As tempting as it may be, we can’t live just on delicious Christmas sweets and treats alone, though at this time of year, I also want my savoury meals to be beautifully spiced, pungent with enticing aromas, and what better recipe than this Creamy Fragrant Chicken Korma?I adore curries of all varieties. Years of traipsing up and down the curry-lovers-paradise that is London’s Brick Lane opened my eyes to all the wonderful varieties out there, but when I want a real comfort fix, a big soft feather duvet of a curry, I always turn back to that classic, chicken korma.
While many people think of a korma with its delicate spice and gentle heat as a ‘beginner curry’ it actually has a proud history as a court dish of the Mughal Empire. Layers of fragrant spices create a thick and flavoursome sauce for juicy chicken which has been tenderised by yoghurt, served with aromatic basmati rice and the bright, clean flavour of coriander – is your mouth watering yet? Mine is!
I think what puts a lot of people off making curries at home is the long list of ingredients, the idea of grinding whole spices, and the thought of slaving for hours over a hot stove when actually this needn’t be the truth. I’ve simplified this recipe so it can be made easily for a week night dinner, coming together in around half an hour. If you are feeling particularly organised, whip up the marinade the night before, let the chicken have a good long soak in it overnight, then it’s simply a matter of getting some rice on and throwing the rest in a pan to simmer away quietly while you relax with a well-earned glass of wine.
Creamy Fragrant Chicken Korma
for the sauce:
- 300 ml tomato passata (see note 1)
- 200 ml yoghurt
- 75 g whole almonds
- 2-3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
- 3 cm piece of ginger peeled and chopped
- 1 Tbsp garam masala
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp spicy paprika or cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1.5 tsp sea salt
for the curry:
- 600 g boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 1 Tbsp neutral oil sunflower etc.
- 25 g unsalted butter
- 1 large brown onion roughly chopped
- 2 Tbsp sultanas
- 100 ml cream
- steamed basmati rice 400g uncooked rice + 900ml cold water
- 1 tsp butter
- ¼ tsp salt
- small bunch coriander / cilantro
- Combine all sauce ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, then process on high until you have a smooth sauce - the almonds will make it a little gritty looking but this gives it a lovely texture later (see note 2).
- Cut the chicken thighs into bite sized piece, about 2cm square, then place in a bowl with the blended sauce. Stir well to combine. At this point for maximum flavour you can marinate the chicken for a couple of hours, otherwise simply continue with the recipe.
- Place a large, deep sided pan over a medium heat, add the oil and butter and cook until the butter has melted and begun to bubble. Add the onion to the pan and cook, gently for 5 minutes until softened but not browned.
- After 5 minutes, pour the chicken and all of the sauce into the pan, stir through the sultanas and allow to simmer with a tightly fitting lid for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the curry from catching. Keep an eye on it as it cooks and add a splash of water if necessary.
- Meanwhile, make your rice by combining rice, water, butter and salt in a saucepan. Bring to the boil then cover with a close fitting lid and turn the heat down as low as possible (if you are using a glass topped or ceramic stove you will need to move it to a fresh element on low as otherwise it will bubble over). Allow to cook for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat.
- When the korma has cooked for 15 minutes, remove the lid and stir in the cream. Cook for another 5 minutes, uncovered, then remove from the heat. Check the seasoning and add salt or a squeeze of lemon juice to taste.
- Use a fork to fluff up the rice, then serve with the korma, sprinkled generously with fresh coriander / cilantro.
TIPS & TRICKS:
I am of the opinion that 100ml of cream in a dish for 4 people (working out to less that 2 tablespoons each) is not much of an extravagance, but if you are counting calories simply leave it out, or add a little more yoghurt for a creamier consistency.
Coriander / Cilantro is a very divisive herb, I love it and use it whenever possible, but if you really can’t stand it consider serving the korma with a squeeze of lemon or lime or a tart chutney as a substituted for the bright mineral flavour of coriander.
I like to use almonds in this dish because I like the texture they give, but you can absolutely replace them with cashews, the result will be lighter and a little creamier.
If you are using chicken breasts rather than thighs you will need to add more liquid to the pan, about 125ml / ½ a cup of water or stock as they are not as juicy as thighs.
No time to marinade? No problem, even 5 minutes resting in the sauce is fine! The longer it sits, the more flavoursome it will be.
Looking for more comfort food? What about my rich and satisfying: