I love food, or should I say I love food that has character, flavour and maybe a story behind it, as it makes things much more interesting. The area of Southern Asia covers a huge expanse, and includes the likes of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, and its resulting rich and diverse culture and cuisine. There is a mountain of history that defines these distinct areas and that has developed over the years and influenced some of the food that we have become familiar with, including Biryani and ‘Korma’.
Onions seem to form the basis of many dishes that come from the region of Southern Asia and the Korma is no different. Now, I really hate Korma or should I say Chicken Korma, I suspect because of the dishes I have tasted are either from a take-away (once), or one someone close to me has made (I suspect from a Jar, Shhh) again once, I did not like either of them!
I discovered on page 146 in Diana Henrys’ ‘A Bird in the Hand’ book an interesting ‘Royal Korma’ recipe, the book has recently taken a spot nestled amongst Yotam Ottolenghi, Sabrina Ghayour, Maria Elia, Sam Clarke and various other chefs who inspire me to cook.
I am not going to provide ingredient details so buy the book as i did, i am just going to describe some of the processes and my results, so you can get an idea of how the Korma might be cooked. The book is a very worthy investment and contains loads of inspirational food to cook based on Chicken.
Back to the Onions as there are two different ways they need to be dealt with, sliced and given a liberal salting, and chopping finely. Above you can see above a considerable amount of onions sitting in the colander, once salted and left for at least 30 minutes, the amount of water that gets extracted is quite significant in the picture below. The Onions need to be fried (use a deep fat frier on about 160 degree’s) until golden brown, then drained very well and blitzed with some water to create an Onion Puree. The salting process helps remove much of the water but be careful as there will be a lot of spitting when you put the Onions into the Oil.
Once completed the aroma is slightly sweet, pungent and just yum, you can see my effort above. I suspect many of the Korma’s in restaurants and in jars have sugar added to provide the sweetness, this recipe has no added sugar (I have just checked two well known sauce brands on the internet and yes, they both have quite a lot of added sugar)!
The other core elements that make this dish ‘sing’ include Black and Green Cardamom, Ground White Pepper, Kashmiri Chilli, Cloves, Cinnamon and Ground Coriander Seeds. To add to the this, a puree of both Almonds and Cashew Nuts are needed along with Saffron, (I used Afghanistan Saffron which comes from a village co-operative encouraged to stop growing drugs, that’s got to be good). The majority of my spices come from Steenbergs in Yorkshire, sorry for keep mentioning them but their products are just brilliant and well worth investing in.
I had a ‘debate’ with my partner of 27 of so years on the Chicken cut, and I stood my ground (typical obstinate bloke I her you say). I had a pack of Chicken Thighs which would be perfect, but I was battling against Breast Meat which my partner wanted to go with.
I needed to skin, de-bone and clean up the Thighs which I did, and the final results in both our opinions was well worth it. If you remember at the beginning there were two types of Onion, the 1st stage of cooking needs the finely chopped Onion to be sweated and browned before adding the other ingredients as per the order in the book.
I will admit to cheating a bit with the Rice, and used a couple of packets of the ‘quick cook’ variety but with some added ingredients. Golden Raisins which had been steeped in Earl Grey Tea for a least an hour, some cloves, a little broken Cinnamon stick, a few crushed Green Cardamon pods and a light sprinkling of the Saffron Water, finally some chopped Coriander and a few flaked Almonds, the whole lot goes in the Microwave for 2-3 mins (yes a Microwave)!
Before you serve TASTE TASTE TASTE, the dish needs a decent ‘whack’ of Salt at the end, it lifts the dish so much. When I 1st tasted it, it was between ‘bland’ and ‘Ok”, tasting, adding a little salt and tasting, more Salt and it just went ‘WOWSER!!
So, the Korma hating critic was gobsmacked, this was bl@@dy amazing with deep flavours, a slight nuttiness but not too much, sweet but not sweet (the Onion puree I guess), this was just sublime. The Kashmiri and Ginger (I didn’t mention the Ginger so you do need the book to recreate this 🙂 providing some heat long with the White Pepper.
Thank-you Diana Henry for the chance to cook what is probably much more authentic than what you would get in Restaurants, as the dish takes some time and patience to prepare. You could do some of the processes the day before, such as the Onion Puree, I am not sure about the Nut Mixture.
If you want to try and cook a Korma, and you don’t (didn’t) like Korma like me, buy the book and give this one a go, you will be pleasantly surprised. This is being added to my Love it list of dishes for repeating again in the future.
……………..Until Next Time…………………L8ers…………..