Saturday, November 12, 2011

"A Korma is pointless, it's Futile! I Won't Touch it!" - Smithy from "Gavin and Stacey"

It was just a matter of time that the allure of the Indian curry would find me in the Kitchen gathering up all available spices and having a beautiful dance. I've created a kind of masala dabba (Indian spice box) using various containers I purchased or found about my kitchen. Some spices I needed to purchase and others I could find. The most financially prudent way to purchase Indian spices with the best quality is at Whole Foods in the bulk spice section, however for spices you cannot find there I recommend Penzey's Spice Store. There I found unusual spices like smoky black cardamom and the more traditional white poppy seeds used in Indian cuisine. Haven't been able to procure curry leaves or Amchur (mango powder), however in most cases the leaves are noted as being optional and the mango powder can be substituted with lemon juice.

Okay, talking far too much about my spice shopping. Which curry do I choose to make first? Of course me being me I have researched and poured over just about every curry recipe I could get my grubby little hands on. Since my sister and I actually prefer a a mildly spiced Korma just like Stacey from the Brit-com "Gavin and Stacey" I decided to try a couple of different Korma recipes. In the end I found myself preferring the second rendition that I made. But for the sake of having a "Battle of the Curries" I shall post both recipes here.

The first recipe is a tomatoey creamy korma mildy spiced with fennel and paprika, also noticed the lack of cumin and a smaller addition of fresh ginger. The addition of carrots also bring their own flavor to this curry, adding that sweetness so characteristic to their kind. Note however in both cases the use of a sweet onion. I love sweet onions and pretty much never use anything else.

Creamy Tomato chicken Curry with carrots

10 oz. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bit size pieces
1 large carrot, rolling cut chunks (Japanese style)
¼ cup tomato paste
¾ cup boiling water
A good knob of ginger, grated
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
Some peanut oil
A knob of butter, unsalted, plus extra for frying onions
½ a sweet onion, sliced thinly
5 cardamom pods, smooshed a bit
6 whole cloves
¼ tsp cinnamon (purchase a stick for next time)
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sweet paprika
½ tsp ground fennel
¼ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp turmeric
¼ cup coconut milk
¼ cup plain yogurt

Mix the ginger and garlic together with a ¼ cup of water. Fry you onions in oil and a bit of butter till golden. Add a pinch of salt to the onions. Scoot to one side of the pan. Add the knob of butter. Allow to melt and stop bubbling. Add in the ginger/garlic mixture and sauté till golden and fragrant. Add the whole spices and bobble about till smelling nice. Stir back in the onions. Add the ground spices and incorporate with the onions, frying up till fragrant. Pop in the chicken and stir about till gone white and coated with spices. Add in the carrots and allow to cook for a bit. Add a good sprinkling of salt over the whole lot. Mix boiling water with tomato and add into the chicken and deglaze the pan scrapping up any good flavor bits. Pop the lid on and simmer on low till chicken and carrots are tender and done. Take the lid off and turn up the heat. Allow the liquid to cook down till creamy and thick. Turn heat to low and stir in the coconut milk and yogurt. Add another good pinch of salt. Stir and pop the lid on. Leave turn simmer a few more minutes. Serve with basmati, mango chutney, and cilantro if you like.

The second curry is Nuttier, creamier, and robust with the heady scent of cumin. I love this one because I feel all the flavors blend well, the toasted almonds as a garnish truly elevate the dish to a kind of culinary eloquence if you will.

Creamy Almond Chicken Korma

1 sweet onion, chopped
4 whole cloves
4 cardamom pods
Cinnamon stick
12 ounce of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 + inches of ginger, minced
1 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne
3/4 tsp paprika
50 grams of almond butter
8 ounces of chicken stock
1/4 cup of coconut milk
1/4 cup of greek yogurt
Salt to taste
2 oz flaked almonds, toasted

Heat some peanut oil over medium heat in a cast iron frying pan. Add the onions and fry till golden. Season with a little salt. Add the whole spices and fry till fragrant. Add in the ginger and garlic and fry till fragrant and colored. Add the ground spices and mix in with the onions and fry till fragrant. Add in the chicken and coat with the onion and spice mixture. Season with a little salt. Cook the chicken for a few minutes. Add in the chicken stock scrapping up all the good bits. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and put the lid on. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes till chicken is cooked through. Take the lid off and bring to a medium heat. Allow the liquid to cook down till it's about half it's original volume. Turn the heat to low again and stir in the almond butter and coconut milk. Season with a little more salt if you like. Allow to simmer for 5 or 10 more minutes. Have the heat now as low as it will go. Add in the greek yogurt and slowly combining. Make sure it is warm. Turn off the heat and pop the lid on. The Heat of the cast iron pan should continue to cook the curry keeping it nice and hot. Serve over basmati rice with the toasted almond flakes (these make this curry truly special).

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