Malai chicken curry is just one of those dishes that flies under the radar. It’s not a dish that’s talked about enough when we speak of Indian food. But I’m hoping to change that because it’s an incredible dish. It’s very easy to make Keto friendly and it’s just the creamiest curry ever. I mean malai literally means cream and this curry screams it. Originally made with cashews, this Keto version swaps that out for almonds. Of course you can still use cashews if you like, a small amount wouldn’t kick you out of Ketosis but it might be higher net carbs.
Whatever way you decided to go, make sure you try this dish. Serve it with some cauliflower rice or my Keto naan.
Malai = Cream
When it comes to Indian food a lot of you might notice the heavy use of dairy. Whether it’s the yogurt to marinate the tandoori chicken or the cream that goes in a butter chicken or just the fact that ghee is used a lot. This however is more true for the cuisine of Northern India. They have the richer and creamier curries. Malai itself means cream. But what is also common is that often nuts like cashews are used to add an additional layer of creaminess. In this recipe I subbed the usual cashew for almonds.
Onions – The real base of this curry is the onions along with the almonds. We soften the onions but we don’t brown them. This helps us to maintain the white look of the curry. Whenever you go to a restaurant and order a malai kebab or curry you expect a white, not too spicy curry. If you push the onions too far it changes the flavour to more oniony and also the colour to a light brown.
Whole Spices – We want flavour in the curry but we don’t want it to be hot. Of course if you like it hot just throw in some green chilies. The spices we use, bay leaf, cardamom and clove add a very subtle flavour to the dish allowing us to really taste that ‘malai’. You get something that is packed wit flavour but not hot. You get a bit of it from the pepper but we don’t use a heavy hand when seasoning the dish with that. We also use powdered spices like cumin and coriander which don’t detract from the flavour but add to it.
Kasuri Methi – This really is one of the hallmark flavour notes in the dish. It’s like how you use parsley in a cream sauce or fresh basil maybe. It really perfumes the dish beautifully. It’s something you can buy from amazon and store in your fridge for really long.
900gramsFull Chicken Legsdivided into thigh and drumsticks. With bone but without skin
1TspGaram Masala Powder
1TspGinger Garlic Paste
1TspKasuri Methi/Dried Fenugreek Leaves
50grams Greek Yogurt or Plain Dahi
100mlHeavy Whipping Cream
Water as needed
Salt to Taste
Start by marinating the chicken with the salt, pepper, cumin powder, coriander powder, ginger garlic paste, kasuri methi and yogurt. Mix well and set aside for at least 1 hour if not longer. You can marinate it overnight as well.
Start by heating the ghee in a non stick skillet and then add in the bay leaf, cloves and cardamom. Once they are sizzling in the hot ghee add in the onions and almonds.
Cook on a low/medium heat till the onions are softened. We don't want to brown them. Once translucent and soft turn off the heat and let the mixture cool.
Then blend the onions, almonds and whole spices in a blender with a bit of water. Blend till you get a smooth paste
Turn the pan back on and add in the paste. Make sure to rinse out any left over paste with water.
Fry the paste for 2 minutes before adding in the marinated chicken and then cook for 2-3 minutes on a medium heat.
Add in about 200ml of water and then bring to a gentle boil. Once that's done turn the heat to medium and cover and cook for 6-8 minutes.
After that remove the lid and cook for a further 6-8minutes till the chicken is fully cooked and the gravy has reduced and is slightly thick.
Add in the heavy cream and mix well. Turn off the heat and your curry is ready. Finish with some fresh black pepper and more kasuri methi.
Sahil is the master chef behind Headbanger's Kitchen. He hates writing up recipes because he's a man of few (written) words, but when he's on camera, he's all about the jibber jabber. Somebody stop him.