Qorma Lawand (Afghanistan)

June 29, 2012 § 2 Comments

J: Recently, one of my friends told us about United Noshes, an awesome project some people are undertaking to cook a meal from every member nation of the UN, in alphabetical order (thanks Colleen!).  We decided that it sounded like a terrific idea.  It’s always hard to try and come up with new exciting dishes that aren’t just variations on stuff we already make, so having 193 essentially pre-planned things to cook is awesome.  We are starting off here with Afghanistan, and I will say right off the bat that this yogurt-nut curry is getting added to our regular rotation.  It was absurdly delicious.

new comfort food

Qorma Lawand
(original recipe here)

1/2 c cashews or almonds (we used cashews, I highly recommend it)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, minced
1/2 c water
1.5-2 lbs chicken, boneless and skinless
1/4 c oil or ghee
2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 bay leaf
3 onions, thinly sliced
2-3 chile peppers, minced (we used jalapeños)
1 c whole yogurt
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 c cilantro, chopped

You’ll want to get going on the “marinade”/nut paste well in advance of when you want to eat.  The chicken should sit in the marinade for at least an hour to soak up some of the flavor, and the qorma itself needs to cook for about 45 minutes, so be sure to take that into consideration.

So, start off by adding the nuts, garlic, ginger, and water to a food processor or blender.  If you want to do a cursory chop of the nuts before you put them in, go ahead (especially if you’re using almonds — cashews are quite a bit softer).  Blend until you’ve got a fairly smooth paste.  Cut the chicken into approximately 1-inch cubes, place in a medium-sized bowl, and add the marinade, stirring so that the chicken gets evenly covered.  Cover with some cling wrap and put the bowl in your fridge for at least an hour, stirring again partway through to ensure evenness.

mm, raw chicken

When the chicken has marinated for long enough, add the oil to a large Dutch oven-type pot and begin heating on medium-high.  When it is hot, add all spices, including the bay leaf.


Let the spices cook for approximately 30 seconds, stirring so they don’t burn.  Then add the onions and chopped chilies, and stir so that everything gets coated in the spice mixture (try to keep track of where the bay leaf is, too, just for ease of extraction later).

ohmigosh onions

This will be probably one of the most divine things you have ever smelled.  I was floored by how delicious the aromas were — rich, exotic, and slightly sweet.

Sauté the onions and chilies for about 7-8 minutes, until the onions start cooking down and browning just a little.  Then, add the chicken and the cashew purée/marinade, and cook for another 7ish minutes.

i can smell it again just looking at this photo

Add some water and the cup of yogurt.  We added about 1 c of water, but that turned out to be far too much, so I’d recommend using about 1/2 c, and you can add more later if you think it’s necessary.  Add the water first, to cool the qorma off a little so you don’t curdle the yogurt, and then add the yogurt.  Stir until the yogurt is evenly distributed.


At this point, bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low (again, you don’t want to curdle the yogurt!) and cover.  Let it simmer for 35-45 minutes, checking and stirring every now and then to see if you need to add water or adjust the heat.

If you are making rice to go with this (suggested!), now would be a good time to start that.  We attempted making chalow/challow (link!) and had only moderate success, but take a look at the spices in that recipe and consider adding them to regular rice (or be adventurous and try the chalow for yourself! let us know how it goes, if you do).  It was really tasty, if not quite the right consistency.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and adjust the levels of any of the other spices to your tastes.  You can take out the bay leaf at this point, as well.  Stir in the cilantro, and serve on top of rice.  Enjoy!

crazy delicious

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§ 2 Responses to Qorma Lawand (Afghanistan)

  • Natalie says:

    I’ve been wanting to try to make korma/qorma FOREVER, I can’t wait to try this!! Looks awesome. Also, United Noshes looks like the best idea ever.

    • nombudsman says:

      You should definitely make it, it’s so good!! And yeah I’m really excited to explore some new/unfamiliar cuisines — we’ll definitely be asking your thoughts when we get to Spain 🙂
      Actually come to think of it, we’re working on Andorra now, but it’s been a struggle to find something that doesn’t involve 18 different types of hard-to-find animal parts. If you have any ideas, let us know!

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