Chicken INDIAN Cardamom Masala with Cashews

This delicious dinner recipe is featured in "Where Flavor was Born"

Serves 4
  • 2 tablespoons garam masala
  • 6 to 10 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1 piece (1 inch) cinnamon stick
  • 2 teaspoons red chile flakes
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2/3 cup plain full-fat yogurt
  • 1 4 pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces, or 4 chicken thighs, halved
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 4 onions, chopped
  • 3 to 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons cashews
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste or ketchup
  • 3 medium carrots, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

Garam masala is a blend of ground spices common in the Indian and Pakistani cuisine, whose literal meaning is 'hot (or warm) spice'. There are many variants: most traditional mixes use just cinnamon, roasted cumin, cloves, nutmeg (and/or mace) and green cardamom seed or black cardamom pods.


I do not like curry and Indian spices but I love the recipe.
So, I adapted for my Romanian test:

For the yogurt I used:

-        1tbs paprika,+ 1tbs nutmeg,+ 2 tbs salt, 1tbs piper, + lemon and orange zest,+ lemon juice ,+ 1tbs oregano.

In a frying pan add oil and  browned chicken, and put the chicken legs into the crock pot.

Add onion and  large stripes of colored pepper to the frying pan. Once they are soft add to crock pot. Add carrot and cauliflower pieces, and few new potatoes.

I love to add some bay leaves and one whole garlic, peeled, to the sauce.

Add diced tomatoes and cashew and  set up crock-pot for to 8 or 10 hours.

Just before you serve add sour cream or yogurt.

I love dill, so I added just before I  brought it to the table.


 For us, Romanians, this is perfect with polenta, but is as good with rice, too.


  1. Place garam masala, cardamom, cinnamon stick, chile flakes, ginger, and salt in a mortar and lightly crush with a pestle. Place chicken, yogurt, and spice mixture in a large bowl, turning chicken to coat. Let marinate, covered and refrigerated overnight. 
  2. Using a rubber spatula, wipe excess marinade from chicken; reserve marinade. Pat chicken with paper towels to dry; sprinkle with turmeric.
  3. Heat about 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch-oven over high heat. Working in batches if necessary, add chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until skin is nicely browned, about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove chicken from pot and set aside. Reduce heat and add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Return chicken to pot, along with reserved marinade, cashews, and tomato paste. Cover and cook, 10 to 15 minutes. Add carrots and cauliflower, cover, and continue cooking until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes more.
  5. Stir in cream or yogurt, if using, and cook 2 minutes more. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.
First published: November/December 2007


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