Korma is the ultimate preparatory technique in the Mughlai cuisine. The origin of korma dates from the 16th century around the time of the Mughal Raj in Northern India (which included Pakistan and Bangladesh). Though the dish came with the Mughals from Persia, the word Korma is in fact derived from the Hindi and Urdu word for braise. The technique that is called braising in the West, is a way to tenderise tough meats. It involves first searing or browning of the meat on high heat, which is often referred to as locking of the juices by some modern chefs, then cooking slowly in juices with added acid in the form of tomatoes, wine or yogurt in a closed pot. The meat cooked in this way undergoes a chemical reaction called Maillard reaction, this locks in the flavours of the spices to the meat at the same time keeping it soft and tender.
When one speaks to local British Indian food enthusiasts, one gets the impression that Korma is some kind of a mild curry. This may well be true, as the yogurt does make the curry less spicy but Kormas don’t have to be.
In the Indian Korma dishes the general principle of searing the meat brown before cooking in the fluid in a closed pot is similar to what happens in the western braised food, but the fluids which we call gravy is livened up in Korma with the spices. Usually one uses yogurt for making the Korma but in my Shahi Korma I have used Cream to give it that rich flavour and colour, which Maharaja’s deserve!
- 1/2 kg Chicken cut in to small portion
- 1 inch Cinnamon stick
- 6 Cloves
- 4 Green Cardamoms
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1small chopped Onion
- 1/3 tin chopped Tomatoes
- 1 tsf Garlic paste
- 1 tsf Ginger paste
- 2 tsf Coriander powder
- 1 tsf Cumin powder
- 1 tsf Garam Masala
- 11/4 tsf Salt (to taste)
- 1/4 tsf Chillies powder
- 100 mls Cream
- 3 tbsf Oil
- Fresh Coriander chopped (optional)
- In a heavy pan heat the oil on medium heat.
- When the oil is hot add cinnamon, cloves, cardamoms and bay leaf and stir till the cardamom swells up usually 2-3 minutes.
- Add chopped onions and brown.
- Add chopped tomatoes and mix well and brown or till the oil separates (see notes below).
- Add the rest of the spices and mix well
- Add the chicken pieces and mix well so that all the masala clings to the portions. Need to brown the chicken portions a bit.
- Add the cream and mix well.
- Add 150 mls water and bring to a boil then lower the heat. Now cover the pan and cook for 40 minutes or till the chicken has cooked. I tend to use a pressure cooker on which it cooks within 20 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves (optional).