Braised Chicken Maharaja

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1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1-inch piece cinnamon stick

8 whole cloves

5 green cardamom pods, husked

2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil or sweet butter

1 cup finely chopped onion -- 2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

2 large bay leaves

2 pounds chicken breasts with ribs, skinned

1/8 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

3/4 cup plain yogurt

1 tablespoon sour cream

10 whole cashews

10 whole blanched almonds

1/2 cup water

Minced cilantro for garnish

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