Happy Martin Luther King Day! I very much needed today off. And to help spread the word of peace as per MLK, I decided to think of the most peaceful country of all–India.
I love the flavor of Indian food; the problem lies, however, in its presentation: it looks like mushy baby food. It’s truly hard to get a wonderful presentation out of the saucy curries, but if you put looks aside, you’ll enjoy one of the most unique flavors known to the world. Another fear lies in that it can also be overwhelmingly spicy if one is not cautionary. Again, put your fears aside, and know that even the wussiest eater could indulge in certain dishes, particularly this one!
Often times people are afraid of Indian food; they rarely eat it out, and even more seldom, cook Indian at home. Honestly, the largest obstacle is getting the authentic ingredients. If you go on kicks like I do, you’ll eventually stock up enough spices to make every thing.
But in case you want Indian and you don’t want to invest like I have, today’s post is a popular dish with simple ingredients. I have seen recipes with even more authentic ingredients, but the issue is that it’s not very accessible even for the Indian spice hoarder like me.
No, I am not an Indian historian, but the little I do know I will tell–firstly, Navratan means “nine gems” and, if I’m not mistaken, korma is the cooking process, which is “braised.” Korma is not exclusive to Indian; for example, Turkey has their own version called “kavurma.” Countries within this region have variations of this curry with yogurt/cream sauce. While we are not literally eating an array of rhinestones, the dish is loaded with assorted vegetables and possibly fruits. In theory, you should have nine different vegetables and/or fruits. I will provide a suggested list in case you’re not feeling too daring.
Another reason I am posting this recipe is that there are very few rules; you can add whatever vegetables (even fruits) you have in your refrigerator and pantry. Do not be afraid to make it your own. I will advise, however, that you eat Navratan Korma (or Chicken Korma) out at a reputable Indian restaurant to make sure you have some sort of reference point when making your own Korma. It’s always a good to be inspired!
To me, this dish is comparable to a beef stew (without the meat, but the meat is welcome–chicken is your friend here). It’s saucy and comforting to eat; similar to stew, it is best soaked up with a carbohydrate. This dish is excellent (and I will almost like to say it is required) with jasmine rice, and even more divine with garlic naan to mop up the sweet deliciousness. And while the consistency, appearance, and vegetables are akin to a “beef stew,” the flavors are simply distinct. There is this sweetness that comes from the Garam Masala, a purely Indian flavor. There is a creaminess from the coconut milk that is married with curry. The vegetables take on all the gold (as the color, if you’re not like me and put too much curry powder, could be a yellow) that this sauce has to offer.
Before I begin, I want to say there are some ingredients on my list that are not negotiable. I know, I told you I would be flexible, but without some of these, it’s no longer a korma. It might still be a curry, but it’s not a korma if you don’t have…
*Coconut Milk (you can use heavy cream, but more authentic approaches would be coconut milk)
*Curry Powder (I don’t care if its simply McCormick Curry Powder–it’ll work here! You need the yellow from the Tumeric)
Okay, simple enough? Here we go…
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or any other oil)
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon of minced fresh ginger root (add more if you want)
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 potatoes cubed ***
- 4-8 ounces of tomato sauce (this depends on how much you’re making–you may need to add sauce as you go–I recommend the sauce you don’t need to open with a can so you can throw it back in the refrigerator)
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons of curry powder
- 2-3 tablespoons of garam masala
- 1-2 tablespoons of white sugar
- 1 cup of frozen peas ****
- 4 carrots cubed ***
- 1 can of canned corn***
- 1 can of coconut milk (full fat if possible!)**You can also use heavy cream; it won’t hurt!
- 1/4 cup of cashews, crushed finely (plus more whole)
- 1 cup of Basmati rice
*** = you can leave out and substitute with whatever you want/have
Vegetables I highly recommend in addition to the ones above: green beans, broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers (green, yellow, and/or red). I believe that peas, corns, and potatoes are very standard as well as cauliflower.
Fruits I recommend: I believe dried fruits are very authentic; often times golden raisins are put in this dish by traditionalists; however, I did not have any so I threw in craisins (dried cranberries.) Also, diced pineapple can complement the dish and is used in some recipes! I would stick to dried fruits and try to keep the fruits in similar taste profiles.
In addition to fruits and vegetables, you could certainly add chicken (or any other white meat); chicken korma is equally popular as Navratan Korma!
A Peaceful Demonstration
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat.
- Stir in the onion, and cook until tender. Tip: If your onions are taking a while to become translucent, throw a small (I mean a very little amount) of water to the pan with onions; the onions will sizzle and sweat faster!
- Once the onions are translucent, mix in ginger and garlic, and continue cooking 1 minute. You may add the curry powder at this point, if you wish.
- While the onions are becoming aromatic, parboil (or microwave) your vegetables; at the very least, cook your potatoes!
- Also, either food process the cashews or mash up with a hammer in a plastic bag. They should be pulverized!
- Mix potatoes, carrots, cashews, and tomato sauce. Add sauce as needed (if vegetables are not well coated.) Season with salt and curry powder. Cook and stir 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Leave mixture covered to
- Meanwhile, measure out one cup of Basmati rice to two cups of water. Add a little bit of oil/butter and salt. Bring to a rolling boil, and immediately cover to release steam. Rice should be done in about ten minutes (make sure you take the heat down to low so you don’t burn your rice, and whatever you do, DO NOT OPEN THE LID.) Once the rice is almost finished steaming, throw in some frozen peas. Fluff rice with a fork and keep covered to stay warm.
- Going back to the sauce, stir in peas, corn, and cream (coconut milk) into the skillet. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 10 minutes. The longer you simmer, the better. I recommend even putting this into a crock-pot if you would like to want until the next day, too.
- Before serving, throw in garam masala and sugar (garam masala should be saved towards the end as cooking can take away the flavor). Adjust seasonings to your taste. Sprinkle whole cashews, dried raisins, and other desired toppings.
- Serve rice with the Navratan Korma; you should also have garlic naan for the leftover sauce. Get those brownie points! 🙂