CHICKEN PISTACHIO KORMA
50 Great Curries of India
by Camellia Panjabi
Pista Chicken (Delhi)
I first ate this dish long ago in a small roadside restaurant in a by-lane in the heart of Mumbai's bazaar areas. Years later I met the cook, who conies from a family of professional wedding caterers near the Jama Masjid mosque area of Old Delhi.
It is very delicate in taste, and attractive to look at with its creamy light green color. The taste depends on the quality of pistachios used—the brighter green, the better. This dish deserves all-white meat, so breast of chicken is best. One can of course make it with a whole chicken as well.
• 2¼ lb chicken
• 4 oz shelled pistachio nuts, unsalted
• 8 green chiles
• 5 tablespoons light cream
• 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
• 2 onions, chopped
• 1 x 1/2 in piece of fresh ginger, chopped
• 6 plump cloves garlic
• 3/4 teaspoon garam masala powder
• 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
• 2 cinnamon leaves or bay leaves
• 3/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
• 1¼ teaspoons fennel seeds
• 1 tomato, chopped
• 1 teaspoon green cardamom powder
• 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
1. Cut the chicken into pieces as desired. Use the bones and trimmings to make 3 cups of stock.
2. Boil the pistachios for 10 minutes in 1 cup of water. Remove from the heat, drain, and leave to cool. Rub the nuts with your fingers to remove the skin. Grind the pistachios with 4 of the green chiles and cream and reduce to a paste in a blender.
3. Whisk the yogurt well with a fork.
4. Fry the onions in the oil in a large pot until lightly colored. Add the ginger, garlic, garam masala and turmeric powders, cinnamon or bay leaves, white pepper, and fennel seeds and fry for 2 minutes. Add the pistachio mixture and fry for 2 minutes.
5. Add the chicken and saute for 5 minutes. Then add the tomato, yogurt, remaining chiles, and salt to taste. Add the chicken stock (or water) and cook until done, about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with cardamom powder and cilantro leaves just before serving.
In India, gourmets use Peshwari pistachios for their taste and bright green color.