chicken korma

Chicken Korma Recipe

Updated: August 28, 2022, By Swasthi, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Chicken Korma at its Best! This Indian Chicken Korma is the ultimate comfort food – made delicious & flavorsome with easier steps. For a Classic Indian meal, serve it with plain steamed Basmati Rice, Butter Naan, Roti or Parathas, alongside Lassi or Raita. Chicken Korma also goes well with flavored rice like Ghee rice, Cumin Rice & Turmeric Rice.

chicken korma recipe



Korma is a South Asian dish that’s very popular across the world like Chicken Biryani, Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken. In this post I share how to make the best tasting authentic Chicken Korma, the easiest way.

About Korma

Korma originated in South Asia, & has its roots in the Mughal Cuisine. The English term Korma is derived from the Urdu word “qorma” which means “To Braise”. So basically korma is a dish where meat is braised in fats like ghee, oil &/or yogurt.

Based on this braising technique, you will find zillion versions across the South Asian Countries, made with varying ingredients like spices, nuts, seeds, yogurt, coconut, and fried onion paste.

One ingredient you will never find in an authentic korma is Tomato! Yes! The essential tang in a korma comes from yogurt & tomatoes are never used.

The Authentic North Indian Mughlai Korma from the Awadhi Cuisine is essentially made with a nut and seed paste which contributes to the richness and creamy texture.

Traditionally a paste made with almonds and chironji seeds was used. In the later days cashews made way as a replacement to chironji. The other substitutes like poppy seeds and coconut are also used.

Broadly classified, there are 2 ways a korma is made in India.

  • North Indian Korma is made with yogurt, nuts, seeds & brown onion paste. Sometimes you will also see recipes made with boiled onion paste like this Navratan Korma.
  • South Indian Korma (known as Kurma) is made with coconut, seeds, sometimes nuts and no brown onion paste. Optionally yogurt is used.

My Chicken Korma Recipe

Chicken Korma is a traditional Mughlai dish where bone-in chicken is cooked with spices, onion paste, yogurt and nuts. My recipe is pretty straight forward and yields a creamy, rich and delicious dish that’s packed with layers & layers of authentic flavors.

I have tried to remain true to the authentic version, except for marinating the chicken (for better absorption of flavors & tender meat) and pan frying the onions instead of deep frying to make it healthier.

For a 100% authentic korma you may check this Mutton Korma.

Now comes the million dollar question:

Why is Chicken Marinated for Korma?

I have tested & retested chicken korma a lot of times without marinating and realized it makes a huge difference in terms of flavor and texture. Chicken unlike red meat, cooks faster and does not get enough time to soak up all the flavors while cooking.

I found the resulting dish was not as flavorful & succulent as the marinated chicken. This step also helps to get rid of the raw meat flavor quickly.

chicken korma recipe

More Indian Chicken Recipes
Chicken Tikka Masala
Rogan Josh
Chicken Vindaloo
Butter Chicken
Indian Chicken Curry
Chicken Masala

How to Make Chicken Korma (Stepwise photos)

Marinade

1. To a mixing bowl, add

  • ½ kg chicken (1.2 lbs)
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt (or coconut milk)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic (We usually rub the chicken with turmeric and then rinse off before cooking. Hence the yellow color here.)
adding yogurt ginger garlic to make chicken korma

2. Next add

  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder (or paprika)
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon salt
adding spice powders to marinate chicken for korma

3. Mix all of them and set aside until needed. You can also refrigerate this overnight.

marinating chicken for korma

Make Korma Sauce/ Gravy

4. While the chicken marinates, go ahead with the recipe. Heat 1½ tablespoon oil or ghee in a pan. Add 2 to 3 cardamoms. I used a bit more here as we like the flavor.

sauteing spices to make chicken korma

5. Add 1 cup sliced onions (2 medium onions). Saute them stirring often until golden brown & caramelized.

adding onions to make chicken korma

6. This is how the onions look – golden brown & caramelized. Turn off the stove. Add 4 almonds and 6 cashews. Cool this completely.

frying nuts to make chicken korma

7. Add the onions and nuts to a grinder or blender jar. Pour ¼ cup yogurt or coconut milk.

adding yogurt to make paste for chicken korma

8. Blend to a smooth puree. If you do not have a powerful blender, then you may pour half cup water and blend. (remember to skip adding water later for the gravy)

making fine onion paste for chicken korma

Make Chicken Korma

9. Pour 1 to 2 tablespoon oil to the same pan and spread the oil. Add the following whole spices: (skip if you don’t have)

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 cardamom
  • 2 inch cinnamon. I used Ceylon cinnamon so used more. If you are using cassia, just use a 2 inch thin strip. Saute the spices for a min.
adding spices to make chicken korma

10. Add marinated chicken and slit green chilli (optional).

frying chicken to make korma

11. Saute on a medium heat until the raw smell of ginger garlic goes away. This takes about 5 to 7 mins.

frying chicken marinade to make korma

12. Add the onion paste. Pour ½ cup hot water.

adding onion paste & water to make chicken korma

13. Add ¼ teaspoon salt.

adding salt to make chicken korma

14. Add ½ to ¾ teaspoon garam masala and 1½ teaspoon coriander powder. You can also add little chili powder if you prefer red color korma.

adding spice powders to make chicken korma

15. Mix well. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat. Cover and cook on a medium heat until the chicken turns tender and is soft cooked.

simmer chicken korma on a low flame

16. You will see traces of oil over the korma when it is done. Taste test and add more salt if needed. Once done, if the korma is too thick, add some hot water to bring it to consistency. Sprinkle some coriander leaves.

garnish with coriander leaves

Serve chicken korma with rice, jeera rice, roti, naan or paratha.

chicken korma recipe

Ingredients & Substitutes

Onions: Traditionally onions are deep fried until deep golden to light brown. These crispy onions are later crushed to a coarse powder and then simmered along with the other ingredients after the meat has been partially cooked.

You may make the pan fried brown onions like I have shown in this post or follow this fried onion recipe post to make deep fried crispy onions. Deep fried onions impart a much deeper flavor and a slightly coarse texture to the chicken korma.

Alternately you may also use your favorite brand of store bought fried onions.

Nuts: You can use only almonds or only cashews or a mix of both. Alternately you may use almond meal/ flour for convenience. To make the dish nut-free, you may use thick coconut milk.

Yogurt/ Curd: This recipe uses yogurt in the marinade and also in the korma. You can use store bought or homemade yogurt but make sure you don’t use very sour yogurt as it can ruin the dish. To make this dish dairy free, you may use thick coconut milk.

Spices: A traditional Korma uses a long list of ground and whole spices like bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamoms, cloves, nutmeg, mace, coriander, black cardamoms and black pepper. However I have reduced them to the minimum making sure to retain the best flavours.

Chicken: Usually korma is made with bone-in meat as it makes the best and flavorful dish. I use whole chicken that’s pre-cut (known as curry cut). You can also use boneless chicken or chicken thighs. Avoid using breasts as they can easily dry out if overcooked.

Kewda or Rose Water: Kewda or rose water are artificial flavoring ingredients used in a lot of Korma recipes before finishing. These impart a floral scent (perfume) to the dish. At home, we personally don’t prefer. But if you have, you may use a few drops.

Pro Tips

  1. Bone-in chicken tastes best in this recipe as the juices from the bones seep to the korma and make the gravy delicious.
  2. Marinating the chicken is optional. It is just done to tenderize the meat. If you prefer to skip the step, add all of the marinade ingredients together to the pan along with chicken.
  3. A korma curry gets its creamy texture from yogurt and nut paste. Traditional korma recipe does not use any kind of starch to thicken the curry.
  4. The aroma comes from the fried onion paste, take care to fry the onions evenly.
  5. If you have a nut allergy just skip the nuts in the recipe and add more yogurt or use coconut milk.

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

chicken korma recipe

Chicken Korma Recipe

5 from 572 votes
Delicious creamy chicken korma made made with yogurt, nuts, spices and onions as the base. This is best served with Jeera Rice, plain Basmati rice, Butter Naan, Plain Paratha or roti.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time50 minutes
Servings4
AuthorSwasthi

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

Marinade

  • ½ kg (1.2 lbs) chicken (bone-in)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons curd ( plain yogurt or coconut milk)
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste (ground or crushed in equal quantities)
  • ¾ to 1 teaspoon garam masala or korma masala
  • 1 to 1¼ tsp Kashmiri red chili powder (less spicy variety, minimum ½ tsp)
  • ½ teaspoon salt

To saute & blend

  • tablespoon oil or ghee
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 1 cup onions sliced (2 medium)
  • 6 cashews
  • 4 almonds (or substitute with cashews)
  • ¼ cup curd (plain yogurt or coconut milk)

For chicken korma gravy

  • 1 to 2 tablespoon oil or ghee
  • 1 small bay leaf (optional)
  • 4 cloves (optional)
  • 2 inch cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 cardamom (optional)
  • 1 to 2 green chilies slit or chopped (optional, Thai/Indian or serrano peppers)
  • ½ cup hot water (more if needed)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoon garam masala
  • teaspoon coriander powder (ground coriander)
  • ¼ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder (optional, for color)
  • 3 tablespoons coriander leaves (cilantro) chopped


Instructions

Marinade

  • To a mixing bowl, add chicken, yogurt, ginger garlic paste, turmeric, salt, red chili powder and garam masala. 
    ½ kg (1.2 lbs) chicken, ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric, 3 tablespoons curd, 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste, 1 to 1¼ tsp Kashmiri red chili powder, ½ teaspoon salt
  • Mix all of them well. Cover and set aside until needed.

Make Korma Paste

  • Heat a pan with oil and add 2 cardamoms.
    1½ tablespoon oil or ghee
  • Add sliced onions and fry them evenly until golden brown. Next add cashews and almonds. Cool these completely. 
  • Later add the cooled onions and nuts to a blender jar along with yogurt. Blend these to a smooth puree. You may add a splash of water to help blend it if you want. Set this aside.

How to Make Chicken Korma

  • To the same pan, add oil and heat it.
    1 to 2 tablespoon oil or ghee
  • Optional – Saute whole spices – bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves and cardamom in oil for a min.
  • Add green chilli and marinated chicken. Saute on a medium heat until the raw smell of ginger garlic paste goes away. This takes about 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Then add the onion nut puree. Pour hot water and mix well.
    ½ cup hot water
  • Add salt, coriander powder and garam masala. If required you can also add more chili powder for color.
  • Mix well & raise the heat to bring to a boil. Reduce the heat. Cover and cook on a low flame until chicken is cooked to tender & you see traces of oil over the korma.
  • Cook further till the gravy reaches a desired consistency. If it is too thick then pour some hot water to bring it to consistency.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Serve chicken korma with Jeera rice, plain Basmati Rice, Butter Naan, roti or paratha.


Notes

You may skip the whole spices but they release a nice aroma when added to the hot oil.
The amount of water to use may vary as it depends on the age of the chicken used. Older chicken requires more water. So pour water just as needed.
If you do not have a powerful blender, you may blend the onions and onions with half cup water called in the recipe.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.

Video

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Chicken Korma Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 405 Calories from Fat 261
% Daily Value*
Fat 29g45%
Saturated Fat 6g38%
Cholesterol 98mg33%
Sodium 558mg24%
Potassium 398mg11%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 26g52%
Vitamin A 490IU10%
Vitamin C 6.4mg8%
Calcium 80mg8%
Iron 1.9mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Chicken Korma Recipe

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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5 stars
Very very tasty, absolutely delicious. Thanks for the recipe

5 stars
This turned out marvellous! One of my favourite dishes. Thanks for sharing this!!

5 stars
This turned out absolutely perfect! I love all the recipes on this site! Well done!

5 stars
Will the recipe still be flavorful and work ok if the onion paste is made ahead (in the morning) to use with the marinated chicken in the evening?

Looks amazing! Quick question, do you blend the cardamoms used while cooking the onions into the onion/nut paste or do you remove them first?

5 stars
I just made this for the first time. It is very good and easy to substitute the dairy out thanks to the notes. I needed to add much more seasoning to my pot and I fried the chicken in a separate pan in order to brown it as it said. . The house smells amazing and I can’t wait for supper!

Should the cashews be raw or roasted unsalted?

Thanks, Javier

5 stars
The flavor is so good! I love all the spices. I want to make this again because my sauce turned out too thin and not creamy. The problem was my mini food processor wasn’t powerful enough to purée the onions and nut mixture. So I switched to my large food processor and there wasn’t enough mixture to purée without adding a lot more liquid. What is the blender that you use? It looks small and powerful.

OK, maybe a silly question, but it’s not stated or shown in pics: After you saute the whole spices in the oil, do you then discard them before adding the chicken?

5 stars
Hi, I just made this and it was so tasty!
It looks like you used red onions so I did too but my onion mix ended up purple so it cancelled out the yellow colour of the marinated chicken! I used 1/4 cup of yoghurt, was that enough or would a touch more have helped?
No matter the colour of it, it was absolutely delicious anyway!

Thanks so much for getting back to me 🙂

I’ll try using the smaller ones next time and see how I go. I’m going to try using coconut milk next time too.

Will definitely be making again and again because it tasted fantastic so I’m sure it’ll only get better!

By the looks of them, I thin Swasthi means shallots–perhaps she can confirm.

If I wanted to make this with leg of lamb (which I have never cooked before) would the marinade, &/or marinade time change? Could I cook the lamb separately in the slow cooker?

5 stars
Amazing!!

5 stars
Undoubtedly, the most easiest and tastiest restaurant style korma … tried and tasted ????!
Thanks for sharing the recipe.

5 stars
I made this last night and used cubed chicken breast and cut down the cook time. This is better than any restaurant in town! Will definitely be making again. Thank you!

5 stars
I made this today and it was delicious. I served it with plain basmati rice. Thank you so much maam for all the instructions to make it super easy and quick.

5 stars
The pictures and clear instructions were very helpful. I made this today for the first time and it was delicious. I will try to use coconut milk next time and play around with the levels of spice, thank you for the clear instructions and lots of notes about optional items.

5 stars
Delicious dish! Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture to show but the taste didn’t disappoint! Will make again!

Hey, in your recipe you say you can use the fried onions in place of the cooked onions. Is it still 2 cups of fried onions?

5 stars
Great instructions and pictures. Love this recipe! Thank you for making it straightforward and appropriately detailed with acceptable exchanges.

5 stars
Could this be cooked in a slow cooker?

5 stars
This is a wonderful easy recipe as are all your recipes giving step by step instructions!
I followed the recipe and added more water while cooking as I used Greek yogurt. I also prefer to fry the coriander powder and Garam masala with chicken pieces . Enjoyed it with my husband.