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Chicken Korma - An Indian Recipe
Try Chicken Korma Without the Chillies
Near the end of the First World War, my Father-in-law sustained injuries in his lower leg from what were called shrapnel wounds, but were actually wounds caused by fragmentation. The fragments were left in and after a time the exterior wounds healed and he was sent home to Scotland to recuperate. Soon after the war ended he decided to go to India where his cousin was a Presbyterian Minister; he found work in Assam as a tea-planter and stayed there for some time.
Father-in-law had many interesting stories to tell about his adventures and I'm sure some of them were exaggerated, but the thing I enjoyed hearing about most was the food. He remembered many of the recipes and passed them on. He loved hot curries, right until he died, but unfortunately my tummy does not. However, there are several recipes that I make now without the chillies and curry and I love them; for me they are real comfort food. I have already written about one of them: Tomato Boortha. You can find that recipe in the link given below. Chicken Korma is another that I love. It is sometimes spelled 'Koormah.' The Korma mix really should have the chillies, so I will add those as optional.
To begin with, sour curds or yoghurt is needed. He always called it 'dhye.'
How to Make Dhye
1 litre of milk
Half a lemon
- Warm about half a litre of milk until it is lukewarm or slightly warmer.
- Slice half a lemon, removing pips.
- Add lemon slices to milk.
- Cover and leave in a warm place for about 24 hours; by then it should be set like a junket.
- Remove lemon slices.
- Mix in another half litre of warmed milk.
- Cover and leave for another twenty-four hours.
- If you want to keep making curds, remove about half to use and repeat the process.
How to Make Dhye, or Sour Curds
Yoghurt, Sour Curds or Dhye has been made traditionally and used for centuries right from Eastern Europe to China. It was considered good for the health and as an aid to digestion and was eaten by people of all classes and castes and even by nomadic tribes. It was, and still is, eaten by itself, used in the preparation of many different dishes, and eaten with rice, salt, sugar or fruit. Of course, now it is used in most countries in the world.
Dhye, as I shall refer to it for this purpose, is the basis of many Indian dishes and while yoghurt can easily be substituted for it, I prefer to make it myself. I use either fresh milk or reconstituted powdered milk and either full cream or skim; it seems to work for any kind of milk.
Recipe for the Chicken Korma
Note: Chicken pieces can be used instead of breast, but allow more weight if there are a lot of bones.
- Cut 1kg or about 2 lbs chicken breasts into smallish pieces.
- In a mortar and pestle, grind to a paste 1 heaped teaspoon ground Turmeric and 1 clove garlic.
- Put the paste in a large bowl and mix with 3 tablespoons dhye.
- Add the chicken and marinade for about an hour.
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- 2-3 ozs ghee, or butter or oil
- 1 large onion, chopped finely
- 1 clove garlic, chopped finely
- 1 piece fresh ginger, finely sliced
- 6 whole cloves
- 1 stick cinnamon, at least 2 inches long
- 6 whole cardamoms
- 1 teaspoon chilli flakes, (may be omitted)
- Put all the ingredients into a pot and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion is almost clear.
- Add the chicken and marinade. Mix lightly, but well. Cover pot with a heavy lid and simmer for about 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Do not add any extra liquid.
- Add salt and lemon juice to taste.
- Serve with Coconut rice (see Tomato Boortha recipe). Vegetables, washed, drained, cut into small sizes and fried with curry and spices in a little ghee or oil may also be served.
Eating Indian Food
To eat Indian food traditionally, fingers are used; most children love the excuse to do this. There are rules and to do it properly needs a little practice. Only the fingers of the right hand are used and the food must not touch the palm of the hand. Spoons and forks can also be used.
It is helpful to provide a finger-bowl of clean water to which a slice of lemon or a little lemon juice has been added, and, of course provide a napkin for drying the fingers.
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