Kurma or Korma is a type of curry preparation that was bought to India by the Mughals. While it has evolved much over the years, it is essentially a rich creamy curry and can be both vegetarian and meat based.
However in the Chettinad region of the south of India, the cream gets replaced by coconut which is blended with poppy seeds, cashewnuts and other spices to form a rich and flavourful curry.
I have veered away from the usual proteins, opting for duck instead of chicken or lamb as it’s a delicious meat that pairs beautifully with the spices and coconut.
And because duck curry can be a wonderfully warming winter dinner.
And also because we get such high quality duck meat in Australia!
So here’s a Chettinad style Duck Kurma – absolutely flavourful and fingerlickin’ good! I’d serve it with appam or idiyappams, and a vegetable dish on the side, but you could do rice if you prefer. Naan or any other type of flatbread – though not traditional – could be good too.
And of course, you could replace duck with any other meat of choice, or eggs or mixed vegetables/paneer/tofu for a an entirely different kind of Kurma.
Use any meat of choice or replace with eggs or mixed vegetables/paneer/tofu for a vegetarian option.
Wet spice paste:
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
3 fresh green chillies; broken in half
2 tsp white poppy seeds
10 raw cashewnuts
7 garlic cloves; crushed
2 tbsp roasted Bengal gram (split)
1 ½ inch piece ginger, crushed
60 gms fresh grated coconut
For the curry:
Whole duck (approximately 1.1kg), cut into curry sized pieces
3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
2 inch piece cinnamon bark
4 green cardamom
1 large onion, finely chopped
½ tsp turmeric powder
2-3 sprigs curry leaves
2 large ripe tomatoes; pureed
2 tsp red chilli powder
Salt, to season
To prepare the wet spice paste:
Heat oil in a large pan and add the cumin, fennel seeds and green chillies. Then add the poppy seeds, cashews and garlic; sauté for a few seconds.
Next add the Bengal gram, coconut and ginger. Mix well and sauté for a minute or two till the coconut turns a little toasty but not too brown.
Remove from heat and allow to cool thoroughly. Blend with just enough water to get a wet paste.
To make the curry:
Heat the remaining oil in a large wok/kadhai and add the cinnamon and cardamom followed by the onion. Sauté till the onions are softened and turn light brown.
Next add the turmeric powder, chilli powder and curry leaves; mix to combine.
Add the tomato puree and season with salt. Cook on medium heat till the mixture comes together and you can notice oil appearing at the sides of the masala.
Next add the wet spice pasta and mix well to combine. Sauté for about 5-6 minutes on low to medium heat stirring continuously.
Add the duck pieces; mix well and cook for 1-2 minutes. Then add 1-2 cups water (depending on how much gravy you prefer) and bring to boil. Turn down the heat and simmer gently till the duck pieces have cooked perfectly and the gravy has thickened. Taste and season with salt if necessary