Indian braised chicken with onions, cloves, and ginger

I learned to like Indian food in London, where delicious Indian food can be had in simple restaurants at hamburger prices and the fare at fancy places ranks among the finest food on Earth. Back in America, to satisfy my new craving for good Indian food I had to learn to cook it myself. This is a Friday-night supper dish in our family!too complex for a weekday meal, and too plain to serve to company.

Indian food is often quite elaborate, so by their standards this is a fast and simple dish. It is a classical Indian recipe, found in many cookbooks.


(serves 4)


  1. Cut the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces and set aside. Peel the onions and chop them fine. You should have about 3 cups of onion. Mince the garlic and add to the bowl of chopped onions.
  2. In a big frypan that has a lid, heat the butter and oil, then sautae the onions and garlic for about 10 minutes, until the first hint of browning. Use "medium high" heat.
  3. Crack the cardamom seeds between your fingers, just to get the shell open. Att them to the pan. Add the ginger, cloves, bay leaves, and salt. Sautae until the onions are nice and brown, about 5 more minutes.
  4. Mix the coriander and red pepper with the yogurt. Add the yogurt to the frypan, stirring as you pour, slowly enough that the onion doesn't stop bubbling. It could take several minutes to do this, depending on the diameter of your frypan.
  5. When the last of the yogurt dries up, add the chicken pieces and brown them. Add 1/2 cup water, reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.
  6. Stir in the milk and turn off the heat. It needs to sit a few minutes to let the flavors blend. The longer you let it sit after cooking, the better it will taste (up to several hours).
  7. While the chicken is sitting, cook some rice. I make saffron rice to go with this dish.
  8. Fish out the bay leaves, and as many of the whole cloves as you can find, before serving. Check to make sure it is moist enough (it should have the consistency of applesauce). Reheat over low heat. Serve.


Indians put a lot more salt in their cooking than this recipe calls for; if you want to make it more authentic you should double or triple the salt. Indians also don't like chicken skin, and will go to great lengths to prevent even small pieces of chicken skin from getting into the food. I rather like chicken skin myself, and I don't try very hard to keep it out of this dish.

If you can't find green cardamom seeds, don't bother using white ones!they've been bleached and processed and don't have much flavor left. Use ground cardamom instead.


Difficulty: moderate (timing is somewhat important)
Time: 1 hour plus "sitting time."
Precision: Approximate measurement OK.


Brian Reid 
DEC Western Research Laboratory, Palo Alto CA 
reid@decwrl.DEC.COM -or- {ihnp4,ucbvax,decvax,sun,pyramid}!decwrl!reid 
Recipe last modified: 2 Jan 86

Original header

From: reid@glacier (Brian Reid)
Subject: RECIPE: Chicken Korma
Date: 31 Jan 86 05:17:05 GMT
Organization: Stanford University, Computer Systems Lab
Approved: reid@glacier.ARPA

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