Friday, 17 September 2010

How to cook Chicken Korma

I would have done this earlier in the week for you but TLH and I have wrenched Katyboo's Chaise Longue of Death™ from beneath her and hauled it from Leicester down to Surrey so that we can languish on it together and pathetically moan and drip from our noses while simultaneously (and in stereo) frightening the cats with the volume and intensity of our sneezing - it's an impressive sight.

Last Sunday we went over to my brother's as they had decided to hold a surprise Starting School party for R, their eldest and the future Messiah, attended by as many close relatives and friends who could fit into their house.  TLH and I took the one ukulele we had at the time (we now have two - one each!) and entertained the troops with our less than perfect renditions of such favourites as 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life' and 'Daydream Believer' and, in return, came away with the cold germs that my brother's baby was wearing on a fetching crust around her nose that would, in turn, take a couple of days to 'germinate' and then explode out of our own heads.  We've been in seclusion in the west wing of Jones Towers since Tuesday to keep from spreading it further.  It's pretty bloody virulent - I mean, TLH didn't actually go anywhere near the baby but still managed to catch it.

I've been forced to cancel tomorrow's pitch at the regular craft market in Alresford, Hants, that I attend as it was difficult enough to get up this morning at 8am never mind having to get up tomorrow at 6am.  Oh well, while I could (as always) do with the money, this now means a lie-in (hooray) and I don't need to spend any more time pricing up earrings and putting them on my VenerableBead website in readiness for tomorrow;  I can do the rest of them when I feel better (double hooray!).

This does mean, of course, that I now have the leisure to do a post - with pictures - showing you all how to make a bloody fantastic Chicken Korma.  Once you've tried this, you will (I guarantee it) never again use one of those readymade jars of so-called 'Korma Sauce' from the supermarket.  This tastes exactly how you would get it from a restaurant.  It's also not for diabetics or those on a carb-free diet.  I use a written recipe but tailor it slightly to my own requirements.

This is a very simple recipe but does call for some preparation time because you have to marinate.  You can either do this the night before and leave it overnight, or first thing in the morning.  In her recipe she suggests marinading for at least 30 minutes or preferably longer.

Like the Northern Beef Curry recipe previously posted, this one is from Anjum Anand's book 'Indian Food Made Easy':

The printed recipe ingredients (click on the pictures to make them bigger):

The printed recipe method:

I use everything she suggests except I use dried crushed chillies instead of fresh ones, but that's it.  So then, let's take a look at the ingredients:

Her recipe is for 4 people so just halve everything (more or less - I'll explain where I haven't) for 2 people.

Two chicken breasts - it's probably easiest just to get a chicken breast per person you're feeding.

This is a 500ml pot of full fat plain set yoghurt.  I use all of this.  The book says 200mls for 4 people but I like a lot of sauce and, to me, 200mls just isn't enough.  You can also use a mixture of yoghurt and cream if you like, but I do find the yoghurt makes it rich enough. Especially if you don't agree with fat-free, life-sapping ingredients.

Our old friends, ready pasted garlic and ginger.

Ground Coriander

Black peppercorns

Green Cardamom pods

Black Cardamom pods


Proper, real Cinnamon sticks

Mace Blade

Note: not this -

Or this -
because they'd (a) get stuck in your teeth and/or (b) make your eyes bleed, neither of which will make for a successful dinner party, although it would be memorable.....

Creamed coconut - the stuff that's in a block

Ground almonds

Garam Masala

You will also need - vegetable oil, 1 medium chopped onion, possibly some water, some salt and a boatload of sugar.


The yoghurt, garlic, ginger and coriander make the marinade.  Into a dish, put 2 teaspoons each of garlic and ginger (the recipe says 1 tablespoon of each but, remember, that's for 4 people) plus 2 teaspoons of ground coriander (which I do put in, because I like it):

Garlic, ginger and ground coriander

Then dump in the entire pot of yoghurt:

And give it a good stir:

Next, cut up your chicken into bite-sized pieces, add to the bowl and stir in:

Put a lid on it (or clingfilm over it) and put in the fridge to marinate for as long as you want to.

The rest of it

When you're ready to proceed, get a large pan, preferably one that has a lid:

Add a couple of glugs of vegetable oil, turn up the heat to medium and when hot, add the whole spices:

5 Black Peppercorns
5 Green Cardamom pods
1 Black Cardamom pod
5 Cloves
1/2 Cinnamon stick
1 Mace Blade
Sprinkle of dried chilli flakes/fresh green chillies

Whole spices

Give the pan a stir, then add the chopped onion and salt:

Fry until the onions start to turn golden - this can take up to 10 minutes depending on how high the heat is:

Onions starting to turn golden

Then you add the chicken and marinade to the pan:

Give it a good stir, turn the heat up and bring it to the boil, then put the lid on, turn the heat down to a simmer and cook, covered, over a lowish heat until the chicken is cooked.

Depending on the size of the lumps of chicken this can be anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes.  Give it a stir from time to time.

While the mixture is cooking, prepare the coconut and ground almonds.

Creamed coconut, despite its name, comes in a solid block in a box.

The recipe calls for 70g of creamed coconut for 4 people.  I've found that 35g for 2 people isn't enough and I have used the full 70g before.  The packet in the picture had just 50g left in it (as you can see) so I just used that and it was absolutely fine.

The instructions on the box say you can grate it but I've tried it and  you don't want to do that.  As coconut has a high fat content, it starts to melt in your fingers and then just smears itself over the grater, and is a general pain in the arse to use like that.  Do what I do and cut it with a knife:

It's very easy to just cut into little pieces.  Don't get anal about getting the pieces really small because it just melts in the pan anyway.

Chopped up creamed coconut

I also use the full amount of ground almonds as mentioned in the recipe - 3 tablespoons:

So that's the coconut and ground almonds waiting to go in.

By now the chicken should be cooked through.  Cut a piece in half to check if necessary.  Now, DON'T PANIC - the yoghurt will have split in the pan and it will all look most unappetising:


It's at this stage that I take out all the whole spices except for the black peppercorns, although you can remove them too if you can be arsed.  Personally I don't mind the taste of biting into a cooked black peppercorn, but the choice is yours.  The whole spices are easier to see at this stage, before you add the coconut and almonds and it all thickens up.  In our house, biting into a forgotten green cardamom pod or clove is a divorcable offence, so it's worth taking the few minutes to get them out.

The big pieces - black cardamom pod, cinnamon stick, mace blade - are easy to see but it can get entertaining trying to find all the cloves and green cardamom pods.

It's worth remembering how many you put in at the beginning so you know if you've got them all out.  The sharp-eyed amongst you may spot there are only 4 green cardamom pods on the kitchen paper above, and I put 5 in.  I was fishing around with a spoon for a good 5 minutes and couldn't find it.  This makes for an interesting game of Chicken Korma Russian Roulette later.....

Once you're happy you've removed all the whole spices you can find, then add the creamed coconut and ground almonds:

Give it a good stir - the ground almonds will start to soak up the liquid and thicken the whole thing, and the creamed coconut will start to melt.  Cook it for a few minutes to thicken.

Add the Garam Masala - a teaspoon is fine:

Stir it all in and taste it.  This is when you add the sugar.  How much depends on how sweet you want it.  The book says a 'good pinch of sugar'.  The amount I use is a pancreas-alarming 2 tablespoons because I like it as sweet as you get it in a restaurant.  Despite what you might think, neither the coconut nor the almonds have any natural sweetness, they just add flavour.  Anyway, start with a little and increase it until you're happy with it.  Don't forget a bit of salt as well.

And that's it.  Serve with rice and chopped coriander (if you remembered to get it this week, unlike last week....)

PS.  I got the rogue green cardamom pod....


OmegaMom said...

I think I had a taste-gasm reading this. OMG. Yum. I have no idea where to buy creamed coconut or ground almond hereabouts...:-(

Kate said...

Good one! Thanks again for what looks like a delicious recipe. I don't "agree with fat free life sapping" ingredients either. :)

peevish said...

Well, this post took quite a long time for you to work up, and I thank you heartily for it. I love the reference to "fat-free life-sapping ingredients". I so much agree.

Now I must procure those big black cardamom pods.

peevish said...

Oh, also, what is that kind of mace needed for the recipe? I only have the other two types of mace.

katyboo1 said...

I am very much liking this recipe style blogging complete with foolproof pictures. As such I cede you temporary ownership of the CLD, but would ask for it back with no bogeys please!
Feel better soon.xx