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Murgh Korma (chicken cooked in a yogurt-almond sauce) & Kaddu (Indian-spiced pumpkin)

In a word?  Seductive.  This exotic chicken nestled in a yogurt-almond sauce is laden with heady spices that weave their way lazily from the pot and into your very being.  It's like a love spell...putting a slow easy smile on your lips...a dreamy glaze films your eyes...and a something stirs from deep in your loins...  It lured us all in with its sexy ways...seamlessly welcoming us to our table set with Indian classics.

Yes, this is the second installment of recipes to accompany dinner party for PFB challenge #3... A Taste of India!  If you decide to invite this Murgh Korma into your home and share it with your guests...keep in mind the spell it will cast upon them.  They will surely be under your its spell and feel right at home.

Murgh Korma
Chicken cooked in a Yogurt-Almond Sauce
from Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey
serves 6-8

One 2½" piece fresh ginger, peeled & chopped
5 fat garlic cloves, peel & chop
3 Tbs. blanched, slivered almonds
1½ c. plain yogurt
1½ tsp. garam masala
1 Tbs. ground coriander
1 tsp. cayenne pepper
1½ tsp. sea salt
5 Tbs. olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced into fine half-rings
Two 2-inch cinnamon sticks
8 whole cardamom pods*
2 bay leaves
3¼ lb. chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces & skinned
2 Tbs. sultanas (golden raisins)
3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro

Put ginger, garlic & ¼ c. of water into a blender.  Blend until you have a smooth paste.  Add the almonds and another 2 Tbs. water.  Blend again until you have a smooth paste.  

Put the yogurt in a bowl.  Whisk it lightly until smooth.  Add the garam masala, ground coriander, cayenned, and salt.  Stir well to mix.

Put oil into a large, nonstick pan and set over medium heat.  When hot, put in sliced onions.  Stir and fry for 10-12 minutes, turning heat down, if needed, until onions are reddish brown.  Remove the onion slices with a slotted spoon, squeezing out as much of the oil as you can with the back of a second spoon, and leaving that oil behind in the pan.  Spread the onion slices over a paper towel-lined plate.

Put the cinnamon, cardamom, and bay leaves into the same pan over medium.  Stir, once or twice.  A minute later, put in the chicken pieces, only as many as the pan can hold easily in a single layer.  Brown the chicken lightly on both sides, removing to a bowl when done.  Do all the chicken pieces this way.  Add the golden raisins.  Stir a few times and then add the paste from the blender.  Stir and fry for 2 minutes.  Now put in the contents of the bowl with the chicken, including all accumulated juices, the contents of the yogurt bowl, and the fried onions.  Stir to mix and bring to a simmer, still on medium.  Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook gently for 25-30 minutes, stirring gently now and then, until the chicken pieces are tender.  Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve.

*that I'm fortunate enough to have since Christo was awesome enough to send me some a while back!!

In the midst of the chicken's seductions...I raised a bite of the spiced pumpkin to my my mouth.  Nice.  Very nice. But... Truth?  If I'm putting something orange and smooshy into my mouth...it better be sweet potato...or my mouth gets pissed!  No joke.  The mouth wants what the mouth wants, after all.  That aside, this understated dish of squash...cooked until tender with those pronounced spices...and then coaxed gently into a mash...was another gorgeous veg accompaniment to our Indian feast.!

Kaddu
Indian-Spiced Pumpkin
also from Madhur Jaffrey's Climbing the Mango Trees
serves 6-8

¼ c. olive oil
½ tsp. whole cumin seeds
½ tsp. brown mustard seeds
¼ tsp. nigella seeds
¼ tsp. whole fennel seeds
1/8 tsp. whole fenugreek seeds
2-3 dried hot red chilies
~2 lbs. pumpkin w/out skin or seeds (from an ~3 lb. pumpkin), cut into 1" cubes
1 tsp. sea salt
1½ Tbs. light brown sugar

Pour oil into a large, nonstick pan, and set over medium-high heat.  When hot, put in cumin and mustard seeds.  As soon as mustard seeds begin to pop, a matter of seconds, add the nigella, fennel, fenugreek, and red chilies.  Stir once quickly, and put in all the pumpkin.  Stir for a minute or two.   Cover, turn down heat to low, and cook for ~40 mins, or until just tender, stirring now and again and replacing cover.  Uncover, add salt and brown sugar.  Stir gently, mashing the pumpkin lightly.
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