I found a recipe for korma (spelled “quorma” by the British during the days of the British Raj) in the Anglo-Indian cookbook, Curries and Bugles: A Memoir and Cookbook of the British Raj while indulging my obsession for Anglo-Indian cooking. The recipe here is modified to make it come together faster with less fuss. This means substituting chicken for the lamb in the original recipe, which is more expensive and takes longer to cook, as well as using ginger and garlic pastes instead of fresh. I love fresh ingredients as much as any foodie, but for those who love to cook nice meals in addition to having a full time job, sometimes a simple shortcut can be all that is keeping us from ordering in a greasy pizza instead of making a hot meal from scratch. I have also omitted the ground almonds to make the final dish healthier, which is why using whole-fat yogurt is essential or there is nothing to lend the creaminess that is characteristic of a korma. If you choose, you could even spike in a little cream along with the yogurt. The original recipe had called for 1 cup of ground almonds and 6 oz of cream.
What I like about this recipe is that it can be made in a single pot. In a pinch, everything from the ginger paste to the yogurt can be added all at once to the pot after adding the cinnamon and bay leaf to the hot oil and frying the chicken slightly. I have done it this way too and it makes for an easy dinner for one of those nights when I don’t even manage to get home from work until 8:45.
Yield: 6-8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
This is a delightful, creamy one-pot chicken curry that is not spicy
3 lbs chicken legs and thighs, skinned
juice of half a lemon
2 tsp salt
1 large stick cinnamon
1 bay leaf
3 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
2 green chillies, deseeded and chopped finely
1.5 Tbsp ginger paste
1 Tbsp garlic paste
2 tsp ground turmeric
1.5 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
salt, to taste
1.5 tsp sugar
2 tsp garam masala
1 cup whole-milk yogurt (do not use low-fat for this)
freshly squeezed lime juice, about 2 tsps
Marinate the chicken in the lemon juice and 2 tsp of salt and set aside for 30 minutes.
Set a heavy lidded pot over medium-high heat. Add the ghee and oil. Once hot, add the cinammon stick and bay leaf. Stir briefly until they release their aromas, about 30s.
Turn the heat down to medium and add the onions and a big pinch of salt. Fry the onions without letting them brown until they are translucent, about 7-10 minutes depending on the moisture in the onions. Now add the ginger and garlic pastes and the green chilli. Fry until the raw smell goes. Now add the turmeric, coriander and cumin powders and fry till their aromas are released, 2-3 minutes.Turn the heat down to low.
Remove the chicken from its marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Turn the heat back up to medium and add to the onion and spice mixture and fry, but do not allow the chicken to get browned, about 10 minutes.
Remove the pot from heat and allow it to cool slightly. While the pot is cooling, whisk the yogurt to make it smooth. Add this to the pot, slowly, in batches, so that the yogurt does not curdle. Mix to combine everything. Add the sugar and season with salt.
Bring the curry to a gentle boil and then cover the pot. Allow it to simmer on medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring often so it does not burn. At the end of the simmering, if you want to thicken the sauce, then turn the heat up slightly and evaporate some liquid; just remember to keep stirring so the bottom does not burn.
While the curry is simmering, make your rice, roti or naan to serve with the korma. In the final 10 minutes of the simmering, dry roast the garam masala powder in a hot pan. Once you can smell the aromas of the masala, add it to the curry, mixing to combine.
Once done, sprinkle with the lime juice and give one final stir to mix everything together.
Curries and Bugles: A Memoir and Cookbook of the British Raj