Qormah or Korma comes from the Urdu word ḳormā, which means to “braise”. This dish is cooked with meat (Lamb, Veal or Chicken) and nadroo (LOTUS ROOT) in onion and yogurt gravy. As with other braised dishes like Rogan Josh, it is characteristic of Moghul cuisine, which was first introduced to Northern India by the Mughal Empire in the 16th Century; the Mughal were a predominantly Muslim people of Turko-Mongol descent (some claimed to be direct descendants of Genghis Khan).
This dish is moderately spicy, thanks to its use of kashmiri red chili powder; to minimize the heat, reduce the amount accordingly.
- 3 lbs chicken bone-in thighs and drumsticks, skin removed, chopped crosswise against the bone (Or Lamb or Veal cut into bite-sized pieces)
- 1 tsp kosher salt, more to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper, more to taste
- 1/4 cup ghee
- 1 inch ginger, grated
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 green chile peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6 whole cloves
- 2 black cardamom pods, lightly smashed
- 2 green cardamom pods, lightly smashed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 onions, sliced
- 2 tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 2 tsp kashmiri red chili powder (or 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper)
- 1 cup chicken stock, more as needed
- 1 cup full fat plain yogurt
- 1/2 lb lotus root, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch slices
- 2 drops kewra water (optional)
- 1/2 bunch cilantro, divided, to garnish
- Season the chicken with the salt and pepper. Warm the ghee in a dutch oven or deep skillet over medium heat; working in batches, brown the chicken until golden on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove and set aside the chicken as it browns.
- Increase the heat to medium-high, then add the ginger, garlic, chile peppers, cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom pods, bay leaf, and cumin seeds; saute until aromatic, but not burnt, about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium, then stir in the onions and tomatoes; saute until softened, about 6 minutes, then stir in the turmeric, chili powder, and chicken stock. If you’d like, you can blend this sauce in a high-speed blender until smooth, then pour it through a sieve for a velvety-smooth sauce; otherwise, proceed directly to the next step.
- Before the sauce returns to a simmer, ladle some of the sauce into the yogurt to temper, then stir the yogurt into the main sauce. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly to prevent the yogurt from curdling; simmer until the sauce has darkened and oil starts to form at the surface, about 15 minutes, stirring often to prevent scorching. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and gently simmer until the chicken is just cooked through but still firm, about 15 mins; add more stock only if the sauce gets too thick as it simmers.
- Stir in the lotus root and simmer until the chicken and lotus root are tender, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure each piece of chicken and lotus root spend time smothered in the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir in the kewra water, then serve garnished with cilantro.
*This technique will produce lotus root that is tender but with a bit of bite, almost like a lightly crunchy potato. If you like tender lotus root, add it when you return the chicken to the pot in step 3.