There are so many versions of this dish from the hyper complex to the very simple but they all end up with an easy to eat, creamy curry that is a great ‘gateway’ curry if you have palette shy people you’re cooking for. The Mughals were the Muslim rulers of India and were famous for their decidant taste in architecture – The most famous example of Mughal architecture is the beautiful Taj Mahal, but they had a huge influence on the cuisine, too. You’ll find a lot of Mughal cuisine and architecture in the North of India and Hyderabad.
500 grams of chicken breast, cut into 2cm cubes
1 cup of chicken stock (I’m using homemade, but good quality store bought is fine)
1 cup of water
1/2 cup of plain yoghurt
1/4 cup of heavy cream (more if you want a milder, creamier dish – less if you want a stronger flavour)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cm of ginger, grated
2 teaspoons of crushed garlic (about 4 cloves worth)
2 bay leaves (I only had fresh, but dried is better, to be honest)
2 cinnamon sticks (about 3cms in length each)
4 green cardamoms
1 tsp of ground coriander
2 tsp of ground cumin
1/2 tsp garam masala
4 tsp almond meal/crushed almonds
Pinch of chilli flakes (to taste)
Almond flakes (for garnish)
Vegetable oil for frying
Start by frying off your chicken in two tablespoons of hot oil – fry your chicken in batches to ensure you don’t end up stewing it. You want to brown all the sides, but not dry it out (it’s ok to be raw in the middle – we’ll be cooking it through later)
While your chicken is frying open up your cardamom pods. You don’t want the shells, just the black seeds inside. We love the flavour, so have gone for 4 pods, but 2 is plenty if you don’t want too strong a taste.
Make sure your onion is chopped and your cardamom seeds and cinnamon ready to go
Put your chicken aside and fry off your onions, cardamom seeds, cinnamon garlic and ginger over a medium heat – add in a little more oil, if you need. Don’t fry on too high a heat or you’ll burn the spices and onion and the whole dish will go bitter. Let the onions go translucent.
When your onions are translucent add in your ground cumin, almond meal, ground coriander and any chilli flakes you want to. Give a good stir and fry for 2 more minutes to ensure the flavours are all well combined..
Time to add in your stock and your water. Bring the mixture to the boil and turn the temperature down to a nice simmer.
Once simmering, add in half of your yoghurt.
Give the gravy a stir…
And then add in the rest of the yoghurt. If you add it all in at once there’s a chance it’ll shock the yoghurt and split it – never appealing! Remember, Mughals were slow and steady with their food – no need to rush things 🙂
Add your bayleaves at this point and allow the gravy to simmer over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 10 minutes the gravy will have reduces a little. I like to make a smooth paste, so I take out the bayleaves and cinnamon (they don’t tend to blend very well – neither do the cardamom shells, which is why we removed them at the start)
Pour your gravy into a blender and give it a blitz on high until smooth. If you don’t want to use a blender, that’s fine – just chop your onions finely at the start and you can avoid this step.
Pour your mixture back into the pan…
And add back your chicken and any juices (that’s the flavour!)
Cook over a medium heat until the chicken is cooked through (usually about 5-10 mins more – remember, it’s always better to overcook, rather than undercook chicken, but try to get it tender and succulent). When the chicken is cooked, add in your heavy cream and stir. Don’t cook on too high a heat as you may split the cream.
Sprinkle over your garam masala and stir one more time – you’re done, just time to plate up and garnish…
If you have some almond flakes then toast them in a dry pan over a medium heat – almond flakes burn QUICKLY so keep tossing them to avoid this…
If you’re a moron, try and take a photo holding a full balti of curry and spill it all over yourself. Perfection…