Kurma is a creamy, mild curry from North India. This is the Kerala Muslim version of the northern classic, taught to me by a Mappila woman[ named Haseena Sadick. Her version has rich, layered flavors, and it's thickened with a coconut and cashew paste.]
- Serves 6
- 1/4 cup grated unsweetened coconut
- 1 1/2 tablespoons raw cashew pieces
- 1 tablespoon white poppy seeds (optional)
- 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups thinly sliced shallots or onion
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh green chilies (serrano or Thai)
- 1 cup chopped tomato
- 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
- Ground masala:
- 6 teaspoons coriander
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala (see below)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs and breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Garam Masala:
- 4 whole pieces star anise
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground clove
- 2 teaspoons ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
In a mini food processor or blender combine the coconut, cashews, poppy seeds, and 1/3 cup water. Grind thoroughly to form a smooth paste like pesto. (A mini processor works best for this.) Set aside.
In a wide deep pan heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. Fry 1 cup of the shallots until light brown. Stir in the garlic, ginger, green chili, and fry for 1 minute. Add the tomato, 3 tablespoons cilantro, ground masala, garam masala, salt, and 1/2 cup water; fry until the tomato breaks down and forms a paste.
Add the yogurt and stir until it dissolves. Add the chicken and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
Fry the remaining 1/2 cup shallots in the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until very brown and crisp. Remove them to a plate.
Add the coconut and cashew paste to the chicken and simmer for 10 more minutes. Check the salt.Garam Masala:
Place the star anise in a coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder. Measure out 2 teaspoonfuls, reserving the rest for another use.
Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight jar away from the light. It will keep for 6 months.
Recipe courtesy of Savoring the Spice Coast of India, Maya Kaimal, HarperCollins