Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I Need a Third Arm

মুরগীর কোরমা
Chicken Korma

My korma in 2018
(versus my korma in 2012 below!)

EDIT (17/02/2018): I've updated this post with with ingredient amounts and a method that works for me, and edited the original 2012 text considerably.

Chicken korma is a very common dish in Bangladesh, frequently making appearances at dinner parties or special occasions. Given my mom's recipe has so few ingredients, you might think it's a simple dish to cook. However, I found out the hard way that it isn't, especially if you're a novice trying to take pictures while cooking! The fact that korma relies on so few spices means getting the cooking method right becomes even more important. I got it wrong on my first few attempts, especially since cooking times for the chicken varies if it is on or off the bone, free range, conventionally grown etc. Hence I've updated the original post (and my mom's recipe) with timings and methods that have worked for bone-in free range chicken. 

The cinnamon powder I list in the ingredients is very non-traditional - and just a bad habit left over from my university days where I stocked the powder rather than solid bark. Usually korma would be cooked with pieces of cinnamon stewing with the chicken, which can then be removed before the dish is served. Of course, there are a lot of variations on korma out there, with recipes using coconut milk, nuts and even cream nowadays. Do go out looking for what you prefer, but this is what our family has always had at home. 


  • 500.00 g of bone-in chicken thighs
  • 1.00 large onion, about 130.00 g
  • 1.50 teaspoons of garlic paste
  • 1.50 teaspoons of ginger paste
  • 2.00 teaspoons of cinnamon powder
  • 9 or 10 cardamoms
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6.00 tablespoons of plain or Greek yogurt
  • 1.00 teaspoon of plain flour
  • 2.00 teaspoons of sugar, or to taste
  • 1.00 lemon wedge

  • Mince the onion using a grater or in a food processor
  • Heat some oil in a non-stick saucepan
  • Add the onion paste and fry it for a minute or so on medium heat
  • Add the garlic and ginger pastes, mix and fry till the oil rises to the surface
  • While the pastes fry, crush the cardamoms gently using a mortar and pestle
  • Add the chicken along with half the cardamom and 1.00 teaspoon of cinnamon to the pot
  • Mix together the pastes, dry spices and chicken thoroughly, the fry for about 10 minutes
  • Stir constantly during this time to avoid burning the spices or the chicken - this is where the non-stick pan really comes in handy.
  • Add the remaining cardamom and cinnamon, stir thoroughly to mix again and continue frying for another 10 minutes

Another early korma cooking attempt.
I burned my spices a little as I stopped stirring to take pictures!

  • At the end of the 10 minutes, add salt to taste and more black pepper than seems wise, mixing everything in with the chicken and spices. Leave to cook for a couple of minutes
  • Add 2 cups of boiling water to the pan, 0.5 cup at a time. Raise the heat to medium high while doing this. Vary the amount of water based on how the desired consistency of the gravy

And then I burnt the chicken as well.
Overall not my finest moments in the kitchen!

  • Turn the heat back down to medium, and leave the chicken uncovered and let it cook for a further 20 to 30 minutes
  • While the chicken is cooking, lightly beat the plain yoghurt with the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt
  • After the 20 to 30 minutes have passed, add the beaten yoghurt to the pan, and mix thoroughly. Cook until the smell of raw (for lack of a better word!) yoghurt has left the dish
  • Taste test for sweetness/saltiness and add more sugar/salt if desired
  • Squeeze the juice from the lemon wedge into the korma, mixing it in before removing the dish from heat
  • Garnish with whole green chillies and caramelised onions and serve with rice or polao

Additional Notes
I cooked the chicken with the skin still on the first time round, which wasn't the best idea. Additionally, if cooking boneless chicken breast expect the meat to be done quicker - as a rough guide, halve every time period specified after the chicken has been added to the pot. Finally, if you want to use whole cinnamon in this recipe, substitute the powder with 4 or 5 pieces of cinnamon, about 2.00 pieces long each. 

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