Amazingly Delicious Korma with Mango

I forget how wonderful this korma recipe is when I don’t make it for awhile. I should probably preface any further remarks about this recipe by saying that I make no claims of authenticity with this recipe; in fact, I have never seen a curry like this one on any Indian restaurant menu. This recipe is designed to be easy and tasty and whether anyone outside of Western culture would touch it with a ten foot pole, I couldn’t tell you.

As with most of my curry recipes, I treat this one as a sauce that can be used to cook whatever items (animal, vegetable… maybe not mineral…) of sustenance one desires. I have make this recipe with chickpeas and with mixed vegetables, and I suspect it would be quite tasty with chicken or seafood. I made this recipe two weekends ago and I was so happy with it that I’m making it again this weekend.


1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup cream
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 to 2 teaspoons hot red pepper or paprika
2 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 cup blanched almonds or cashew pieces
2 tablespoons mango chutney
1 lb. chicken, seafood, tofu, chickpeas, mixed vegetables, etc.

Sauté the onion in the melted butter. Combine all remaining ingredients in the pan and simmer until nuts are softened. Process smooth with an immersion blender (or, in the alternative, process smooth in a food processor before adding to the pan). Add the meat or vegetables and reduce heat. If sauce gets too thick, add a bit of water to achieve a more curry-like consistency. Cook until meat and vegetables reach desired doneness.

The Great India Buffet Tour: Coriander India Grill

After a long cold winter (well, January and February at least) of struggling to summon the ambition to venture out for any reason, let alone for India Buffet, we finally made a date to check out our next stop on the tour, Coriander India Grill in Squirrel Hill. It was a day only a Pittsburgher could love, 50’s and drizzling, it even inspired two guest critics to come along for the ride: Nik, an India Buffet aficionado and Millvillian, and Jay, an Asian food enthusiast and Squirrel Hill denizen.

Coriander India GrillCoriander Grill is exactly what you would expect, in terms of decor, and then some. The outside and inside plaster wall surfaces are smothered in a lime green color (perhaps “cilantro green” would be more appropriate), which is, perhaps, overkill, but the booths were clean and comfortable, and water served in heavy faux-cut crystal goblets. The lunch buffet at Coriander is offered every day, and a dinner buffet is served on Tuesday and Sunday evenings. The cost is reasonable, being $7.99 during the week, and jumping only to $8.55 on the weekends.

Taking in the scope of the buffet, it became apparent that Coriander’s offerings were more extensive than most, but not quite so gargantuan as the buffet at Taj Mahal. The salad/dessert bar section had a wide variety of chutneys and pickles, including the expected tamarind and mint, as well as the not terribly common coconut. Rice and naan provided the standard starches. Onion pakoras proved to be a crispy appetizer. The meat selections were just as standard as the starch: chicken curry, tandoori chicken, chicken tikka masala. The vegetarian selection, though, came as a pleasant surprise in its extensiveness. There was mattar paneer, chana saag, an inviting dal, vegetable korma, spiced mixed vegetables and cauliflower. The highlight of of the curry selection was a dish off to the side of red chili paste, very useful for raising the heat level on mild buffet offerings.

Coriander GrillAs we dove into our teeming plates of buffet gleanings, we quickly reached a consensus that the taste quality of coriander’s food was a cut above. There was something intriguing about the taste of each dish. Flavors bespoke fresh ingredients and well-tuned spice mixes. So often buffets rely on over-salting to lend taste to food that does not arrive immediately at the table, but in every dish at Coriander, the salt flavor was low and the spices rang at a good pitch. The pakoras were crispy, but the coconut chutney, while tasty, was uninspired. The saag was one of my favorites, as I am a particular fan of saag, and Nik agreed that it exceeded ordinary Indian restaurant saag. The spinach was still quite green, not too dark and overcooked. The chicken tikka masala was definitely a few flavor levels above typical, a danger that faces any buffet vat of tikka masala since it is practically a requirement. I was even impressed by the mattar paneer, which I didn’t get until my second trip, since mattar paneer is among of my least favorite curries. Sabrina detected a pleasantly sour whisper of vinegar in many dishes, and happily attributed it to the Goan influence that she has noticed on the regular menu, as she frequents Coriander for non-buffet dinner. The dal was a favorite among all the guests at our table, and everyone agreed its appeal lay in its likeness to an Indian-style chili.

Coriander SpecialtiesThe biggest controversy of the day came from the vegetable korma. I enjoyed the flavor of this dish and I was happy to taste a highlight spice—my guess was cardamom—which set it apart in good contrast to the other dishes. However, the korma did suffer one pitfall; it’s a common danger that plagues the preparation of korma, that because of the nut pastes used in its preparation the curry sauce dries out easily, and so water or milk must be added frequently as long as it stews over the fire. Sabrina and Jay agreed that the flavor of the korma sauce was not enough to outweigh their distaste at the pudding-like consistency.

After eating, the table discussed our selections; Sabrina and I compared the experience to our previous buffet stops and we solicited the input of our fellow lunchers that day. Coriander got points for variety, being larger than any other buffet we visited, save the Taj Mahal (what is the appeal of the buffet, after all, if not to sample a plethora of dishes), but it also got points for taste quality. We easily agreed that the flavor of Coriander’s food was second only to the buffet at Tamarind. In the end, we decided that taste trumps size, and so we placed Coriander second to Tamarind in the scheme of buffets we’ve visited so far.

Coriander India Grill on Urbanspoon

Smorgasbord of Randomness, Part 2

When last we met, the menu was well-appropriated with low-carb, but often meat-ridden selections. The other major dietary contingent in my dinner party was vegetarian, and it was for these guests that I originally planned the meal around Indian curries.

SaagI cooked two of my very favorite curries; both are also relatively easy to make. The first is a recipe I have developed over the course of a few years with much trial and error. It is a recipe for saag (Indian creamed spinach), and it makes no claims to authenticity, but it’s the closest I’ve come to capturing the flavor and texture of saags I’ve had in restaurants. The second is a quick korma recipe I found online many years ago. It was originally formulated to use as a sauce over baked chicken. I use it for any good curry medium, be it chicken, chickpeas, vegetables, paneer, etc. On this occasion, I wanted to make a double dose for the larger group (having leftovers never hurts!), and since I had one can of chickpeas and one brick of paneer already in my kitchen stores, I decided to use both.


1 lb. spinach
8 oz. other green vegetable (e.g. broccoli, mustard greens, collards, cabbage, peas, etc.)
1-2 tablespoons oil or butter
1 onion, peeled and chopped
6 cloves of garlic (3 teaspoons minced)
2 inches fresh ginger root, minced; or 1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cayenne pepper or paprika
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon dried methi leaves (optional)
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup cream, coconut milk or plain beaten yogurt
1/2 cup (or more to taste) fresh cilantro leaves, or a couple tablespoons of cilantro chutney
8 oz package of cream cheese

Combine all but the last ingredient in a food processor until well pureed; or, in the alternative, simmer all ingredients and then puree with an immersion blender. Cook until spinach is darker in color. Add cream cheese and cook until melted, whisking often. Consistency should be thick and not runny.

When I made it this last weekend, it turned out to be a little runnier than I usually like; I credit that to the fact that I used coconut milk instead of cream (no particular reason, just because I had a lot of coconut milk around). If going that route, you might want to leave extra cooking time to let the liquid steam off. I also used dried cilantro instead of fresh, since I didn’t have any on hand at Saundra’s house. I missed the fresh cilantro flavor, and so when I reheated some of the leftovers this week, I tried mixing in some store-bought cilantro (coriander) chutney, and it effectively brought in some of that flavor I know and love.


1 (8oz) brick of paneer, cubed
1 can chickpeas
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup cream or plain beaten yogurt
2 cloves garlic (1 teaspoon minced)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper or paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoons blanched almonds or other shelled nuts
1 tablespoon mango chutney

Sauté the onion in the melted butter. Meanwhile, combine all remaining ingredients (except chickpeas and paneer) in a food processor until smooth; or in the alternative add these ingredients to the pan, simmer a minute, and then puree with an immersion blender. Add the chickpeas and paneer and reduce heat. Heat until cooked through and thickened. If sauce gets too thick, add more cream (or milk) or yogurt, or even water if you feel like you’ve added enough cream already.

Garam MasalaThis dish turned out well enough last weekend, as the recipe is fairly predictable. The only difference was that I used a new Garam Masala, and as I’ve discovered, not all garam masalas are created equal. As a traditional spice mix, garam masala has some inherent traditional properties to distinguish it from other spice mixes, such as Chaat Masala, Madras Curry Powder or Bafat Masala, but otherwise, recipes differ. This blend had a bit too much… something. Clove, perhaps? Anise? Nothing terrible, but just not exactly what I expected. For the sake of regularity, here is my own garam masala recipe, based on garam masalas I have enjoyed in the past:


3 tablespoons powdered coriander seed
2 tablespoons powdered cumin
1 tablespoon powdered cardamom
1 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon powdered cloves

Combine all ingredients. Store in a spice jar and use in recipes where garam masala is called for.