Cooking, Food, Recipe

Eat This While You Read That: Pam Uphoff

Yes, it’s Sunday. No, I haven’t lost track of the days. What happened is that on Wednesday, the usual ETWYRT day, the blog was down. So here it is, and this coming Wednesday will be Clair Keirnan’s dish. 

outcasts and godsWhen I asked Pam for a dish for the series, she came back and told me that she’d recently discovered really good Korma at a local restaurant, and she wanted to develop a recipe for it herself, but hadn’t had time yet.

Sorry, Pam. I cheated. 

Before I go on to explain the depths of my perfidy, I want to introduce Pam’s work. The series she started with Outcasts and Gods is now 21  whoops, I missed one and now it’s 22 volumes strong, and still growing. Granted, some of those are short stories and novellas, but it’s addictive. I read them all. I love the characters, I love that she has them grow up and develop and… Yeah. It’s fun. I highly recommend it. If you’re looking for a little less commitment, then pick up The Lawyers of Mars, it’s three connected novellas that are side-splittingly funny.

Chicken Korma
Chicken Korma, the shortcut way.

She asked me to develop a recipe, and instead I bought a box mix for the sauce. I do try to make everything from scratch for this blog, but… Well, take a look at this recipe. I would have to buy between 5-7 ingredients in order to make it, and they are mostly spices. While I would happily cook Indian food from scratch often, we have discovered that the First Reader is not a fan of the cuisine. So for me to stock up on the specialty spices (black cardamom, tamarind, etc.) seemed pointless. Instead, I went to the import market and looked for a packet of specific Korma spices. So it’s a cheat, but not a big one, as the flavor is very close to what I’ve had in restaurants (the difference is that the mix was spicier. I order conservatively in the restaurant for heat level).

If your family loves Indian food, then take the time to make it according to the recipe I linked. If, like me, you will make it rarely or don’t have the time to find all the ingredients and carefully toast, blend and create, then find a good simmer sauce or spice mix. I you’re really in a hurry, you can buy jars of simmer sauce which only need meat and a veg added to them, then serve over rice. I preferred the packet which was the spices, and the rest of the sauce is assembled slowly to build flavors.

Eat This While You Read That: Pam Uphoff

Ingredients

  • Korma Spice packet
  • 3-4 onions, halved and sliced
  • 4 tbsp butter plus 4 tbsp butter
  • 2-3 lbs chicken thighs
  • 3-4 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp ginger paste (I buy mine frozen now, but you can just use a food processor on fresh ginger, or use 1 tbsp dried ginger)
  • 1 1/2 c plain yogurt (use Greek yogurt for a thicker sauce)

Instructions

  • In the butter (use ghee if you have it) cook the onions over med-low heat until they are translucent and melty. Yes, onions will go melty if you cook them low and slow - they caramelize, and are amazingly sweet. When they get there, dump the spice packet in and mix, letting the spices awaken in the fats.
  • Remove onions to a bowl. Add the second part of butter to the pan.
  • Turn the heat up to med-high, but keep an eye on it, you don't want the spices clinging to it to burn. Put the chicken thighs in the pan, skin-side down. Cook for a couple of minutes, then flip over and cook on the other side for a couple of minutes. Add in the garlic and ginger, moving the thighs around a bit to let the spices get into the fat.
  • Dump the yogurt in, and the onions. Stir gently, moving the thighs to allow the sauce to mix together, then making sure the meat is mostly under the sauce. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • While the sauce is cooking, put 1 cup basmati rice in the rice cooker with 1 1/2 c water. Cook on white rice setting.
  • If you want, add frozen peas to the sauce after 10 minutes of simmering. Don't put them in too early, they will mush.
  • When the sauce is done, serve over a thigh and rice in a shallow bowl. Very spicy, warm, rich, and delicious! Be aware that my spike packet, at least, had whole cloves and cardamom pods in it. They are not particularly good eats (although edible) and you will want to pick them out if you have them.
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    Caramelized onions covered in spices.
    Caramelized onions covered in spices.
    Browning chicken
    Browning the skin first keeps it from going all limp and nasty in the sauce.
    Which Korma
    The sauce is pale, but packed with flavor.
    Rice
    Fluffy Basmati rice, cooked to perfection with almost no effort on may part. Have I mentioned I love my rice cooker?

    Chicken Korma-7

    And there you have it, a dish of delectably spicy goodness, ready in almost no time, without having to trek out to the nearest Indian restaurant. The leftovers are even spicier the second day!

    This dish did cement the First Reader’s opinion of Indian food – it’s not his cuppa tea. But like so many other things, he’ll put up with it once in a while because I love it. And in return, I won’t make it often since there are plenty of things we both like. But I will make it from time to time for the lush buttery onions and all the spices making a flavor explosion in my mouth.

    You can find the full ETWYRT index page here. 

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