Chicken “Korma”

A couple of times a year a local farmer sells these massive chickens that weigh roughly 8 lbs each and we buy a bunch at a time and freeze ’em. You’d think at this size the birds would be older and the meat tough but that’s not the case at all—must be some kind of large breed grown for meat. I usually separate the breast, take it off the bone and cube it up for chicken tikkas and use the dark meat for a curry. Right before Christmas I defrosted and cut up another one of these birds. But this time I turned them into two curries, one for the boys, one for us. Both started out the same way, more or less, with identical marinades, except added extra-hot chilli powder for this one. Both were marinated for quite a while and cooked in the marinade and the chicken’s own juices. They were finished very differently though and the final dishes were very different. I’ll post the milder recipe sometime next month (probably). Here now is this iteration that ended up resembling a korma even though it doesn’t follow a strict recipe for one. Whatever you call it it’s very tasty.

The recipe as you will see is not very precise. I give not exact amounts but ranges for the amount of yogurt and almond/cashew butter, for example. The dish will work well no matter which end of those ranges you go and you can also experiment with the exact mix and proportions of spices. In other words, what this is is one iteration of an approach to making a type of curry and you should feel no compulsion to slavishly follow this recipe after perhaps using it as a guide for your first shot at it.


  • 1 chicken (3-4lbs) skinned and cut into 8 pieces (2 drumsticks, 2 thighs, the breast cut into four pieces on the bone)
  • 2 tspns freshly pounded ginger
  • The following toasted lightly and coarsely ground together after cooled: 1 tspn black peppercorns, 1 tspn cumin, 1 tspn coriander seed, 1 tspn fennel seeds, 1-2 star anise, a small piece of cinnamon
  • 1 tblspn of the hottest chilli powder you have
  • 1 tspn turmeric
  • 3-5 tblspns plain full-fat yogurt, beaten
  • The following whole garam masala: 5 green cardamom pods, 5 cloves, a large piece cinnamon
  • 1 large red onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 1 tspn freshly pounded garlic
  • 2 tblspns golden raisins
  • 2-4 tblspns almond or cashew butter
  • 3 Thai chillies, slit in half
  • Salt
  • Oil


  1. Mix everything from the ginger through the yogurt and marinate the chicken in it for at least 12 hours or longer in the refrigerator. Pull from the refrigerator 1 hour before starting to cook.
  2. Heat 1 tblspn or so of oil in a saucepan over medium heat and add the whole spices
  3. When the whole spices are fragrant (a minute or less) add the chicken with all the marinade.
  4. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover the saucepan and let the chicken cook in the marinade and its own juices till almost done.
  5. While the chicken is cooking, heat 1-2 tblsps of oil in a skillet and add the onion and salt. Saute the onion over medium-low heat till soft and and nicely browned.
  6. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so till the raw aroma is gone.
  7. Add the raisins and almond/cashew butter and mix in well.
  8. Add a ladle or two of the sauce from the chicken to the skillet, mix and blend the content of the skillet to a smooth puree.
  9. Add the puree to the saucepan with the chicken, mix thoroughly, add the sliced green chillies and cook over low heat till the chicken is completely done.


  1. The final consistency should be thick but easily pourable. The chicken should give up enough water as it’s cooking but monitor it from time to time and if it seems to be sticking add 1/2 a cup of water each time to loosen it up.
  2. I like to make this pretty hot between the peppercorns, hot chilli powder and the slit Thai chillies. You don’t need to make it as hot but palpable heat is necessary to balance the richer and sweeter flavours.
  3. This is very good with rice but especially with parathas or chapatis.


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