When I was growing up in India, most of the dried fruit and nuts used to come from Afghanistan or Pakistan. They were mobile vendors on bicycles, who would do door to door selling. They were referred to as Kabuliwala, meaning a person from Kabul.
I am writing about this, because this korma dish uses pistachios. They are referred to as pista for short and generally reserved for ice-creams and halwas but pistachios along with cardamom add an interesting flavour to this chicken dish.
1 kilo of boneless, skinless chicken thighs
100g shelled pistachio nuts, unsalted
6 green chillies
2 onions (100g each approximately)
3 centimetre piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
6 plump garlic cloves
¾ teaspoon garam masala powder
2 bay leaves
¾ teaspoon ground white pepper
1 heaped teaspoon fennel seeds
12 cardamom pods
3 tablespoons chopped coriander stems, leaves and roots
1 teaspoon tamarind puree
200ml chicken stock
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt to taste
Cut the chicken thighs into half or a third depending on the size. Set aside.
Place pistachios in a microwave safe bowl that is fairly large. Pour enough water to submerge the nuts from a freshly boiled kettle. Let soak for a couple of minutes and then microwave on high for three minutes. Let cool. Once cool, rub the nuts with your fingers and remove the skin. Set aside.
Quarter one of the onions and finely dice the other onion. Place the onion quarters in a microwave safe bowl and pour enough water to drown the onions from a freshly boiled kettle. Microwave on high for 2 minutes. Discard the cooking water by fishing out the onions.
Put the pistachio nuts, the onion quarters, ginger, garlic, 4 of the green chillies, coriander leaves in a food processor along with 50mls water and process to a fine paste.
In a large sauté pan, heat the oil and fry the onions on medium high for five minutes until lightly coloured. Add the garam masala, white pepper, bay leaves and fennel seeds and fry another minute. Mix in the spice paste and stir continuously for a further two minutes.
Add the chicken and sauté for five minutes. Add the tamarind puree, remaining chillies, chicken stock and salt. Cook for another 15 -20 minutes until done.
Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and using a rolling pin or mortar and pestle powder the seeds. Just before serving, sprinkle the freshly ground cardamom powder. Serves 4-6.