Heat water in a pot. Once the water starts boiling add chopped onion, garlic, chopped ginger, and cashew nuts. Stir and cook for 5 minutes over medium flame.
Then remove from the flame, drain the water and set aside to cool down.
Once cooled, blend them together into a silky smooth paste and keep aside. If required add 1-2 tbsp water but not much.
Frying the Chicken
Wash the chicken pieces and pat dry them to remove any excess water.
Then smear some salt and set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Once the oil turns hot, add chicken pieces.
Saute over a medium to high flame for 6-7 minutes.
Then transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Making Chicken Lababdar
Heat remaining oil in a pan. Add bay leaf, whole black pepper, cinnamon stick, green cardamoms, cloves, and star anise.
Saute for a few seconds or until aromatic. Then add the masala paste and stir continuously until oil separates.
Add red chili powder. Stir to mix.
Add tomato puree. Stir and cook for 10-15 minutes or until oil separates. Make sure the masala doesn't stick to the bottom.
Add cumin and coriander powder. Stir to mix.
Add whisked curd or yogurt. To avoid splitting, remove from flame and constantly stir for a minute. Once done return to the flame.
Add salt as required. Stir and cook for a few minutes more or until oil starts appearing on top.
At this point, add chicken. Stir for 2-3 minutes over a high flame.
Add ½ cup of warm water. Stir to mix.
Simmer the flame, cover and cook until chicken is cooked. Stir in between.
Add garam masala powder and roasted Kasuri methi powder. Stir to mix
Turn off the flame and add cream if adding to prevent the cream from splitting.
Stir to mix. Cover the lid and allow to rest it for 5 minutes to combine all the flavors
Mughlai chicken lababdar is ready to serve. Serve hot with plain basmati rice, naan, or paratha.
To prevent curd from splitting, remove the pan from flame and stir the whisked curd rapidly for a minute. Then return the pan to the flame. You won't get lumps.
Cashews could be replaced by almonds or you could use half almonds and half cashew nuts.
For a more rich flavor and taste, do use ghee(clarified butter) and cream. You could use half oil and half ghee as well.
To prevent the cream from splitting, make sure to add the cream after switching off the flame.
For a vegetarian version substitute chicken with paneer(Indian cottage cheese).
Storage: To enjoy the real flavor and aroma, do not store more than 1-2 days in a refrigerator. In addition, the gravy could be made ahead and refrigerated. Just before serving fry the chicken and cook with the gravy until done.
Serving Suggestions: This chicken lababdar recipe is best served with plain basmati rice, jeera rice, roti, naan, or paratha.