Monday, March 19, 2012

Madhur Jaffrey's Chicken Korma

Last year on a cold chilly December night, a book took me down the memory lane. It was a trip that stirred nostalgia as she deftly narrated pages from her childhood and growing up years. I am talking about Madhur Jaffrey's childhood memoir - Climbing the Mango Trees. I read it, enjoyed it and realized why she is the undisputed doyen of Indian cooking. I recall seeing her shows coming on TV where she was clad in finest silks, would rave and reminisce about the food dearest to her heart mostly in outdoor locations cocooned in lush green foliage, all orchestrated with perfection.

Her Chicken Korma recipe particularly fascinated me because it boasted of Punjabi Garam Masala something I have been wanting to make at home from a long time. The recipe was a regal approach in terms of cooking chicken. I was smitten by the rich Korma gravy and before I realized my kitchen corners and crevices welcomed the rich and striking aromas of Cardamom and Pepper. I could imagine kings and queens in ancient India feasting over this simple, subtle flavored rich tasting chicken curry. The way she writes and describes her recipes have a lesson or two for me as a writer. The specificity of directions, precision of measurements and succinct steps bowled me over.

The Korma recipe has juicy moist chicken chunks swimming in light and intense gravy. I marinated the meat to add extra punch. The gravy is made with Yogurt and fried onions and finally garnished with golden raisins that plump up like jewels. I used store available Brown Fried Onions, the ones which can be directly added to garnish on top of Biryanis and enrich gravy of any sorts. The chicken remained juicy and moist since it was literally drunk and high on the rich silky gravy. I added little butter to finish the gravy and make it silky smooth. This recipe is a keeper and we plan to make it often. Needless to say, I xeroxed all the recipes in the book and have added them to my recipe collection. I have a wide happy grin on my face. :)

Madhur Jaffrey's Chicken Korma minimally adapted from her memoir
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

Chicken - 3 lb. of Dark Meat

Yogurt - 1 and 1/2 cup
Punjabi Garam Masala - 1 and 1/2 tsp suggested, I added 1 tbsp
Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Cayenne powder - 1 and 1/2 tsp

Ginger paste - 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
Garlic paste - 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
Meat tenderizer powder - 1 tbsp
Almonds (blanched) - 3 tbsp
Onions (sliced) - 1 and 1/2 cup
Golden Raisins - 1/2 cup
Indian Bay Leaf - 2
Cardamom - 8 suggested, I added 5 crushed
Cinnamon - 2 of 1" piece
Butter - 1 tbsp

Punjabi Garam Masala -
Cardamom seeds - 1 tbsp
Pepper corns (whole black) - 1 tsp
Cloves - 1 tsp suggested, I reduced it to 1/3 of tsp
Nutmeg - 1/3 of a Nutmeg
Cinnamon - 1 of 1" stick
Cumin seeds - 1/3 tsp
Got about 2 and 1/2 - 3 tbsp of powder.
*** Grind to smooth powder in a coffee grinder, store in
an air tight container ***

For Garnish -
Coriander leaves - 3-4 strands
Fried Onions - 1/2 cup

1. Chicken Marinade - Clean and trim the chicken. Wash and pat dry. Marinate the chicken in 1 tsp each of ginger paste, garlic paste, salt and meat tenderizer powder.
2. Herb and Almond paste - In a blender make a paste of Ginger and Garlic with little water, make a paste and add blanched almonds to it, add little water. Keep the paste aside.
3. Yogurt mix - Mix the yogurt with coriander powder, cayenne powder and salt.
4. Chicken Fry - In a deep bottomed pan, heat few spoons of oil and add add cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaves. Add the Chicken now and fry well on both sides till they turn a shade darker and are part cooked. Remove from the pan and transfer to a paper towel.
5. Building the gravy - In the same pan, add some more oil, add the onions now and fry them till they turn brown. Add the herb paste now and saute for couple of minutes. Add the yogurt mixture now and cook well on a low to medium flame for about 5 minutes. Add the golden raisins and chicken now, stir well to mix all the ingredients. Taste for salt and seasoning and adjust accordingly. Cook (cover with lid on) on low to medium flame for about 45 minutes and till the chicken is juicy and well cooked. Check if done, turn off flame. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Sprinkle fried onions on top of Korma while serving. I served them with Rotis.

Note - Cook the curry on low to medium flame, if you bump up the heat the yogurt will curdle away. You could add onions early on, fry and keep aside. I added them and did not bother to remove. Madhur recommends removing them and draining on paper towel and adding later to the gravy. Adding butter to the gravy for finish results in a gravy which has silky and smooth texture, omit this step if required.


  1. @ Mona -

    Thanks. I liked the subtle flavor of this Korma. I think that's the beauty of yogurt based curries.


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