Safed Murgh Korma
Portion for 4-5 people
1.5 teaspoons poppy seeds (soaked in water for at least an hour)
150 g sheep’s milk yoghurt
75 ml ghee or clarified butter (yes, it is a full fat version)
70 g peeled an unsalted Almonds
70 g peeled an unsalted Cashews
2 bay leaves
3 chopped fresh green chillies
4 cardamom capsules
1 teaspoon powdered fenugreek
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
1 kg chicken breast
0.5 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 heaped teaspoon tamarind concentrate
4-5 teaspoons arrowroot powder
A traditional Safed Murgh Korma, or Chicken in white gravy, uses 350 g onions, diced and fried then blended with the nuts to form a rich paste that makes the sauce thick and creamy. I had to be creative and use arrowroot powder, but if you want to make the original add the onion and 2 teaspoons of chopped garlic leaving out the arrowroot powder, tamarind and fenugreek.
The trick to this is getting all of your ingredients together before you start to cook. Begin with the poppy seeds that need to be re-hydrated for about an hour before you need them. Then weigh out the ingredients you will need and prepare the chicken by removing the fat and sinew. Skin and grate the ginger and remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and finally chop the chillies. Once all that is done, drain the poppy seeds and use a pestle and mortar to grind them open.
Begin by taking three quarters of the butter/ghee and melting this in a deep saucepan on a low heat. Once melted, add the nuts and bay leaves and fry until the nuts are golden brown in colour stirring continually, about 7-8 minutes. WARNING, do not leave the nuts unattended or look away or they will burn and you will have to start from scratch! Now add the fenugreek, chilli, cardamom and ground poppy seeds and continue to heat/stir for a couple of minutes before adding 250 ml of warm water and simmering everything for around 10 minutes. Once done, allow to cool before adding to a mixer and whizzing into a fine paste.
Now take the remaining butter/ghee and heat over a medium heat until melted, add the ginger and stir fry for a minute. Add the chicken breasts and cook until sealed (white all over), then add the clove, nut paste, yoghurt and bring to a gentle simmer stirring continually. Add the grated nutmeg, tamarind and 375 ml of warm water and stir until mixed, simmering the mixture for around 10 minutes. The mixture will still be a little too thin, so now add powdered arrowroot being careful to sieve it into the saucepan and mix as you go (best to get someone else to help doing the sieving – slowly – while you stir). Once the mix is thickened, cook for 30 minutes before serving. Serve with rice and Saag Paneer (in this case Halloumi) as a side.