Recipes: Quick Chicken Korma

Spice and children don’t mix. Well not much in my house these days. With ages ranging from eight to four, my children’s tastes are conservative and plain. I am mounting a cunning campaign to sneak some mild spices onto the menu, hoping to adapt their palates to accept the occasional more interesting flavour. Sometimes it works and sometimes they just eat the rice and leave their father and I to polish off the rejected chicken korma. This is Ok with me. As long as they have at least tried a mouthful, they are being exposed to new flavours and they won’t starve or suffer from malnutrition with one rejected meal every few weeks. I’ve read that children need to have been exposed to new flavours and foods about twenty times before they’ll begin to accept them. That means seeing them at the table even if they’re not eating them themselves and being encouraged to try even a small taste. The idea is to reprogram them a litttle at a time!

Yesterday I cooked this quick Chicken Korma recipe for the whole family. The recipe originally comes from Nigel Slater’s The 30-minute Cook, which has been invaluable to me for years, as a source of quick and tasty suppers. I usually find I take a bit longer than the stated 30 minutes, probably because I chop slowly and get interrupted every few minutes by the kids’ demands. He wrote the recipe for two adult servings. I find that if I increase the amount of chicken and keep the rest of the ingredients the same it makes enough for the whole family. This is my version.

Quick Chicken Korma

50g/2oz butter
2-3 medium onions, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
4cm/1 ½ inch fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cardamom or seeds from 6 cardamom pods lightly crushed
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (for mild, increase if like burny hot)
50g/2oz almonds or cashews
2 bay leaves
4 boned chicken breasts
125ml/ ½ cup yoghurt
125ml/ ½ cup double cream
2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves

Melt the butter in a deep, heavy bottomed saucepan, add the onions, garlic and ginger and cook for about 5 minutes until golden over a medium-low heat. It is essential not to burn the butter, add a little oil if it is browning. Add the spices, nuts and bay leaves and cook for 3 minutes stirring frequently. Cut the chicken into large bite-size pieces. Add to the pan, stirring to colour it a little, then pour in 250 ml/1 cup of boiling water. Season with salt and pepper and leave to simmer for about 15 minutes until the chicken is tender. Mix the yoghurt and cream together then stir it into the chicken and spice mixture. It needs to simmer very gently for 4-5 minutes, without boiling, which will curdle it. Serve with the chopped coriander scattered over with plain rice or pilaf to soak all the creamy spicy sauce.

My oldest and most conservative eater came hungry to the table saying "Mmm smells nice." Once he saw the yellow of the turmeric he wasn’t so sure. He scraped off every vestige of sauce and nibbled tentatively, before reverting to eating plain rice. The six year old also had to scrape off the sauce then after initial uncertainty decided she liked it and asked for more. Youngest refused point blank to have any on her plate but later demanded a piece of chicken and then asked for another piece. I therefore deem my campaign a partial success – two out of three consumed some of the chicken and us parents got to eat a more interesting meal for a change. Maybe in a year or two the whole family will be enjoying the same food making my life as chef easier.

Copyright 2006 Kit Heathcock

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About The Author, Kit M. Heathcock
Kit Heathcock - worked and travelled in Italy for many years, is passionate about food and loves being a fulltime mother. Co-creator of Food & Family a wonderful resource for delicious recipes and natural health advice and A Flower Gallery, or follow her blog at Food & Family Blog,