Qaliya Mehtabi (Creamy Chicken Curry with Almonds)

Almonds, yogurt and cream are combined with an array of spices in Mughlai cook Salma Husain's sumptuous dish garnished with a regal flourish
By Gary Rhodes
Qaliya Mehtabi (Creamy Chicken Curry with Almonds)
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes plus soaking
  • Effort: easy


  • 100 g blanched almonds
  • 85 ml cooking oil
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 2 green chillies, chopped to a paste with 1 tsp water
  • 1 small chicken, skin removed and jointed into 8 pieces, or 6 chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 250 ml natural yogurt
  • 375 ml water
  • 125 ml double cream
  • 1 tsp ground black cardamom
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 8 sheets silver leaf
  • 4 blanched almonds, finely shredded


1. Soak the almonds in warm water, just enough to cover, and set aside for 20 minutes.

2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for 3-4 minutes on medium heat. Stir in the ginger and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes before adding the green chilli paste - continue cooking for another 30 seconds.

3. Add the chicken pieces, cumin and coriander, and season with salt. Fry for 2-3 minutes until the chicken is browned on all sides. Gradually add the yogurt and cook, stirring constantly, until the chicken is almost cooked before adding the water. Bring to the boil and remove the pan from the heat.

4. Put the almonds along with the soaking liquid in a mini food processor and blitz to a fine paste.

5. Remove the chicken pieces from the sauce and strain the sauce back into the pan. Set the over a medium heat and return the chicken pieces to the pan along with the almond paste. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes.

6. Add the cream, cardamom and lemon juice, stir and leave to simmer for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving dish, dab with silver leaf and sprinkle with almond slivers before serving.

About Salma Husain
Salma Husain is a food historian who focuses on the royal kitchens of the Mughal Emperors. Salmas work includes translating recipes from ancient Persian manuscripts and bringing them to modern day India. She is currently writing a book about the cuisine, history and culture of the Indian city Lucknow.

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