Various types of kormas exist, but this recipe in particular is based on the Delhi-style korma, sometimes called 'shahi korma' or 'Mughlai korma'. Kormas are rich, special dishes that were eaten on special occasions, unlike kaliya which was lighter and considered everyday food. Korma was created in the Mughal court and further evolved in the court of the nawabs of Oudh. Korma—as we know it in the India, Pakistan and Bangladesh—is a result of the fusion of Persian, Central Asian and Indian way of cooking.
According to author Rana Safvi, for this kind of korma, which she grew up with, no turmeric or tomatoes would be used. Kormas are cooked in lots of yoghurt, and the sweetness of the fried onion and the nuts balances the acidity and salt. Kormas are also cooked entirely in ghee, but we have used a combination of neutral oil and ghee instead. Obviously, the ghee-only version will taste better. We have also gone easy with the cream, using it only for garnishing. This is not for health reasons—we genuinely feel that this particular version of korma tastes better if the cream is kept to a minimum.
- 750 g chicken (best made with thigh and leg pieces)
- 12 g salt
- 25 g ghee
- 30 g vegetable oil (plus extra for frying birista)
- 3 pcs bay leaves
- 1 pc black cardamom
- 3 pcs green cardamom
- 1 pc cinnamon
- 3 pcs cloves
- 7 g coriander powder
- 7 g kashmiri red chilli powder
- 8 g sugar
- 15 g ginger
- 15 g garlic
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 tsp kewra water
- 225 g yoghurt
- 15 g cashew powder
- 75 g onions (for the birista)
- 1 tsp cornflour
- ½ tsp nutmeg and mace powder
- fresh cream
- almond flakes
- Coat the chicken with 8 g salt and set aside.
- Grind pepper, toast and grind nutmeg and mace, beat the yoghurt, and powder the cashew nuts. Make a paste of ginger and garlic with 4 g salt.
- Heat vegetable oil, 3-cm deep, in a kadai. Slice onions and coat them with 1 tsp cornflour. Dust off excess. Fry the onions in small batches, on low heat, until they are golden. Drain from the oil and spread to cool. Once cool, chop or crush the birista into tiny bits.
- Now heat 15 g ghee. Fry the marinated chicken pieces in a single layer, turning them after 2 minutes. Once all the pieces are gently fried, remove them from the pan and set aside.
- Heat 30 g vegetable oil (use the same oil you used to fry the onions) along with 10 g ghee. Alternatively, you could cook this entirely in ghee, as is traditional.
- Temper the oil/ghee with green cardamom, black cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and bay leaves. Add the kashmiri red chilli and coriander powder. On low heat, fry for about 30 seconds before adding ginger and garlic paste. Fry for a further minute, taking care that the spices don't burn.
- Now add 2 tbsp of the beaten yoghurt and cook it off completely before adding two more tablespoons. Continue cooking the spices in this manner until oil separates.
- Add the fried chicken pieces. Stir, cover and braise the chicken in the spices for 20 to 30 minutes on low heat. At regular intervals, give it a stir. When the pan dries out, add a couple of tablespoons of yoghurt and continue braising until all the yoghurt is used up.
- Once the chicken is tender, add powdered cashew, crushed birista and the nutmeg-mace powder. Cook for 2 minutes, then turn off the heat and garnish with almond flakes and fresh cream.