Slow Cooked Chicken Korma Style Curry (Murgh Mussallam)

It’s finally that slow cooker/curry time of year.  And Saturday’s in our house lend themselves to slow cooker meals as Dad may wander back in from rugby with Sprout and Big Boy any time between 5-7pm.

Last night I opted for Murgh Mussallam from my dogeared copy of Madhur Jaffrey’s An Invitation to Indian Cookery (1987 reprint), originally bought for my mother but never used!  Murgh Mussallam is princely saffron tinted dish of whole cooked chicken, but I made a slightly more economical version with chicken thighs.  It is a lightly spiced curry in a yoghurt (or coconut milk – see below sauce), probably the nearest authentic Indian dish to what we Brits know as a Korma, with little to no chilli depending on taste.  And slow cooked, the chicken is so tender it takes no chewing at all.

Princess, a true curry aficionado, wolfed hers down.  Sprout & Big Boy, who had been plied with crisps and Halloween chocolate at the club house before their return home from tea, were a little more wary but still announced it yummy.  I would definitely repeat this again, maybe even with a whole chicken and some saffron, another day soon.

Serves 5

Marinade
6 cloves of garlic
1 piece of ginger 2in long 1 in wide
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
4 tbsp plain yoghurt (or coconut milk)
1/4 tsp chilli powder

10 chicken thighs
8 tbsp vegetable oil
4 medium sized onions
4 garlic cloves
1 piece of ginger 1 inch long 1 inch wide
1 tbsp ground or flaked almonds
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
Seeds from 8 cardamon pods
1/4 tsp ground or whole cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground mace
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground or whole black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon

Place all the ingredients for the marinade into a mini processor and puree.  Remove the skin from the chicken thighs, prick all over with a fork and rub the marinade over them and leave for 2 hours.

About 20 minutes before the end of the marinading time, peel and roughly chop the onions, garlic and ginger and fry gently in 6 tbsp of the oil for about 10 minutes or until the edges have begun to brown.  Scoop out with a slotted spoon, reserving the cooking oil, and place in the mini processor.

With a fork, lift the chicken thighs out of the marinade one by one and scrape off as much of the marinade as possible back into the bowl.  Brown the chicken in the frying pan you have just taken the onions out of whilst you dry roast the spices, turning every now and then.

In a small, dry, frying pan stir the almonds until they begin to brown.  Add them to the mini processor.  Dry roast the ground coriander and cumin in the same pan until they begin to darken, then add these to the mini processor with the rest of the ingredients.  Blitz to a puree and add to the warming slow cooker.

Add the chicken to the slow cooker when browned (don’t worry if it doesn’t – sometimes there is too much marinade).  Add the 300ml of water to the frying pan, or the remainder of the can of coconut milk, and scrape in every last drop of the marinade left in the bowl.  Bring to a simmer and add to the slow cooker. Stir and leave to cook on High for about 5 hours (put in on low if leaving it to cook all day).

Serve with basmati rice and wilted spinach.

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