Understanding about the Mughal rulers and who conquered who was not something I enjoyed reading as a child. Let’s just say, history was never my favorite subject. However, it’s a whole different story when it comes to relishing the Mughal cuisine and later, cooking the same in my kitchen. I am just happy that the phase of trying to memorize the genealogical table of Mughal dynasty is over and now all I need to remember is what ingredients to add first. My history teacher wouldn’t appreciate this but I am sure he would excuse me once he savored this curry.
Mughal dynasty has contributed a lot to Indian culinary arts and making many bellies pleased at the end of the day. Their cooking style was rich, using spices like nutmeg, mace, clove and saffron. Nuts were used a lot along with yogurt and milk to create a creamy texture for the gravy. Most often, ghee (clarified butter) would be used to prepare the dish and that always heightens the flavor.
It’s not something I prepare on a daily basis, but when the season brings a festive mood, we indulge big time. Murgh Korma, which is also sometime referred as Mughlai Chicken, is one of the most popular dishes from Mughal cuisine.
What makes this dish special is the creamy gravy, which is made with almond, cashew and poppy seeds blended with yogurt. The key thing to remember is to always cook at low heat or else the yogurt might curdle. Mixed vegetables, paneer or egg can be used instead of meat and it would still taste equally exotic. It’s not a typical spicy chicken curry but more of a mellow type with a hint of fennel seeds, cumin and coriander.
The long list of ingredient might intimidate you at first, but once you read the directions, you will know that it doesn’t need a lot of mental preparation but a tad bit of advance planning. And at the end, it will be worth the effort. Trust me on this!
Murgh Korma - Chicken in Nutty Sauce
- 1 lb chicken, skinless and with bone or boneless
- 3 garlic cloves, grated
- 1 inch ginger, grated
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 2 medium size red onions
- 2 green chilies
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro, plus more for garnishing at the end
- 6 to 7 almonds, blanched and skin removed
- 6 to 7 cashews
- 1 tablespoon white poppy seeds
- 3/4 cup plain, flavorless yogurt
- 1 tablespoon cream (optional)
- 1 cup tomato puree, canned or homemade
- 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 2 to 3 green cardamoms
- 2 tablespoons ghee/ cooking oil
- salt to taste
- Marinate the chicken with salt, turmeric, garlic and ginger and let it rest for a minimum of five hours or overnight in the refrigerator.
- Using a food processor, puree the onion, fresh cilantro and green chilies. Add 2 tablespoons of yogurt to that and mix once again. Keep it aside to be used later.
- Next, blend the cashew, almond and poppy seeds to a fine paste and add 1 tablespoon of yogurt to that. Keep it aside to be used later.
- Dry roast the cumin seeds and coriander seeds. Grind it to a fine dust and keep it aside.
- In a wok on a deep pan, add 2 tablespoons of ghee and bring it to heat. Add fennel seeds, green cardamoms and let it release the flavor. This should take about 2 seconds. Add onion puree to the wok/pan, add a pinch of salt and cook at a medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the marinated chicken and continue cooking for about 5 minutes until the chicken in partially cooked through. Then, add the cumin and coriander powder that was kept aside along with chili powder and freshly cracked pepper. Continue cooking for a couple more minutes.
- Pour the yogurt and nut blend to the wok and give it a mix. Continue cooking in medium heat until the oil starts to separate. If it gets too sticky, add a little bit of water. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Gradually stir in the tomato puree and the rest of yogurt to the wok. Add some water, if the gravy gets too thick. Cook for a couple more minutes and add cream, if you are using any. Check for salt and once the chicken is cooked through, switch off the heat.
- Garnish with some freshly chopped cilantro and serve with rice, naan or your choice of bread.
Copyright: Playful Cooking
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