A couple of weeks ago, Zach and Clay, the dynamic duo behind the awesome blog "The Bitten Word" recruited a bunch of their readers to participate in a cover-to-cover cooking extravaganza. You see, each week the guys cook and blog about a few select recipes culled from the numerous cooking magazines they receive, and wondered what it would be like to cook every recipe in each publication rather than have to choose just a handful. Knowing that they couldn't manage that feat by themselves, they asked a bunch of their fans (and I'm a big one) to help out a bit.
Once they had a roster of interested cooks lined-up, they assigned us each to a magazine (either Saveur, Everyday Food, Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, and Martha Stewart Living), then to a specific recipe. Each of us had to cook, photograph and critique the recipe, then share our results with Zach and Clay for posting on their recipe round-up. You can check out the plan for all this cooking here.
I was assigned to Team Saveur and was asked to cook this chicken curry dish, Murgh Korma. Chicken Korma is an Indian curry passed down from the Moghuls, the Muslim rulers of much of India from the 16th to 19th centuries, and can I tell you….it is absolutely delicious. As you might expect from a recipe in Saveur, this curry is made entirely from scratch. There are no curry powder or paste shortcuts here, rather fresh whole spices and aromatics are used, and make this a curry you will not soon forget.
This was the first curry I'd ever cooked entirely from scratch, as my impressive collection of half-used jars of curry powders and pastes can attest. Is cooking from whole spices worth the extra effort and the sorta-scary ingredient list?
Absolutely! This was by far the best curry I've ever made, and I've made quite a few. In fact, this was as good a curry as I've ever had period, and I've been lucky enough to eat in some very fine Indian restaurants over the years.
I've no doubt that I'll continue to stock and reach for pre-made powders and pastes to throw together quick weeknight curries, but from now on when I want a truly memorable curry and have the time, I'll be cooking from scratch. I urge you to give it a try too, you'll be amazed at what you can create in your very own kitchen.
Cheers – Steve
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (and / or breasts) cut into 2" chunks
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon minced ginger, plus one 2" piece peeled and sliced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic, plus 3 cloves thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- kosher salt to taste
- 1/4 cup blanched almonds
- 1/4 cup raw cashews
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 3/4 cup canola oil
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 12 dried rose petals (optional)
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 stick cinnamon
- 3 large, yellow onions, thinly sliced
- 3 green serrano chiles, stemmed and minced
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup plain greek yogurt
- 6 tablespoons heavy cream
- cooked rice for serving
- Toss the chicken, 1 tablespoon of minced ginger, minced garlic, lemon juice, and salt in a bowl; chill for 1 hour. Puree the almonds, cashews, poppy seeds, and 1/3 cup water in a blender; set nut paste aside.
- Heat a couple tablespoons of the oil in a 6 qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Add peppercorns, fennel seeds, rose petals (if using - and no, I didn't happen to have any handy), cardamom, cloves, bay leaf, and cinnamon; cook until toasted, about 2 minutes. Add sliced ginger, remaining garlic, and onions; lower the heat to medium and cook until deeply caramelized, about 45 minutes. Puree this mixture with 1/3 cup water; set onion paste aside.
- Add the remaining oil to the pot over high heat. Add onion paste, remaining ginger, and chiles; cook until oil separates, about 6 minutes. Add turmeric, paprika, and salt; cook for 1 minute. Add chicken and cook until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered for 15 minutes. Add the nut paste and yogurt; cook until emulsified, about 3 minutes. Stir in 4 tablespoon cream, drizzle with remaining cream to garnish. Serve with rice.