chicken korma

Chicken Korma Recipe

By Swasthi on August 28, 2022, 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)


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

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 Time10 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time45 minutes

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )


  • 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)
  • 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



  • 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.


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.


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
A great recipe! The family loved it. Thanks for sharing.

5 stars
As always with your recipes, mine turned out to be perfect today. This is the 6th time I cooked this type of chicken dish. My grandchildren and whole family like this so much. I used chicken thighs without any bones this time and was great too. Thanks and God bless.

5 stars
WOW! I made this using the ingredients I had: several cubes of caramelized-onion paste that I keep on hand in the freezer, instead of making and blending my own caramelized onions; a dollop of almond butter instead of whole almonds; sour cream instead of yogurt. It was fabulous! I am definitely going to try it while following the recipe more precisely! My husband said “Please make that again!!” –so I definitely will! Thank you!

Can v add yogurt while marnating n coconut milk later?

5 stars
Delicious!!! Chicken Korma is my go-to when at Indian restaurants and this recipe is among some of the best Korma I’ve eaten. Thank you. We doubled all the recipe except the chicken (it was helped ensure we had enough flavor and sauce) and we recommend doing that for others. Also, we like our Korma with a little spice (not spicy, but some low-level heat to balance out the mild sauce) and we added 2-4 dried serrano chili peppers while cooking the sauce and chicken together.

5 stars
All my family loved this recipe. Only substitutes I made where smokey paprika as I couldn’t source the red Kashmiri chilli powder and I used chicken breast diced into large pieces (the chicken was still lovely and moist)

5 stars
Absolutely love this recipe. I made a couple of changes that really kicked it up to perfection for us.

1. Use a really sweet onion like Vidalia, and caramelize them to a deep brown. I used the fast caramelization method from America’s Test Kitchen, which can get a batch done in about 30 minutes. This adds a really satisfying depth to the flavor.
2. When heating up the spices before adding the chicken, use about half of each one. I got complaints of it tasting too much like pumpkin pie until I did this.
3. Double the gravy. This gives you plenty to mix in with your rice, like what you’d get from a takeout place.

5 stars
I think I needed to simmer it just a bit more, as the oil didn’t quite come to the surface, but it didn’t seem to matter. What an absolutely scrumptious gem of a dish. I look forward to cooking more of your recipes!

5 stars
Thank you for sharing this recipe, it was a big hit at my husbands office potluck lunch. I doubled the recipe and followed the steps. Served it with peas pulao. All loved it.

5 stars
Once again a great recipe, thank you so much. I’m obsessed with your site, love your authentic recipes and your detailed instructions, in my humble opinion it’s the best site for Indian cooking out there. Never disappointed. Greetings from Vienna!

5 stars
I doubled this recipe for a group. It came out great. Besides doubling the quantities, the one thing I changed was that I used more almonds and a dollop of cashew butter (I didn’t have any cashews). Everyone loved it.

5 stars
Thank you for this amazing recipe. Used boneless chicken thighs & cut down the chili powder. Turned out delicious. Best korma I ever made!

5 stars
I made this tonight. It was good, however I used creamed coconut instead of yoghurt and the sauce was not as smooth as Id have liked. Also it was a little salty. Next time i will give the creamed coconut a miss and cut back on the salt!

5 stars
Hi Swatthi, your recipes are really great, every one is a winner. Tried your Bombay Potatoes tonight and these were a big hit, I have a quick question regarding if I doubling the amount of chicken do I also double up the spices? I just made your Chicken Korma and its was really tasty however my son and wife said it was too hot, not sure if doubling up the spices may be the cause?

5 stars
Fantastic recipe! I doubled the recipe for my wife and two kids, and next time will triple the gravy.

5 stars
So so delicious! Almost exactly like what I order from my local restaurant. I subbed cauliflower instead of chicken, used coconut milk yoghurt, added pressed tofu near the end of cooking, and used coconut oil instead of ghee to make it vegan. I will definitely be making this regularly, it’s an absolute favorite.

4 stars
I have a problem with the colour. It looks exactly like the photos (golden brown) until I get to point 14. Adding garam masala and coriander (both have a dark colour) makes the end result gray. There is a limit how much red chili powder you can add…

5 stars
Our family, including 3 kids, loved this recipe. The whole house smells amazing. I didn’t have nuts and couldn’t go out to get them because we have COVID, so I used almond meal. The sauce seemed like it needed to be balanced with some sweetness- do you have a recommendation? I was tempted to add a handful of raisins / sultanas, but did not. It was on the salty side and everyone had seconds so I don’t know why I’m even bringing it up. It could also be the COVID impacting my taste buds, so who knows. It’s a do-over regardless! We tripled the recipe and will enjoy it again tomorrow. 🙂

5 stars
Made this for dinner last night for family – and enjoyed the leftover sauce for lunch with some roti (the chicken all disappeared last night haha). It was so delicious! It took a bit of prep time but was totally worth it! Thanks for sharing all these recipes.

5 stars
This was absolutely amazing! I didn’t have many of the whole spices, so I used a bit of ground instead to flavor the oil. My husband, who doesn’t like anything that’s not standard American fare, loved it, and my son told me to add it to the menu twice a week! Definitely a keeper, thank you so much for the detailed recipe.

5 stars
Hello! This turned out really well. But excuse me for sounding a bit ignorant here but I was expecting like a take away type korma but this turned out a bit different. I don’t think I got the flavours right, maybe? Mine was a lot more watery than I expected it to be (I used coconut milk, for some context) It was still absolutely beautiful and everyone enjoyed it, dipping the naan for seconds haha. But yes, is this more of an authentic korma? I hope I make sense 🙂 I will certainly be trying this again, even if it turns out the way I made it 🙂