Chicken Korma 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.
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.
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.
More Indian Chicken Recipes
Chicken Tikka Masala
Indian Chicken Curry
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.)
2. Next add
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder (or paprika)
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ½ teaspoon salt
3. Mix all of them and set aside until needed. You can also refrigerate this overnight.
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.
5. Add 1 cup sliced onions (2 medium onions). Saute them stirring often until golden brown & caramelized.
6. This is how the onions look – golden brown & caramelized. Turn off the stove. Add 4 almonds and 6 cashews. Cool this completely.
7. Add the onions and nuts to a grinder or blender jar. Pour ¼ cup yogurt or coconut milk.
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)
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.
10. Add marinated chicken and slit green chilli (optional).
11. Saute on a medium heat until the raw smell of ginger garlic goes away. This takes about 5 to 7 mins.
12. Add the onion paste. Pour ½ cup hot water.
13. Add ¼ teaspoon salt.
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.
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.
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.
Serve chicken korma with rice, jeera rice, roti, naan or paratha.
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.
- Bone-in chicken tastes best in this recipe as the juices from the bones seep to the korma and make the gravy delicious.
- 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.
- 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.
- The aroma comes from the fried onion paste, take care to fry the onions evenly.
- If you have a nut allergy just skip the nuts in the recipe and add more yogurt or use coconut milk.
Chicken Korma Recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
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
- 1½ 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
- 1½ 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.
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)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
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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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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
Thank you for this amazing recipe. Used boneless chicken thighs & cut down the chili powder. Turned out delicious. Best korma I ever made!
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!
Thanks for trying Hamish. Glad to know the chicken korma turned out good. You need a powerful blender to get a smoother sauce. Yes you can always cut down the salt.
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?
if you double the chicken, you should double all the ingredients including yogurt. Did you use Kashmiri chili powder? My recipes are low on the heat quotient and usually are not that hot. If you prefer less heat leave out the green chili and reduce the red chilli too. Hope this helps. Thanks for trying the recipes.
Fantastic recipe! I doubled the recipe for my wife and two kids, and next time will triple the gravy.
Glad to know James. Thanks for trying and sharing back.
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.
So glad you like it Steffani. Love how you made it vegetarian. Thank you.
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…
The grey color could be due to the cookware. Some kinds of cookware leach aluminum into the food & discolor the dish, as they react with a sour ingredients like in this case yogurt. The other reason could be your garam masala or coriander. Something may be wrong. Lastly it could be the red onions. This has nothing to do with the recipe. Yes there is a limit to red chilli you can use and it can easily make the dish too spicy and alter the flavor. Hope this helps.
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. 🙂
Thanks for trying. Yes you can add a bit of sugar to balance the flavors. Actually the onion paste naturally tastes sweet. Hope this helps. Wishing you a speedy recovery.
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.
Happy to know Emily. Thank you so much for sharing back how it turned out.
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.
Happy to know your family likes it. Thank you so much Maureen.
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 🙂
I don’t know how to help you with that. Hope you read the intro of this post which says more about this recipe. For this recipe you just need half cup liquid to cook the korma. If that makes your dish runny, you may try cooking with only a few tablespoons. But I am sure that will burn the korma sauce.
Wow, amazing taste. I really enjoyed making this. I used Almond powder, didn’t have any Cashews, but it’s perfect. I’ve only made Korma using bought paste, your recipe is much better. Thanks
Glad to know Tim. Thank you so much!
Question: Can I used BLACK cardamom instead of the GREEN that is called for this your recipe?
I look forward to trying this later this week!
You can substitute 1 green cardamom mentioned as optional for tempering with black cardamom. Leave out the 2 more cardamoms mentioned under ” to saute & blend”. Both cardamoms have different flavor profiles so I don’t suggest blending them. Hope you enjoy the dish
Oh my goodness. I ended up buying the green cardamoms instead of using the black cardamom like in my original question comment. I followed the recipe EXACTLY and it was absolutely delicious! I went ahead and even tried your recipe for Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala and all were delicious. Even my picky 5 year old loves these foods. Thank you for helping to introduce Indian food to me and my family. We are making one of your recipes at least once a week now.
Great Amy! So glad you tried so many recipes. Thank you so much!
Hi! This is amazing – I’ve used chicken breast as some of the family don’t like chicken thighs and chicken on bones- but it still turned out soft, and delicious. I was wondering if this can be made in slow cooker – after toasting the spices and cooking the chicken can we transfer to slow cooker and add the rest? Perhaps on high for 2-3 hours? What do you suggest?
I have no experience with slow cooker so I am sorry I can’t comment on that. Glad the dish turned out delicious.
Best Chicken Korma so far that I had made it. Friends came over for lunch and asked me to make it again.
Glad to know! Thank you so much Diana
This recipe is absolutely delicious. I’ve made it many times, and it turns out very well every single time. I also find it quite fun to make, and I often make it on a weeknight.
Thank you Stephan
Glad you enjoy it!
Of all Indian dishes, chicken korma is my favorite. This recipe hits all the marks. Absolutely delicious and plan to make this again very soon. Thank you so much for sharing!
Glad you like it! Thank you so much!