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Indian Cuisines

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Korma

The korma is a type of mild curry dish that originated in India and is often made with yoghurt sauce, cream, or nuts. Both vegetarian and non-vegetarian kormas exist.

Overview

The flavour is based on a mixture of spices, combined with yoghurt and/or coconut cream kept below curdling temperature and incorporated slowly and carefully. Nuts are used but not in great quantities; almonds or cashews appear to work well.

It can be argued that the subtle flavours of the korma can only be fully implemented by marinating the meat (chicken or lamb) in the spice mixture[citation needed]. However, this step can be bypassed if the meat is divided into small pieces.

More important is the point at which the meat is introduced. Chicken requires fairly thorough coating with the spice mixture and heating evenly at a fairly high temperature (enough to cook each piece properly), followed by a cooling period after which the yoghurt and cream are added.

However, lamb requires a very brief initial cooking process simply to brown the surface of each piece, followed by a similar process of cooling, similar to the corresponding chicken method; but in this case the temperature must be maintained at a low temperature throughout. This avoids the lamb becoming tough, which is often a serious problem if a large amount is to be cooked (which involves large temperature heterogeneity in the mixture if left to stand). This low cooking temperature is usually quite difficult to achieve, but if done correctly results in a remarkable and memorable dish.

What is fascinating about korma and other mild curries is the very wide variation that may be encountered in individual recipes. Chili is nearly always used, but the precise method of preparation results in widely different flavours; likewise the way that the ginger is divided and cooked is critical. However, occasionally one hears of bay leaves or dried coconut being added. If this is done, the results can be sharply different.

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