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Chicken Braised in Cashew Nut Sauce (Chicken Korma)

Mridula Baljekar - Chicken Braised in Cashew Nut Sauce (Chicken Korma)
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Korma is a term which means braising. It is one of the most important techniques, and produces captivating flavours. It is a total misconception that kormas are always rich and creamy. There are different types of kormas, some quite rich and luxurious and others that are light and aromatic. Some are pale and creamy and there are those with a fiery-looking appearance with a taste to match. The difference lies in the regional practice of combining and blending the spices. The recipe below comes from North India, which is rich and luxurious - Mridula Baljekar.



Preparation Time:

20-30 Minutes plus marinate overnight

Cooking Time:

30-40 Minutes


Pinch of Saffron threads, pounded
3 tablespoons hot Milk
75g/3oz Raw Cashews, soaked in hot water for 30 minutes
700g/1¼ lb skinned and boned Chicken Breast Fillets
125g/4oz Whole Milk Natural Yogurt
1 tablespoon Gram Flour (Besan), sieved
2 teaspoons Garlic Puree
2 teaspoons Ginger Puree
150ml/5 fl oz Double Cream
50g (2oz) Ghee or unsalted butter
5 Green Cardamom Pods, bruised
5cm/2inch piece of Cinnamon Sticks, broken up into 2-3 pieces
4 Cloves
1 large Onion, finely chopped
1 Green Chilli, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Ground Coriander
½-1 teaspoon Kashmiri Chilli Powder
1 teaspoon Salt or to taste
½ teaspoon Garam Masala


1. Soak the pounded Saffron in the hot Milk and set aside. Next, soak the Cashews in 150ml/5 fl oz hot Water and set aside for 20-30 minutes.

2. Cut the Chicken into 2.5cm (1 inch) cubes and put into a large mixing bowl.

3. Beat the Yogurt and the Gram Flour together until smooth. This is important as otherwise the Yogurt will curdle during cooking. Add the Garlic and Ginger, mix well and pour this mixture over the Chicken. Mix thoroughly to ensure that the Chicken is fully coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight, but bring it to room temperature before cooking.

4. Put the Cashews and the Water in which they were soaked into a blender or food processor along with the Cream. Blend until smooth and set aside.

5. Melt the Ghee over a low heat and add the Cardamom, Cinnamon and Cloves. Let them sizzle until the Cardamom Pods are puffed.

6. Next, add the Onion and Green Chilli and increase the heat to medium. Fry until the Onion is soft, but not brown.

7. Add the Ground Coriander and Chilli Powder. Cook for about a minute and add the marinated Chicken and Salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir until the Chicken turns opaque.

8. Add 150ml.5 fl oz warm water (it is important to use warm Water as cold Water will upset the balance of the spice blending), reduce the heat to low and bring it to a slow simmer. Cover the pan and cook for 15-20 minutes and add the Cashew/Cream mix and the Saffron milk along with all the threads. Continue to cook gently, uncovered, until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the Garam Masala, remove from the heat and serve with Saffron Pilau.

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