Think you know korma? Think again. This delicate, nuanced dish from Darjeeling Express’s Asma Khan is as authentic as the curryhouse classic is contrived. Like what you cook? You’ll find this dish and many more in her new cookbook, Asma’s Indian Kitchen.
ZAFRAN MURGH KORMA – SAFFRON CHICKEN KORMA
There are many ways to cook a korma. If you ever get the chance to try a Safed Korma from Hyderabad, grab it. The pale, almost bland, appearance is deceptive. The name Safed Korma, which means white, hides a fragrant and delicately spiced dish. For a dish to be called a korma it usually has to be meat, although it can sometimes be vegetable-based, and braised in a yogurt base. Used sparingly in Indian kitchens due to it being an expensive spice, the addition of saffron gives this dish a lovely colour and also makes it very special.
Serves 4 as a main course or 8 a part of a multi-course meal
- 500g Turkish or Greek yogurt (10% fat)
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger paste
- 8 medium skinless, bone-in chicken thighs (approximately 1 kg)
- 2 tbsp full-fat milk
- large pinch good-quality saffron strands
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil
- 3 medium white onions, sliced evenly and thinly into rings
- whole garam masala (comprised of 2 Indian bay leaves, 1 x 2½ cm piece cassia bark, 3 green cardamom pods and 1 clove)
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- ¼ tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp ground almonds
- 1 tbsp sugar
- small handful almond flakes, to garnish
- In a small bowl, combine the yogurt with the garlic and ginger pastes.
- Place the chicken thighs in a non-reactive container with a lid and spoon over the marinade, making sure that every surface of the chicken is covered. Cover the container and place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Gently warm the milk in a pan. Do not boil; it should only be tepid as you do not want to scald the saffron. Touch the surface of the milk to check the temperature, then when the milk is tepid add the saffron strands and leave to infuse.
- In a deep pan or wok that has a lid, heat the vegetable oil over a medium–high heat. Add the onions to the pan and fry gently, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown and caramelized. Using a slotted spoon, remove the onions from the pan, leaving as much of the oil in the pan as possible to cook the other ingredients, and place on a plate to drain.
- Spread the onion rings across the plate so they crisp as they cool.
- Add the whole garam masala to the same pan and oil used to fry the onions. After a few seconds, add the ground coriander and continue to cook, stirring. After 1 minute, add the marinated chicken to the pan along with the marinade from the container. Keeping the heat on medium–high, continue stirring gently.
- After 5 minutes, or when the oil separates from the yogurt and comes to the surface, add the chilli powder and salt. Lower the heat, cover the pan with the lid and simmer gently for 35 minutes. The chicken is ready when the edges have softened and are slightly curled.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Add the saffron-infused milk, ground almonds and sugar. Stir the softened chicken gently to avoid breaking it up.
- Before serving, taste to check the seasoning and adjust as necessary. Garnish with the flaked almonds and the fried onions.
Make it happen
Where to find it: Recipe from ‘Asma’s Indian Kitchen‘
Find out more: ‘Asma’s Indian Kitchen’ by Asma Khan is published by Pavilion Books, RRP £20
Read this: For Asma’s Kaju Aloo potato recipe, click here. To read more about Asma Khan, her restaurant Darjeeling Express and Asma’s Indian Kitchen, click here
Photo credit: Kim Lightbody