…And a little “feature” for the blog worth a mention.
The Herb Companion magazine published my recipe of the Vegan Basil Pesto in their MAY 2012 issue (in print). The magazine highlighted the herb Basil in this issue (A Basil Lover’s Guide to Basil) and my recipe was among a couple others that they chose to publish for the month.
Unlike the usual red, orange and yellow hued Indian curries, this recipe today belongs to one of those not so often talked about “korma” or “shahi” category. Laden with spices, nuts, cream and khoya (thickened milk), this category of recipes have overwhelming influence of the Mughals, who once invaded India and also brought along and left in our Indian soils their love for good food and heavy use of nuts and dry fruits in their cooking . I have posted a recipe for Chicken Korma before and there are many similar kinds which are usually very rich.
Well the recipe today is not “rich”, and it relatively easy and quick to make compared to its other siblings. The flavors are prominent and pleasing yet subtle and delicate. I am not exactly sure when I started making this. The recipe probably came from someone whom I barely knew and it was just a mention in a totally unrelated conversation. It is not a recipe created by me but probably gone over a few changes since I first made it.
There might be a lot of variations in the ingredient list for the namesake. Some recipes use a lot of yogurt or coconut milk, or both together. I use none, but cook this with a whole lot of almonds to make the silky curry base.
The flavors of the curry comes from whole spices toasted in the skillet, lightly browned onions, almonds and very importantly the green hot peppers.
If you cannot tolerate the spicy heat, remove the seeds and the membranes of the hot peppers, but please do not compromise on the peppers. The fresh flavors of the peppers, along with the ground almond is vital for this dish. If you want a richer version, feel free to use cream.
Murgh Badami: Curried Chicken in Almond Sauce
Ingredients: (serves 4-6 as a side)
- 2 lbs skinless chicken breasts, (with or without bones and you may use any kind of chicken part, your choice) – cut into 1.5 -2 inch pieces
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoon sour cream or thick/hung/Greek yogurt
- 1.5 teaspoon garam masala
- 5 tablespoon ghee or oil
- a pinch of sugar
- 1 -2 large onion; depending on the size – (about 4 cups loosely packed after sliced), thinly sliced in half moons
- 6-8 small green cardamom
- 2 inch cinnamon
- 8 clove
- 2 tej patta/indian bay leaf
- 2 tablespoon ginger paste (or grated fresh ginger)
- 3/4 tablespoon garlic paste (or minced fresh garlic)
- 1/2 cup almond, soaked overnight and peeled
- 8-10 hot green chili pepper (if you do not like spicy, remove seeds and membrane; use gloves!. The flavor of the fresh pepper is vital here. Do not skip it)
- 1/2 cup milk/almond milk (if you want a rich dish, use half and half or cream)
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- salt to taste
- a fistful of golden raisins or sultanas (soaked in hot water) – (Optional), if you want little sweet bites
- fresh cilantro/coriander to garnish
- slivered and lightly toasted almond for garnish
Note: Paneer may be used in place of meat or make this a vegetarian dish.
Clean, cut and wash chicken. Pat dry with a paper towel. Place chicken in a non reactive bowl. Add the lemon juice, salt and red chili powder and toss well making sure the meat pieces are well coated. Allow it to sit for about half an hour.
Whisk yogurt and garam masala powder. Add it to the chicken in the bowl and toss well. Refrigerate and let it marinate overnight if possible (try a long marination time if you can; it gets the meat tender and reduces cooking time).
Pound the whole spices to break them up. Do not powder them.
Place a large heavy bottomed pan/pot on the stove and add the pounded spices. Allow them to heat up until they get fragrant. You cannot miss the aroma. Add the oil/ghee. The oil/ghee will heat up soon as the pan is already hot. Add the tejpatta/bay leaf. Add the sliced onions and the pinch of sugar; cook at medium to high heat until the onions soften and start to get golden/light brown. It will take about 15 minutes or a little bit more depending on the heat and the water content in the onion.
Now add the ginger and garlic paste. Toss everything and cook for two more minutes.
Remove chicken from the marinade and add them to the pan. Add salt.
Save the marinade. Cook the chicken tossing them frequently so that they are in contact with the pan. The sides of the chicken should start browning /turning golden in about 15 minutes. The chicken should have a light brown hue in all sides and there should be no liquid left in the pan. The onion and the spice mix will start to stick to the pan. Scrape it off to avoid burning the spice mix. The color of the spice mix should not be allowed to turn dark brown.
While the chicken browns, peel the almonds and make a paste with the almonds, milk, the saved marinade and green chili pepper.
Once the chicken is browned, add the almond puree and the nutmeg to the pan, toss well for it to combine well with the content in the pan. Add two to three cups of warm/hot water to the pan (or as much as you would need to make more or less sauce), lower the heat and cover it. Allow it to cook/simmer until the chicken softens and the oil/ghee starts to come up on the top and leave the sides of the pan. Add the raisins if you are using them and toss.
Garnish with fresh herbs and almond flakes if you wish. Serve hot with hot buttered Naan/or any flat bread or over steamed basmati rice/vegetable pulao.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Standing/Marination Time: a few hours to overnight
Cooking Time: 1 hour
Level of Difficulty: Moderate
Serves: 4-6 as a side