I know it’s a loaded thing to post anything even remotely politically inclined in an election year (or ever for that matter!)—no good can come of it. And yet… As my friend Tim wrote recently, the election can bring out the worst in people. There’s fear-mongering on one side, and self-righteous bullying on the other. I think it’s safe to say that building walls and barring people of a particular faith won’t solve America’s problems nor will it build it up in the world. And threatening to stay home and not vote—unless it’s your candidate that gets the nomination—seems awfully myopic in my view. Some of the viewpoints feel to me very privileged and entitled (for goodness sake—vote! Please!); and some arguments are basically code for, “Shit, us white people are losing our dominance!” Neither stand is particularly inspiring.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about all this talk of wall-building and barring people from entering this country. I think about these things a lot, particularly while I make Aziz Ansari’s mom’s chicken korma. Aziz Ansari, he of the Parks and Recreation—and most recently of the Master of None—fame, shared his mom’s chicken korma recipe onLucky Peach. And, so, while I’m mincing ginger and coating the chicken in the marinade for its overnight “bath”, I think about how much wealth and beauty immigrants have brought and continue to bring to this country. As an immigrant myself, living in Brooklyn among a very diverse community of various faiths and ethnicities, I find it particularly heart-warming to see Bangladeshi kids kick around a soccer ball with the ultra-orthodox Jewish ones.
In any case, if you’ve ever wanted to cook amazing Indian food, make this chicken korma. It might be one of the best things to ever emerge from my kitchen and I’m not exaggerating in the slightest. You cnan also file this under “ugly food that tastes amazing”. Below, I tell you the modifications I made; hopefully I’ve clarified the original recipe—which seemed to be missing a step—but was otherwise spectacular.
Happy weekend, everyone! Xo
Fatima Ansari’s Chicken Korma
Adapted from Lucky Peach
I made a few changes to the recipe, most notably by toasting whole spices and grinding them (instead of using already ground ones). And I also added some water, as it seemed the recipe as written was missing a step. I also happened to be out of cashews and swapped in almond meal which I had on hand.
2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken, preferably dark meat, cut into 2-inch pieces
1/2 cup plain yogurt (not Greek)
3 cloves garlic, grated into paste on a Microplane
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon whole coriander
1 teaspoon whole fennel
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2–3 green chiles, seeded if desired
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 cup almond meal (or ½ cup cashews, that you will then need to grind into a paste with fennel, coriander, and cilantro)
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Ghee rice or chapati, for serving
Place the chicken in a large bowl or a resealable plastic bag. In a bowl, stir together the yogurt, garlic, ginger, salt, turmeric, and pepper until combined. Add to the the chicken and make sure that the chicken is well coated in the yogurt marinade. If using a plastic bag, make sure you squeeze as much air out of it (it will help the chicken to attain more intense flavor). Refrigerate the chicken overnight.
When ready to cook, in a small, dry pan set over medium-low heat, toast the coriander and fennel until fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer both spices to a mortar and pestle and finely grind. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the the onion, chiles, and garam masala, and cook, stirring, until fragrant and the onions begin to turn brown, about 10 minutes. Add the chicken with its marinade, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes. If the pan starts to go dry ¼ cup water to loosen the sauce. Add the almond meal, cilantro, and the reserved spices to the chicken, along with ½ to ¾ cups water, and stir to combine. Cover the chicken, reduce the heat to low, and cook the chicken until cooked through and tender, about 40 minutes. You might see the oil separate from the sauce – this is fine, just stir everything together to combine. Serve alongside ghee rice or chapati.
[To make ghee rice, cook basmati rice as you normally cook rice, but add some butter or ghee in the very beginning. I also like to add a few green cardamom pods. How much ghee to add is entirely up to you. For 1 cup of uncooked rice, I like to add between 2 and 3 tablespoons of ghee. By the way, ghee is nothing more than clarified butter, so you can either purchase it or easily make it at home.]