Navratan Korma with its beautiful medley of colorful vegetables, mildly sweet yet rich nutty sauce reminds me of spring in a bowl. "Korma" is a mughlai dish which is widely popular in India and it has both vegetarian and non vegetarian lovers. I already have a chicken korma recipe shared before. See it here.
Korma is royal dish which does take some effort in terms of collecting and preparing vegetables, soaking and grinding the nut pastes, hand pounding the spice powder etc but on occasions like Holi or Diwali I like to delve into that territory of tedious cooking and relive the memories of times when my grandmother and mother spent long hours in the kitchen come any festival. As a little girl, I used to spend the entire day watching them, tasting and learning the intricacies of indian cooking.
Navratan translates to" nine jewels" and the mughlai dish is said to be named after the nine courtiers of mughal emperor Akhbar. The recipe of the sauce base changes ingredients slightly depending on which part of india it is being prepared in but essentially the base is made with yogurt, cream, nuts and seeds paste(north india),whole spices or a coconut base (south india). Last but most important, using ghee as a cooking fat gives it that a luxurious authentic taste.
A few things about how I make Navratan Korma :-
- I like to add paneer to my navratan korma though its less common. But even when we order this dish from restaurants, I ask them to customize (if possible) and add paneer. You can say I love my paneer:)
- I use a lot of colorful vegetables - 6 to 7 kinds when I make this dish. Prepare the vegetables according to how long it takes to cook them since they finish cooking in the sauce and we don't want few of them to be mushy.
- I add nuts like cashews and almonds both in the sauce base as well in the curry. Also fruits like pineapple chunks and pomegranate arils give the sauce a nice fruity burst here and there when you eat. Nuts and fruits are totally optional though.
- I grind fresh spice powder which takes the sauce to next level, however you can use store bought powders and mix them and use.
- Use fresh nuts and seeds to make the nut paste for the sauce, it makes a lot of difference in taste.
- There are few steps to the recipe however, you divide the work in between a couple of days. Like I make the nut paste, prepare the vegetables and (sometimes) grind the spices, slice the onions etc a day ahead to make cooking easy.
- Please avoid using pressure cooker for making this dish, it is one of those dishes where slow cooked sauce gives absolutely delicious results.
Vegetbles, Nuts & fruits (Prepare upto a day ahead)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut in ½ inch thick dics
- 1 cup cauliflower florets
- 10-12 green beans, cut in 1 inch stalks
- 1 medium potato, peeled and cut into 6-8 pieces
- ⅓ cup yellow corn kernels
- ⅓ cup shelled peas, blanched
- 50 gms paneer, cut in chunks, optional
- ⅓ cup fresh pineapple, ripe & firm
- 2 tablespoon pomegranate arils
- ⅓ cup raisnis and nuts of choice (raw cashwes, almonds, walnuts etc)
For the Nut paste (Prepare upto a day ahead)
- 1.5 tablespoon poppy seeds
- 1 tablespoon melon seeds
- 12 whole cashwes
- 12 almonds
- ¼ water for grinding
- 1 large bay leaf
- 1 black cardamom
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 4 green cardamom
- 3 cloves
- 2 inch cinnamom stick
- 2 twigs of mace
For the Spice powder (Prepare upto a day ahead)
- 8 black peppercorns
- 1 green cardamom (pods only)
Ingredients of Korma Sauce
- 4 tablespoon ghee
- ¾ cup thinly sliced onions
- 1 tablespoon ginger + garlic + green chilli paste ,simply pound 4 garlic cloves, 1 inch piece of ginger and 1 hot chilli in mortal pestle
- ⅓ cup plain full fat yogurt, beaten
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- ½ teaspoon tumeric powder
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
- Salt to taste
- 4-5 saffron strands
- 2 tablespoon ghee (for garnish)
- Garnish fresh mint, pinch of saffron (optional), ginger juliennes etc
Make the nut paste
- Add all the listed nuts and seeds to a bowl and soak in hot water for 30 minutes.
- Drain the water, remove peel of almonds and transfer everrthing to a small grinder jar.
- Add ¼ cup water or as needed to make a smooth fine paste.Set aside.
Make the Spice powder
- Add all the listed spices to a dry grinder and make a fine powder. Set aside.
Make the Korma
- Heat up the ghee in a deep and wide pan. Temper the ghee with all the listed whole spices and fry for 30 seconds till they crackle and become aromatic. Dont let burn.
- Add the sliced onions next and saute them for about 5-6 minutes in medium heat till they turn golden.
- Add the ginger garlic & green chilli paste and saute for 15-20 seconds till the raw smell goes away.
- Next, add the nut paste that we made along with tumeric and red chilli powder. Saute for 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to low and while continously stirring add the yogurt else it will curdle.
- Saute everything for 3 to 4 minutes on a low flame. The nut paste has a tendency to stick, so stir often so that the mixture does not get stuck to the bottom of the pan.If neede, you can add 1-2 tablespoon of water.
- Add the vegetables (except corn and peas). Stir and add 1 cup of water. Season with salt and mix to combine.
- Cover the pan and and simmer the vegetables are about 95 percent cooked, dont cook too soft.
- Add the paneer pieces next (you can fry them in a bit of ghee if desired) along with corn and peas. Mix and add heavy cream next and gently stir everything again. Let simmer for another 2-4 minutes on a low stove. Dont let boil once you have added the cream. Switch off the stove, while still hot, sprinkle the spice powder that we made along with saffron strands and let sit.
- Heat 2 tablespoon ghee in another small pan and fry the whole nuts for 30-40 seconds untill golden.. Add the pineapple, raisins and ginger juliennes next and saute for 30 seconds untill raisins plum up.
- Add everything to the korma along with fresh herbs and mix gently to combine.Let Korma sit for 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm.