Lest We Forget [Mughlai Chicken Korma]

Great grandpa went to WWI as a foot soldier and ended up a heavy artillery gunner.

He stayed a long time because he got a Dear John break-up letter from his girlfriend while overseas — 1915-1918.

In the box my family has is an engraved silver cigarette case, some photos and a notebook of deadly gas bomb recipes.

The cigarette case was a gift from the company great grandpa worked for after the war. He got the job through a veteran’s program because he was injured. He lost the use of an arm when a piece of shrapnel blew through his elbow and cut all the way up to his shoulder. All the major nerves got clipped.

Mughlai Chicken Korma

For the chicken:

2 lbs bone-in chicken meat, skinned
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp garlic paste
2 tbsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp mild paprika
juice of 1/2 a lemon
Kosher salt, to taste

Salt the chicken meat. Let sit wrapped in the fridge for 1 hour.

Combine the yogurt, ginger, garlic, paprika and lemon juice in a bowl. Toss to coat the chicken meat. Massage marinade into meat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

For the sauce and cooking:

1/4 cup blanched almonds
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 tbsp. poppy seeds (preferably white)
1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup water
3 yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 green chili, minced
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 tbsp. black peppercorns
4 green cardamom pods
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
2-inch stick cinnamon
1 blade mace, ground
1/3 tsp kewra (screwpine flower) essence
1 tsp rose water
6 tbsp. heavy cream, plus more for garnish
ghee, for frying
salt, to taste
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Caramelize the onions in ghee in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Puree the almonds, cashews, poppy seeds and 1/2 cup of water in a blender until smooth.

Remove the onions from the pot. Heat 2 tbsp of ghee in the pot over medium-low heat. Add cinnamon, black peppercorns and cloves and fry gently for 2 minutes. Add cardamom, bay leaf and mace and fry until the cardamom pods puff up, about 1 minute. Return onions to the pot. Add minced ginger, garlic and green chili. Fry until the raw garlic smell disappears, about 3 minutes.

Add the chicken pieces and their yogurt marinade. Add remaining 1/2 cup of water. Stir well. Reduce heat. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Stir in the nut paste. Cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in the cream. Season with kewra essence, rose water and salt. Adjust if necessary.

Spoon korma into a serving dish. Drizzle with a few teaspoons of cream and sprinkle with toasted almonds. Serve with basmati rice or kesari pulao.

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4 thoughts on “Lest We Forget [Mughlai Chicken Korma]

  1. I’m not sure about the kewra and rose water……..but the rest of the ingredients are already making me drool.

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