CHICKEN KORMA-ISH

Chicken Korma is a classic Indian recipe, but due to the considerable amount of liberties I took with this classic, I must be upfront about it in the title, to avoid the Food Police coming after me.  For starters, I cooked it sous-vide. I know, what was I thinking?  But I tell you, the perfect texture is worth it. Perhaps you are familiar with the concept of velveting meat before stir-frying? It is widely used in Chinese cooking and does wonders for chicken breast, pork tenderloin, or shrimp, typical types of protein that will often dry up when submitted to the intense heat of the wok. Chicken Korma is not a stir-fry, but the improvement in texture offered by the gentle cooking in the water-bath made me think of velveting. To add insult to injury, I omitted several spices that make Korma a Korma. There you go. Rebel. My middle name. Inspiration came from this recipe at Anova Culinary, a great source for sous-vide cooking.

chicken-korma

SOUS-VIDE CHICKEN KORMA
(inspired by Anova Culinary)

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 shallot, cut into small dice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/3 cup cashews
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Fresh cilantro, for serving

Set the sous-vide to 150°F (65°C).

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the shallot and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, salt, ginger, garam masala, curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until aromatic, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender. Add the cream, yogurt, cashews, lemon juice, and honey. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Combine the pureed sauce with the chicken in a large zipper lock bag. Seal the bag using the water immersion technique and place in the water bath. Set the timer for 2 hours to 3 hours.

When the timer goes off, remove the bag from the water bath. Transfer the entire contents of the bag to a serving bowl and garnish with cilantro.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

served

Comments: We adored this recipe. Period. If you look at the original, you’ll notice I substantially reduced the amount of heavy cream. It was plenty rich this way already, and it had enough sauce in the bag to form a luscious sauce. Of course, if you prefer the extra richness given by more cream, go for it.  I also used fewer spices.  On my second time around, instead of cilantro I sautéed a few cashews until golden brown and sprinkled all over when bringing it to the table. Phil liked the second version even better, I cannot decide.  One thing is certain; this will go in our regular rotation of recipes. If you don’t have sous-vide, simply use a regular pan, saute the chicken pieces (you could velvet them before for better texture), then add the ingredients for the sauce and simmer very gently until cooked through.  Yogurt has a tendency to separate, something that might be a bit more likely cooking on the stove top. Indeed, that is another benefit of sous-vide, with such a gentle heat, the yogurt mellows down gently, without putting up a fight and curdling right in front of your eyes…

secondSecond time around… double cashews, ground in the sauce,
and sautéed for serving…


chicken-korma-from-bewitching-kitchen

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BLACK PEPPER CHICKEN CURRY

This recipe was published in Food and Wine magazine back in February 1999. Yes, you read that right, over 16 years ago, when I was only a teenager (in my heart, that is). But someone recently raved so much about it in a cooking forum that other members decided to make it, and next thing I knew, they were raving about it too. I had to join the party and try the recipe myself. However, I modified it a bit, incorporating some tips from our graduate student Aritri (born and raised in India so she knows a thing or two about curries). I also opted by making it in a pressure cooker. No need to run away screaming. If you don’t have one, I’ll share instructions to make it in a regular pan. I am nothing if not accommodating. You are very welcome.

Black Pepper Chicken Curry1
BLACK PEPPER CHICKEN CURRY
(adapted from Food and Wine magazine)

2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons coarsely crushed black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 shallot, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced Serrano chile
1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup raw cashews, divided
juice from 1/2 lemon
fresh parsley, minced

In a bowl, combine the coriander with the cumin, peppercorns, turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Add the chicken and rub with the spices to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, place 1/4 cup of cashews in a small food processor and process, not too fine. Reserve.

In a large deep nonstick skillet, heat 1/4 cup of the oil. Add the shallots and saute’ for a few minutes until translucent.  Add the chicken, ginger, Serrano chile and the remaining 3/4 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is golden, about 8 minutes. No need to cook through.

Stir in 1/4 cup of the coconut milk, the water, and the processed cashews, then transfer to a pressure cooker and cook under pressure for 15 minutes. Quickly release the steam (or place the closed pan under running cold water in the sink), and when the pressure equalizes open the pan.  If using a normal pan, simply cover the pan and simmer until cooked to your liking (at least 30 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of cashews and cook over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of coconut milk, the lemon juice and the fresh parsley to the chicken and simmer, stirring. Transfer to a bowl, sprinkle with the cashews; serve immediately. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

ingredients

Seems familiar? The same photo was in my previous post…  

Comments: After so many years of blogging, it’s hard not to repeat statements from previous posts. For those who follow my blog for a while it will be old news that I like to cook chicken thighs longer than most recipes specify. Super tender is what I shoot for. Exactly the same goes for pork ribs. Some people prefer to have a firmer texture in both types of meat, so if you are part of that team, reduce the cooking time.  For instance, in a pressure cooker, you could get by with 10 minutes, in a regular pan, 20 minutes (which is what Food and Wine magazine recommends in the original recipe).

Pressure cooking is fantastic for recipes such as curries, stews, soups, and chili (made one recently in 20 minutes that was absolutely spectacular). Until a couple of  months ago I made the mistake of keeping my pressure cooker in the basement, bringing it to the kitchen only when I needed to make a batch of black beans, or maybe cook some artichokes in a hurry (pressure cooker works wonders on artichokes).  Out of sight, out of mind. Not anymore. It is now sitting in our appliance rack and I am always finding ways to use it. It makes life so much easier, many recipes that are not feasible on a weeknight because they would take too long become a breeze to prepare.

Served2

This curry turned out wonderful! It is interesting how the humble black pepper offers a heat different from any other type.  Aritri also suggested that we add ground chili to the curry, but I was afraid it would be too hot for our taste, so I went without it. Keep her suggestion in mind if you make it, I think a little extra heat would not hurt the outcome. I hope you try this recipe, make sure to have some rice to fully enjoy the delicious sauce, or if you prefer to keep the carb content low, a cauli-rice  or a cauli-mash will work just fine…

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