Back to basics Bangladeshi: Chicken korma

We do enjoy a good curry. Regular readers of this blog may not fully believe that, after our moaning about all the curries we’ve had to eat recently as a result of this challenge, but under normal circumstances, we do like to both cook and eat them. Our usual preference, though, is something with a kick: we’re definitely more likely to opt for madras than masala, and would always choose a karahi over a korma. We both share the opinion that the ‘mild’ sauces served up in English curry houses, such as korma, pasanda or lababdar, are sometimes so creamy and sweet that they taste like they’d be better off poured over a sponge pudding than meat and vegetables.

So, given that we’ve already made some curries recently that we weren’t overly fussed with, we once again found our hearts sinking when we found that the national dish of Bangladesh is the chicken korma. However, three things convinced us to give it a go:
1. Adventurous spirits
2. Assurances on many websites that a Bangladeshi korma is different from an Indian korma
3. The fact that Ash’s mum and sister, both of whom prefer mild curries, were staying with us

Chicken korma
(Recipe from Khadiza’s Kitchen – we chose this one because it contained neither cream nor rosewater. Measurements are a bit approximate, but we like that!)

Ingredients
1 small chicken, jointed into 6-8 pieces (ours was 1.5kg)
1 large onion, blended to make a paste
1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
2 tsp garlic, finely chopped
Salt
Oil/ghee
1 bayleaf
1 cinnamon stick
1 medium onion, chopped
Water
1 cup milk
Handful of green chillies (optional)
Toasted flaked almonds, to serve

For the garam masala:
1/3 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
2-3 cardamom pods
3 cloves
1/2 tsp white pepper
Nutmeg and/or mace (optional)

Method
1. Grind the garam masala spices in a mill or pestle and mortar.
2. Marinate the chicken pieces in the onion paste, ginger, garlic, salt and garam masala for at least half an hour.
3. When ready to cook, heat the oil/ghee in a wok or large frying pan. Add the bayleaf and cinnamon and fry a little. Then add the onion and fry until soft.
4. Add the chicken pieces and fry a bit more, then add the marinade. Cook the chicken by adding water little by little.
5. Add some more water and cover. Cook on a medium heat until the chicken is done and the gravy almost dried out. Add the milk and cook, uncovered, until thickened to your preference. If using chillies, add these once thickened and cook, covered, on a low heat. (We just sprinkled some over the top of ours.)
6. Serve with rice and green vegetables, sprinkled with the flaked almonds.

Cooking korma

Korma

Korma lunch

Korma lunch

We were pleasantly surprised with this dish, which was indeed different from an Indian korma. As we chose not to add sugar, it wasn’t overly sweet, and instead just had a nice fragrant flavour from the spices and toasted almonds. It also gave Ash a chance to butcher a chicken, a ‘boy job’ he loves doing – and also, quite rightly, sings the praises of. It’s so much cheaper than buying chicken pieces! So yes, unexpectedly, we would make this again, but probably with a little more chilli to give that ‘kick’!

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