Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Chicken Korma

Recipe: Chicken Korma

Both Jack and I love Asian food. I grew up in a rather small town, there wasn’t even a McDonald’s until I was a sophomore in high school, let alone any kind of ethic food that wasn't Italian! In college, a roommate often purchased some kind of canned Chinese food (it had a separate can of crunchy noodles attached to the can of vegetables in sauce) but after the first time, I would decline eating that particular meal.

After graduating from college, I worked in NYC for a bit and it was there that I was introduced to real Chinese food. When I moved back to western PA (27 years ago!), I bought cookbooks and learned how to make my favorites.

It wasn’t until about 10 years ago that I ate at my first Indian restaurant. It wasn’t a very adventurous meal, but I became smitten. It was a few years before I could convince Jack that this was a cuisine worth exploring (he previously had a couple of uninspiring meals at not very good Indian restaurant and was turned off of that type food from the beginning). I had discovered a wonderful store called Penzey’s, and had placed a large order. I purchased a cookbook by Madhur Jaffrey. We do have a couple of favorite Indian restaurants locally, but the closest is a 40-minute drive away. Consequently, I make most of our Indian meals at home. The internet has been an incredible source of recipes and information. A few years ago, I discovered how delicious curries are, and the rest is history.

Last week I found a treasure in the book section of a discount store. Curry, Fire & Spice: Over 150 great curries from India and Asia by Mridula Baljekar. I am overwhelmed by the amount of information in this book. Descriptions and photos of the culture and cuisine of India, Thailand, Burma, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the Philippines, as well as each region’s cooking ingredients, equipment and terms. There are also sections on rices, breads, chutneys, pickles, and salads. I start to read, then get hungry!

The first recipe I tried the other night was Chicken Korma. Apparently “korma” is a cooking technique—it means “braising”. There are several different types of Korma, depending on the region where the recipe originated, and this one is from Delhi.

I was very impressed with this dish. Jack proclaimed it “company-worthy” and I agreed. The creamy sauce was thickened with an aromatic mixture of ground almonds, garlic, and ginger; the chicken was tender, and additional toasted almonds added a satisfying crunch.

The vegetable bin was getting low, and the only vegetables I had on hand were bell peppers, kale, carrots and celery. So I decided to add carrots and frozen peas to the korma. I do have a wonderful spiced green bean recipe from one of my Madhur Jaffrey books that will go perfectly with this dish the next time. My mouth is watering just thinking about this meal!

The recipe included yogurt and light cream. I substituted fat-free plain yogurt and lowfat half & half and it turned out wonderfully. In fact, since the lowfat (and the fat-free) half & half has a tendency to separate once it comes to a boil, I’m always a bit leery of using it in cooking. This time I kept an eye on the mixture, stirred constantly as it came to a simmer, and it turned out perfectly. I also used a nonstick wok and was able to cut the oil by half.

The following is my adaptation of Mridula Baljekar’s recipe. I did make the entire recipe (4 servings) of sauce but used less chicken since it was just for the two of us. I did this originally to have “extra” sauce for the peas and carrots, but I think that I’ll make it this way every time no matter if I add vegetables to it or not.

Which reminds me, I think that steamed spinach leaves would taste very good in this, too.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Chicken Korma

Recipe adapted from: Mridula Balejkar's "Curry, Fire and Spice: over 150 great curries from India and Asia"

Servings: 2

Preparation Time :0:30

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

--------- ---------- ---------------------------------------

3/4 ounce blanched almonds

2 large garlic cloves

1 piece fresh ginger root -- 1"

2 teaspoons canola oil

10 ounces boneless skinless chicken breast -- cut into 1-inch cubes

3 whole green cardamom pods

1 small onion -- finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup plain nonfat yogurt

3/4 cup fat-free half and half

1 tablespoon sliced almonds -- toasted

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro -- or to taste

Process almonds, garlic, and ginger root with 2 tablespoons of water until it forms a paste. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a nonstick wok and cook the chicken cubes for 6-8 minutes, or until opaque and cooked through. Remove from wok to a plate and set aside.

Place the wok back over the heat and add the cardamom pods. Fry for 2 minutes (add a bit more oil, if necessary). Add the onion and stir for 4 minutes or until softened. Stir the almond, garlic, and ginger paste into the onion mixture; add cumin and season with salt. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove the cardamom pods and discard. Turn the heat under the wok to low. Add the yogurt to the onion mixture, one tablespoon at a time, and stir until the yogurt has all been absorbed. Add the chicken to the wok, cover, and simmer for 4-5 minutes or until the chicken is heated through and tender.

Stir in the half & half and cook over a very low flame, stirring often, until the mixture starts to simmer. Stir constantly and simmer for 2 minutes.

Divide hot rice between 2 plates.

Spoon chicken mixture over rice, garnish with almonds and cilantro.

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Per serving: 424 Calories (kcal); 15g Total Fat (2g saturated)S; (32% calories from fat); 44g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 84mg Cholesterol; 512mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 5 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 16 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates


Laura said...

This looks yummy--and all those veggies look great in the picture (I just made Indian and I always feel like it does not take a good picture). I am inspired by the ways in which you reduced the fat in the dish.

Kitchen Queen Victoria said...

Laura, I was worried about how the photo would turn out, too, especially before I decided to add the vegetables (it was all beige!).

Reducing the fat in recipes is my challenge in life... ;) The allspice crumb muffins which you posted a few weeks ago was difficult but I think that I did well, I won't know until we have them for breakfast tomorrow. I'll let you know how they turned out.