Korma, which literally means “cooked meat,” is a dish that can feature chicken, lamb, or beef as its main protein. Classically, water and some sort of stock, be it vegetable or meat-based, are mixed with yogurt and cream. This results in a thick sauce. Meanwhile, the chosen protein is seared over high heat. Then the protein and yogurt sauce are allowed to cook together over a much lower flame, until the protein is tender.
As with many Indian dishes, korma is relatively simple, made extraordinary by a unique blend of characteristic spices. Coriander and cumin are added to the yogurt sauce. Cumin adds a warm spice and coriander lends korma its faintly acidic, orange essence.
Korma is believed to have originated in the kitchens of the Mughal Empire, a dynasty that ruled Northern India from 1526 to 1857.
Korma can be mild or fiery hot. At Neha Palace, we suggest a medium heat, but modifications can be made on an individual basis.
A variation, navratan korma, replaces meat with either paneer (a traditional Indian cheese) or nuts. Navratan translates to “nine gems” and navratan korma is traditionally prepared with nine different vegetables.
The ever-popular (and delicious) biryani is another dish that comes to Westchester County from the Mughal Empire. And although the Empire’s center lay in Northern India, biryani is now most popular in the South.
Basmati rice, the basis of biryani, is grown almost exclusively on the Indian subcontinent. In 2012, India produced over 5 million tons of basmati! True basmati is a prized commodity, and shipments to America are often adulterated with varieties of lesser quality. It is Neha Palace’s firm commitment to use only the highest quality 100% certified long-grain basmati rice.
In the Persian language, biryani translates both to “fried” and “roasted.” Before becoming a staple of the Mughals, biryani began as a traditional Persian meal. It followed the spice routes from Persia to India, on the camels of Muslim traders.
Like korma, biryani can be made with many different types of protein. A customer favorite here at Neha Palace is our lamb biryani. In a traditional biryani, the rice and meat are cooked separately, each in a distinct set of spices. At Neha, we use a combination of cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaf, coriander, mint, ginger, and saffron. A mouthful to say the least! Obviously, biryani is one of the most heavily spiced Indian dishes.
A properly made biryani (for an example, make a reservation!) should be almost dry; the thick sauce in which the meat is cooked is allowed to reduce almost completely, which infuses the protein with intense flavor!
Tikka masala begins simply as tikka, a protein tossed in spices and yogurt, then baked in a large, clay tandoor oven. This mix is then served in a masala, or “spice mix,” usually consisting of tomato and coriander.
Although tikka masala can be made with lamb, fish, or paneer, it’s almost always prepared with chicken.
It’s certainly the most popular Indian dish in the world. 23 million servings of chicken tikka masala are sold in Indian restaurants every year. In the city of Sylhet, Bangladesh, the schools and charities are run solely on the proceeds from the sale of chicken tikka masala. And guess what? It’s not even Indian.
Yep, that’s right. Chicken tikka masala was invented in London, probably in the 1970s, and probably by a chef from Bangladesh. But we can’t be sure; there are multiple myths surrounding the origin of chicken tikka masala. To learn more, check out this article from Menu Magazine.
[space height=”3″] So there you have it: Neha’s three most popular dishes. Come in and try one today, or all three if you’re prepared for a feast!