When my family was visiting a couple of weeks ago, I made Indian food once only; the night they arrived. The rest of the week I was fulfilling requests for certain dishes I had received. The first night consisted of totally Hyderabadi dishes: Hyderabadi biryani, shami kebabs (my brother, Ali’s, favourite), baghare baigan (another of Ali’s favourites), raita and salad.
The breakfasts were varied: one day I treated them with a Southern breakfast consisting of biscuits, sausage and cream gravy. They really enjoyed that one. There was also the egg and potato burritos with smoked sausage breakfast. So, basically, there were no Indian breakfasts on the menu and no Indian picnics either.
Now, I tend to go into withdrawal if I don’t have Indian (home or soul food for me) food once a week at least. Therefore, the two weeks of not eating Indian food was just causing havoc with my cravings. I needed something with spice and rice!
I had a couple of bone in chicken breasts knocking about in my freezer so I decided to make my easy, everyday korma with rice. This happens to be a favourite of number two daughter as well. The only issue I have with Indian food, and this is my personal struggle, I must have rice. I love rice, long, fragrant, Basmati rice. It’s my weakness (along with naans, bread in general, desserts, Mars bars, Bountys etc.) Unfortunately, white rice has very little nutritional value and just adds pounds to your weight. I have limited our intake of white rice considerably, much to my children’s chagrin, since they too love white rice. I am lucky, however, that they will consent to eat brown rice, reluctantly as it may be.
I now make my spiced pilaf/pea pullao with brown rice. No, it doesn’t have the heady aroma of the Basmati rice, and each kernel is not beautifully separate from another and falls likes petals from a rose, but it is healthier for us and we can enjoy it more often instead of depriving ourselves. Apart from the slight stickiness of the brown rice, the flavour of the pullao is there: the richness of the caramelised onions, the deep earthiness of the cinnamon and the fragrant, almost grassy, aroma of the cardamom.
Moving on to the korma now. The traditional Hyderabadi korma is a lavish affair. It’s rich with nuts and spices and creamy from the addition of yoghurt and cream. It’s a labour intensive affair but the end result will blow your mind; cooked on slow heat till the meat, chicken or lamb, is falling off the bone tender into a creamy sauce that is bold with spices yet has a very mellow, rich taste. This kind of indulgent eating is best reserved for special occasions and almost every household has a lighter version or an everyday korma. This version is mine. It’s similar to my mother’s but a little heavier on the cardamom. I have made my korma for parties before and it always gets rave reviews so it’s acceptable for special occasions too.
As far as the meat goes, I make my korma with mutton or chicken. Chicken is the favourite with my children so that’s the one made most often. You can use any kind of chicken meat but the boneless breast will not make a very flavourful gravy. I like to use bone in chicken breasts because I don’t like the gamey flavour of chicken thighs. If you don’t mind chicken thighs, then use these, they make a fab korma or use a whole chicken cut in pieces.
My korma serves 6-8.
Serve with Brown Rice Pea Pullao or plain rice or naan.
Thank you for reading!