My neighborhood in Brooklyn is home to tons of good restaurants, but one of the things it lacks is a good Indian restaurant. There are many nights when I come home craving a hearty plate of lamb rojan josh or saag paneer, but quickly realize that I'd have to trek back out to Manhattan in order to find good versions of those dishes. So occasionally, it just seemed easier to stock up on spices and make my own versions of Indian favorites at home.
For nights when I have a little more time, I'd make a big batch of chicken tikka masala, which has juicy pieces of chicken marinated in yogurt and broiled until golden brown on top. When I have a little less time, I make this quick and easy version of chicken korma.
The ingredient list may seem a bit long, but don't worry: most of the spices (cumin, coriander, cayenne, paprika, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and bay leaves) you're likely to already have in your pantry. I use boneless, skinless chicken thighs, which stay more tender and juicier without marinating than chicken breasts, and cook them with the spices, yogurt, onions, garlic, and ginger. Ground almonds also get added to the mix, with additional almond slices thrown in at the end.
Just cook up some basmati rice on the side, and you're good to go. And if you want to make extra, go right ahead. The flavors seem to deepen overnight, resulting in even better leftovers the next day. (Weekend breakfast, anyone?)
- 1/2 cup almond slices or slivers
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons minced or grated ginger
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if needed
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (if needed)
- Grind 1/2 of the almonds in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle, reserving the other half until Step 4.
- In a small bowl, combine the ground almonds, cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne pepper, paprika, cinnamon, and cloves.
- Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet (14" is ideal) or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Add the chicken and sauté, stirring occasionally, until it's mostly white, about 2 minutes. Add the almond-spice mix and stir to coat the chicken and onions.
- Add the yogurt, bay leaf, and brown sugar and allow the chicken to simmer for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked and the sauce has thickened. Add the salt and pepper and adjust with more salt if needed. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with the remaining almond slices and chopped cilantro, and serve.