Chow Town

Mother’s chicken curry signaled a gathering of friends, family

Chicken Korma with Aloo
Chicken Korma with Aloo Special to The Star

Hello, Chow Town readers. It’s an honor to be here, and I thought I might begin with a quick introduction.

My name is Jyoti Mukharji and I teach Indian cooking classes in my Prairie Village home.

In the past five years, more than 1,900 aspiring Indian chefs have come through my kitchen. At a recent class, I was thrilled to add Chow Town’s Jill Silva to that number.

One thing led to another, and here I am writing my first blog post.

I was born and raised in India. I moved to the U.S. with my husband after we graduated from medical school in Delhi. We have been living here for the last 37 years, and we are proud to call Kansas City home.

I left medicine in 1986 to raise three wonderful boys, and I have not looked back since.

My biggest culinary mentors are my mom and mother-in-law. My mom, a red-blooded Punjabi, taught me the traditional fare of Punjab, a state in the north of India.

When I became engaged to my now-husband Jhulan, my Bengali mother-in-law shared with me her favorite recipes from Bengal, a fish and mustard-loving state in the eastern part of India.

These lessons inspired a lifelong love of cooking and culinary exploration. The cuisines of India are extremely diverse, and the classes I now teach in my kitchen include not only the foods of Punjab and Bengal, but of states across the country.

The meals of my childhood never used processed goods, and from-scratch recipes are an additional focus of my teaching, with the exception of canned tomatoes.

My mother cooked meat only a few times a week, typically whenever she was expecting company. The smell of her signature chicken curry wafting from the kitchen was something my brother and I looked forward to.

It signaled not only a delicious meal but also a gathering of friends and family. It is this recipe I would like to share with you today.

Chicken Korma with Aloo

Savory chicken curry with potatoes

Makes 6 to 8 servings

1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs, fat trimmed

4 skinless chicken legs

2 large potatoes, quartered (as desired)

A little more than 1/2 cup canola oil

2 bay leaves

1 cinnamon stick

4 green cardamoms

4 cloves

6 crushed black peppercorns

2 medium onions (or 1 large), finely chopped

4 cloves of garlic, grated

1 1/2-inch piece of ginger, grated

1 8-ounce can tomato sauce

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

Salt to taste

Cayenne pepper (ground) to taste

1/2 cup plain, nonfat or low-fat yogurt, beaten

For garnish:

1/4 teaspoon garam masala (Available at Ambica at 91st Street and Metcalf Avenue)

1 tablespoon cilantro

Heat the oil in a deep pan on medium. Add bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves and black peppercorns. After a minute or so, add chopped onion and potatoes. Sauté until onions are light brown. Add tomato sauce, ginger, garlic, and turmeric and sauté for a few minutes until the oil separates from the sauce.

Add the chicken, salt and pepper, and sauté until the chicken changes color — roughly 10 minutes. Cover and cook on low heat for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes and chicken are done. Add the yogurt, mix well, cover and turn off the flame.

Serve hot and garnish with garam masala and cilantro. Can be served with rice or Indian flatbread.