India was invaded by Persian invaders in 1526 who had Central Asian and Turco- Mongal roots. They settled in the Northern part of India and some parts of current Pakistan and Bangladesh. They brought with them a huge Persian influence to Indian food. Over the years this came about to be known as Mughlai or Moghlai Cuisine. Mughlai cuisine is characterised by use of whole and dry spices, aromatics and use of nuts and cream in cooking. This food is quite decadent and rich as this was served to kings and kings-men in royal palaces. Truly Mughlai food is a feast to the senses. It is still extremely popular in Northern and North eastern parts of India.
One finds such curries served in Restaurants across India. Since there is use of lot of spices and slow cooking is usually the method used, people usually refrain from cooking Mughlai food at home. My husband loves his Chicken, which is generally grilled or made into easy Kebabs at home. Saturday evenings we usually indulge ourselves after a week of eating clean and healthy, we look forward to it. I do not eat chicken, however the food lover in me is always wanting to create delicious food while making even our indulgences healthier if I can.
I decided to make a Mughlai style Chicken dish with whole and powdered spices last Saturday and I added saffron to build on the aromatics. However I did not want to add any cream to the dish. So I made the base of the dish creamy using soaked Cashew nuts. So here is my take on a slightly lighter but scrumptious Mughlai dish Zaffrani Kaju Murgh Korma or Saffron and Cashew Chicken Korma. Read on for the entire recipe below.
The list of ingredients may look daunting but once you prep them prior to cooking, the actual cooking process becomes easier.
The Ingredients you need are:
♥ Chicken Thigh Fillets- 350 gms ( You can use Pieces on the bone however that would increase cooking time)
♥ Onion- 1 finely chopped
♥ Water – 300 ml
♥ Kasoori Methi – 1 teaspoon
♥ Coriander leaves – 1 tablespoon finely chopped
The Ingredients for the Spice Base:
♥ Cashew nuts- 150 gms
♥ Saffron – 10 strands
♥ Tomato- 2 in no
♥ Peppercorns – 7 in no
♥ Asafoetida – a big pinch
♥ Dried Red Chillies – 5 in no
♥ Bay Leaves – 2 in no
♥ Black Cardamon- 2 in no
♥ Poppy Seeds- 1/2 teaspoon
♥ Cumin Seeds- 1 teaspoon
♥ Star Anise – Half
♥ Mace- 1 small
♥ Coriander Seeds- 2 teaspoons
♥ Cloves- 2 in no
♥ Oil/ Ghee- 2 tablespoons
♥ Salt to Taste
Method of Preparation:
Take about 50 ml of warm water and soak saffron in it for about 20 minutes. Next soak cashews in warm water, this helps activating the nuts which assists with nutrient absorption. To make the Spice Base, add all the ingredients listed under Ingredients for the Spice base to a food processor or spice grinder except the black cardamons, cloves and bay leaves. Drain the cashews and add to the spice grinder. Similarly add half of the saffron syrup mixture and two tomatoes to the spice grinder. Blend into a thick paste. Add about 100 ml of water if needed. This is the Spice Base ready.
Take a wok, add oil or ghee and once hot add the cloves, bay leaves and black cardamon, stir fry for a few seconds. Next add finely chopped onion. Cook till the onion turns pink. Add the spice base we created and mix well. Cover with a lid for 5 minutes and reduce the flame to low. It will soon leave the oil from the sides. Next add chicken thigh fillets cut into bite sized pieces. If you are using pieces of the bone, ensure you take the skin off before using. Mix well with the gravy base.
Add water, salt, kasoori methi and mix well. Cover this with a lid for 10 to 15 minutes until chicken is cooked through. Ensure the flame is on low, do not let the spice gravy burn or char. Add some water if you think the gravy is getting too thick. This spice base is slightly thick and rich due to the cashews added. Your Zaffrani Kaju Murgh Korma or Saffron and Cashew Chicken Korma is ready.
Serve with a drizzle of some more saffron syrup and coriander leaves and serve with some steamed aromatic long grain Basmati rice or soft pillowy Naan. To make a vegetarian version, simply add Paneer cubes or Tofu Cubes to the spice gravy. The rest of the recipe remains the same. I made Zaffrani Kaju Paneer Korma for myself and it was lip-smacking.
Recipe, Food Styling and Photography- Sharvari Paivaidya Mehan
I hope you and your family enjoy this recipe just as much as my family did. Definitely looking forward to your feedback in the comments on the blog. If you liked the recipe do not forget to Pin the image below to Pinterest. You can also share this post on Facebook or Twitter.
Until next time have a fabulous week ahead.