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Recipes - Family Recipes From Madhur Jaffrey Book

Compiled by Judi Silva

Family Recipes from the book Climbing the Mango Trees By Madhur Jaffrey

Quotes by author Madhur Jaffrey, except where otherwise noted.

Chicken Cooked in a Yogurt-Almond Sauce (Murgh Korma)

“This is one of my favorite dishes when I am entertaining. It is relatively simple to prepare, looks rich but isn’t (as I use nonfat yogurt), and taste heavenly. It is also authentic Moghul/Delhi in style.

The chicken needs to be cut for a curry: First, it should be skinned. Each breast piece should be halved and legs must be divided into drumsticks and thighs.”

Serves 4-6


One 2 ½ -inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4-5 good-sized cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
3 tablespoons blanched, slivered almonds
1 ½ cups plain (nonfat) yogurt
1 ½ teaspoons garam masala (see page 295 of book for recipe)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
½ - 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
1 ½ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons peanut or olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced into fine half-rings
Two 2-inch sticks of cinnamon
8 whole cardamom pods
2 bay leaves
3 ¼ pounds chicken, cut into 8 pieces (see headnote)
2 tablespoons golden raisins (sultanas)
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro


Put the ginger, garlic and ¼ cup water into a blender. Blend until you have a smooth paste. Add the almonds and another 2 tablespoons water. Blend again until you have a smooth paste.

Put the yogurt in a bowl. Whisk it lightly with a fork or whisk until smooth. Add the garam masala, ground coriander, cayenne and salt. Stir well into mix.

Put the oil into a large, preferably nonstick sauté pan and set it over medium heat. When it is hot, put in the sliced onions. Stir and fry for 10-12 minutes, turning the heat don if necessary, until the onion slices are reddish brown. Remove the onion slices with a slotted spoon, squeezing out as much of the oil as you can with the back of a second spoon, and leaving that oil back in the pan. Spread the onion slices over a paper towel-lined plate.

Put the cinnamon, cardamom and bay leaves into the same pan over medium heat. Stir once or twice. A minute later, put in the chicken pieces, only as many as the pan can hold easily in a single layer. Brown the chicken lightly on both sides, removing them to a bowl when done. Do all the chicken pieces this way. Add the golden raisins. Stir a few times and then add the paste from the blender. Stir and fry for two minutes. Now put the contents of the bowl with the chicken, including all the accumulated juices, the contents of the yogurt bowl and the fried onions. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer, still on medium heat. Cover, turn the heat to low, and cook gently for 25-30 minutes, stirring gently now and then, until the chicken pieces are tender. Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and serve.

Black Beans Cooked in Punjabi Style (Kali Dal)
(reviewer’s note: Kali Dal reminds me of Kaali Dil - Punjabi song by Navin Kundra*)

“In the villages of the Punjab, kali dal is an everyday food, eaten with an enrichment of homemade white butter. Whole-wheat flatbreads and seasonal vegetables are served on the side. You may serve the dal with rice as well.”

Serves 6-8


2 cups whole urad dal with skin
5 good-sized cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
One 4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (this will make a very mild dal; if you prefer it hotter, put in ¾-1 teaspoon)
¼ cup peanut or olive oil
¾ cup
pureed tomatoes (also called strained tomatoes or passata)
1 ½ teaspoons salt
6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (optional)


Pick over the beans and wash them in several changes of water. Drain the beans and soak them in 5 cups of water overnight. (Alternatively, put the washed beans in the same amount of water in a pan and bring it to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Cover it and turn off the heat. Set aside for one hour.)

Drain the beans again. Put the beans in a pan, add 5 cups fresh water, and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low (the beans should simmer very gently), cover partially and cook 1 ½-2 hours or until the beans are tender. Stir every now and then.

Meanwhile, put the garlic, ginger, cayenne and ¼ cup water in a blender. Blend it until you have a smooth puree. Set a small (6-inch), preferably nonstick frying pan with the oil in it over medium heat. When it is hot, add the paste from the blender. Stir and fry for 3-5 minutes. When the beans are tender, pour this mixture into the pan with the beans. Add the tomato puree, salt and cream. Stir the beans and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover partially and simmer gently, stirring now and then for 15 minutes. Stir in the butter, if desired, and serve.

Light Rice Pudding (Phirni)

“My mother always set the pudding in shallow individual bowls, shakoras, made of rough terra-cotta. We could taste the earth in the pudding. Those days are gone now, even for most of us in Delhi! This recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Serves 4


5 teaspoons rice flour (also called rice powder)
3 tablespoons plus 1 quart milk
1/8 teaspoon cardamom seeds
¼ cup sugar, or to taste
1 tablespoon chopped, shelled unsalted pistachios


Put the rice flour in a medium bowl. Slowly add the 3 tablespoons of milk, and mix into a smooth paste.

Set the remaining quart of milk to boil in a heavy, smallish pan, over a medium-low heat. Crush the cardamom seeds in a mortar and add them, as well as the sugar to the milk. As soon as the milk begins to boil and rise, remove it from the heat. Stir the rice paste in the bowl once again. Slowly pour the hot milk into the bowl with the rice paste, mixing with a whisk as you do so. Now pour the contents of the bowl back into the pan, place over low heat, and bring to a simmer. Stir frequently with a whisk and simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Pour into four shallow individual bowls, and allow to cool and set slightly. Sprinkle the pistachios over the top, and refrigerate. Serve cold.

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