The key to understanding spices is getting to know them all on their own; the taste, the strength of flavor, and the subtle notes. The complexity of a single spice is absolutely astonishing, which makes combining them all the more incredible.
For example, coriander is a great component to spicy dishes because its actually a cooling agent, which helps to balance the heat of other ingredients. The sweetness of cinnamon pairs well against the bitter earthy tones of cumin. Cayenne pepper actually increases in heat the longer it cooks and mature within a dish, so to manage the intensity you can add it towards the end of the cooking process.
By merely scratching the surface of the spice world my discovery has been quite humbling. It’s like that saying, ‘The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know’. Our world is bursting with flavor! What’s more exciting is to imagine the way one can choose to explore and experiment with those flavors.
No more excuses. It’s time to truly dive into the spice cabinet, throw out the old bottles, replace with fresh ingredients, and get to mixing-n-matching. Never fear! We can be in the same boat. Jump on in! We’ll start this adventure together.
We’re kicking off the World Food Wednesday series with Chicken Korma, a traditional dish from South Asia which consists of meat or vegetables braised in a plethora of spices and cooked in yogurt and a nut paste. The marriage of spicy meat with creamy, cool yogurt creates a spunky, bold dish that keeps your palette in perfect balance the whole meal through.
Learn about the spices in Chicken Korma with our handy dandy spice diagram below. When you know your spices, you know your dish, and that makes experimenting a lot more interesting!
Recipe inspired by Appetite for China
1/2 c sliced almonds
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 Tbl olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tps ginger, minced
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 in pcs
1 1/2 c plain yogurt
2 bay leaves, dried
1 Tbl light brown sugar
In a food processor or with a mortar + pestle, add 1/2 of the almonds. Reserve the other half for garnish. Add in your spices: cumin, coriander, cardamom, cayenne pepper, paprika, cinnamon, and cloves. NOTE: If you want to control the level of spice, reserve your cayenne pepper for later, as this spice grows stronger the longer is cooks.
Heat the oil in a large heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent and golden, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.
Add the chicken and sauté until chicken is mostly white and cooked.
Add your almond + spice mixture. Stir until chicken, onions, garlic, and ginger is well coated.
Add the yogurt, bay leaf, and brown sugar and thoroughly mix.
Over low heat, continue cooking chicken until the sauce has thickened. Add the salt and pepper and adjust with more salt if needed.
Transfer to a serving dish. Garnish with almond slices and chopped cilantro. The korma is somewhat of a strew, but can also be served over rice or your favorite grain.
Limoges bowl provided by/for sale through Refabed Chic.