the ginger (you’ll want 2 tablespoons of ginger for this), and set them aside for now.
Heat the cream just to hot, turn up the heat, and stir in the saffron and half of the rose water. Place the cashews in a small bowl with five tablespoons of warm water and leave to soak.
4 Start cooking the base
Put the fat into a wide, heavy-bottomed skillet with a lid and place over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the cinnamon and green cardamom and sauté until you hear the cardamom starting to bubble.
Add the chicken in batches, if necessary, browning on all sides, then remove the meat from the skillet and set aside.
5 Fry the onions and stir in the nuts
Reduce heat to medium-low, add onions and sauté, stirring often so as not to grab, until soft and brown. There should be enough fat in the skillet, but if the onions threaten to stick, add more.
Meanwhile, mix the cashews and soaking water into a smooth paste.
6 Add the other flavors
Stir garlic, ginger, raisins, and grated nutmeg into the onion mixture, cook for a few minutes, then add the cashew paste. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for two minutes, then stir in the rest of the yogurt and salt. (Note that low-fat yogurt tends to split when heated, so avoid using it for this purpose.)
7 Simmer for half an hour
Add the chicken to the skillet, along with any juices and as much of the marinade as possible, then bring to a simmer. Cover skillet tightly, reduce heat as much as possible and simmer 30 minutes, until meat is fully cooked (cut into pieces to check).
8 Add the soaked cream and black cardamom
Stir the soaked cream into the pan and cook very gently for another five minutes. Meanwhile, scoop out the seeds from the black cardamom pod—this smoky-flavored spice is well worth seeking out in South Asian food purists or online—pulverize it in a mortar and add it to your korma pan.
9 finishing touches
Taste the broth and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Add the remaining rose water, if you think it’s necessary (the strength of rose water varies greatly, so you may decide you already have enough). Serve the karma with steamed rice and/or paratha or other flatbread. If you’re out to impress, sprinkle a handful of chopped cashews, dried fruit, and/or finely chopped cilantro on top, too.