This week our good friend Phil flew off to Australia for a year-long adventure with his lovely girlfriend Charlotte, leaving a rather large hole in a good many lives. Those particularly afflicted will inevitably be my own dear husband, Phil’s best friend Duncan (and his wife Kim), and his brother-in-law, Revs. So, as misery loves company we all decided to get together to console with each other. Of course, the only dish that would do was a curry, so I decided to make a Korma as the mild creamy spiciness would suit all palates. However, in order to satisfy the boys I chucked in some whole mixed chillies for a bit of edge.
Much time was spent lamenting our shared loss and arguing over who was going feel it most sorely (Sven, who sits next to him daily both on the commute and at work, was agreed to be a marginal winner on a day-to-day level). After we had cooked up many malevolent schemes that might entice or trick the pair home, we eventually managed to forget our woes and sat down to the Indian feast. I’m feeling a bit worse for wear this morning inevitably, but it was well worth it. We may have drunk a lot, but we sure did laugh a lot too. Duncan was the inspiration for a new cocktail (the “Amaretti di Duncan”) but that’s for another post. I can also confirm that after much debate, a phone-call to Phil in Oz and finally a line dropped to AQA, Duncan did not invent the phrase “asbestos hands”. Nice try Dunc!
Adapted from Rick Stein’s “Moghul Chicken Korma” in Far Eastern Odyssey.
- 2 tbsp white poppey seeds
- 2 tbsp rosewater
- 1/2 tsp saffron strands
- 40g peeled ginger, roughly chopped
- A whole bulb of garlic, roughly chopped
- 2.5 cm cinnamon stick
- Seeds from 12 cardamon pods
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 300g natural wholemilk yoghurt
- 800g skinned and boneless free range chicken thighs, cut into bite-size chunks
- 4 medium onions, roughly chopped
- 50g ghee (Indian butter fat for cooking)
- 50g ground almonds
- 1/2 tsp ground white pepper
- 2 green cayenne chillies, halved lengthways
- 2 green birdseye chillies, halved lengthways
- 100 ml double cream
Heat a dry, heavy-based frying pan, add the poppey seeds and shake them around until they go a couple of shades darker (this will take around 30 secsonds). The nutty aroma really sets off the anticipation! Tip into a pestle and morter (or a spice grinder if you have one) and once cool, pound and grind until you have a fine powder. Put them into a bowl and set aside until later. Warm the rosewater slightly and then add a good pinch of saffron and leave to soak and infuse.
Put the ginger and garlic into a mini food processor along with 3 tablespoons and blend to a paste. Heat the heavy based frying pan over a low heat again and add the cinnamon stick, cardamon seeds and coriander seeds and shake around until they darken slightly and start to smell lovely and aromatic. Tip them into your pestle and morter and pound and grind them into a powder. Mix these ground spices with the garlic and ginger paste, yoghurt, nutmeg and 1 teaspoon of salt in a large bowl and stir in the chicken chunks. Do not mix in the poppey seeds; I did that once and realised too late that I’d made a mistake. It’s not a catastrophic mistake but it definitely wasn’t as nice! Leave to marinate for 30 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, put the chopped onions into a food process and blend to a paste. Heat the ghee in a large, heavy-based pan (I used my wok), add the onion and fry gently for 5 minutes or so until they start to brown. Add the marinated chicken (and all that lovely yoghurty marinade) along with the ground almonds, white pepper and 3 tablespoons of water. Bring up to a simmer and leave, part-covered, for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile get to preparing your rice. I served mine with pilau rice, which went really nicely. I won’t post the recipe here, but you can find a good recipe online easily (try BBC food).
After 30 minutes, uncover the chicken and add the chillies, ground poppey seeds and saffron rosewater and simmer, uncovered, for another 5 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Finally add the cream and simmer for a further 2 minutes. Serve with pilau rice and naan bread. Enjoy!