When I was researching chicken korma recipes, it seemed about half of them called for almonds and half didn't. I decided to try a method without almonds, but when I went to make the garlic-ginger paste, I added too much water and ended up with a runny mess. So, in went the almonds. Voila, paste!
In the end, I think the almonds contributed to the thick, textured sauciness of this dish. Perfect for sopping up with some naan.
As is often the case, I worked with a couple different Madhur Jaffrey recipes as my main inspiration because her recipes are so often on point. I added our garam masala because the aromatic blend of cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves and black pepper is the perfect fit.
If you prefer to make this without almonds, I'd recommend using the same amounts of ginger and garlic plus 1 tablespoon water for the paste.
Adapted from recipes by Madhur Jaffrey
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
5–6 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 oz sliced or slivered almonds
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
8 green cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon single-origin wild mountain black cumin
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons garam masala
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1-2 teaspoons Kashmiri red pepper powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Blend the ginger, garlic, almonds and 3 tablespoons water in the container of an immersion blender or electric blender until you have a smooth paste.
Put the oil in a large skillet and set over high heat. When very hot, add the bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom pods, cloves and black cumin seeds. Stir once or twice and add the onions. Stir and fry for about 5 minutes or until the onions turn brownish. Add the ginger-garlic paste and the garam masala and fry for a minute. Add the tomato paste and fry for another minute. Add the chicken, chile powder, salt and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil. Cover, turn the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes.
Remove the cover, add the cream and cook on high heat, stirring gently, for another 7–8 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.