Veg kurma recipe – Learn to make delicious South Indian style mix vegetable kurma that’s flavor-packed, amazingly delicious and easy to make. Serve with flavored rice, roti, poori, paratha or naan for a special meal. Korma, also known as kurma is an aromatic Indian gravy dish made with yogurt, nuts, seeds, spices, onions, coconut & a main ingredient like meat or vegetables.
Based on the region, the ingredients used to make a korma recipe are different. In North India it is called as korma and is made with yogurt, seeds, nuts & onion paste made from fried or boiled onions. In South India, it is called as kurma and is made with fresh coconut & seeds paste. Occasionally a small quantity of yogurt is used.
North Indian korma is aromatic, rich & creamy with a velvety texture as nuts & yogurt form the base. South Indian kurma is not creamy or rich but is light as coconut & seeds/nuts form the base.
However both are very fragrant and spiced for flavor but not for heat. So fragrant whole spices like cinnamon and cardamoms are always used as they release a great aroma while the dish is simmered.
Table of contents
About veg kurma
This South Indian Hotel style veg kurma is a one pot vegan dish that is super aromatic, tastes delicious & is easy to make. It needs easily available ingredients like mixed vegetables, spices, coconut, poppy seeds or cashews & herbs.
This hotel style dish is very popular & is loved by most people for its unique aroma & taste. Whether served at family meals or a way to honour guests this delicious dish is a part of every special South Indian meal.
It also pairs wonderfully well with naan, plain basmati rice, coconut rice, jeera rice or any other variety rice dishes.
The key ingredients to make a flavorful vegetable kurma are the tempering spices like bay leaf, star anise, cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon. These spices along with coconut paste bring in a wonderful aroma to the dish.
There are a few different versions of this South Indian kurma. In some regions it is made only with curd instead of coconut. I have shared that tip as well if you prefer to skip the coconut in this recipe.
Veg kurma is also made to go in a festive meals. So it can also be made without onion & garlic on such occasions.
Though this recipe uses mix vegetable like potatoes, peas, beans and carrots, it can also be made with just one kind of vegetable like potato, cauliflower or peas.
Veg kurma – step-by-step photos
1. Prepare vegetables – Chop the following:
- 2 medium onions (1 cup finely chopped)
- 2 medium tomatoes (¾ cup fine chopped)
- 1 medium carrot (¾ cup, half inch pieces)
- 2 medium potatoes (1 cup, half inch pieces)
- ¾ cup green peas
- 8 to 10 French beans (¾ cup, half inch pieces)
- ¾ to 1 cup cauliflower florets
2. Make kurma paste: To a grinder jar, add
- ¼ cup grated coconut (or ¼ cup coconut milk)
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (skip if you don’t like)
- 1 tablespoon roasted gram (optional)
- 12 cashew nuts (or 12 soaked almonds or 2 tbsps poppy seeds)
3. Pour 6 tablespoons water and make a fine paste. We don’t want a coarse paste.
How to make vegetable kurma
4. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pot. Add
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 green cardamoms
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds (jeera)
- 3 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon piece
- 1 star anise. You can also add a single strand of mace If you like the fragrance.
4. Next add 1 cup very finely chopped onions & 1 slit green chili (optional). Saute until the onions turn pink. The raw smell of the onions has to go away.
5. Add ¾ to 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste. My ginger garlic paste has turmeric in it, so the color. Saute for 1 to 2 mins, until the raw smell of the ginger garlic has gone away.
6. Then add ¾ cup chopped tomatoes and salt.
7. Fry until the tomatoes turn completely soft and mushy.
8. Add 1 teaspoon red chili powder, 1¼ teaspoon garam masala & few coriander leaves (optional).
9. On a medium to low flame, saute for 2 to 3 minutes until the masala begins to smell good. By now the mixture also begins to leave the sides.
10. Add the coconut cashew paste.
11. Mix and fry for 2 to 3 minutes until the coconut smells good.
12. Lower the flame, add chopped potatoes, beans, carrots, peas and cauliflower.
13. Mix everything well and saute for 2 to 3 minutes without burning.
14. Add water just enough to cover the veggies. I used 1.5 cups water. Add ¾ salt as well and stir.
15. Cook on a medium flame until the veggies are tender. Taste the veg kurma and add more salt if needed. Add coriander leaves and switch off.
Serve veg kurma with rice or chapati.
Instant pot vegetable korma
1. To a small grinder jar, add
- ¼ cup grated coconut
- 10 to 12 cashew nuts
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (skip if you don’t like)
- 1 tablespoon fried gram
- 6 tablespoons water or coconut milk. Blend to a smooth paste.
2. Press SAUTE button on your Instant pot and pour oil to the steel insert. Add the whole spices
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 star anise
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 green cardamoms
- 3 cloves
- 1 inch cinnamon
3. When the spices begin to sizzle add curry leaves. Saute for 30 seconds.
4. Next add 1 cup finely chopped onions and 1 slit green chili (optional).
5. Saute until the onions lose their raw smell, for about 3 mins. Next add ¾ to 1 tablespoon chopped ginger garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
6. Add ¾ cup chopped tomatoes and ¾ teaspoon salt. Saute for 1 minute.
7. Move the onions and tomatoes to one side of the pot. Add the diced potatoes to the other side.
8. Cover with an external lid and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. The cook time of potatoes and other vegetables in this korma is different. So we are precooking the potatoes first so the cook time of all the veggies match at the next step.
9. Saute all of these for 1 to 2 minutes. Add in all the spice powders
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 ¼ teaspoon garam masala
- Saute for 30 to 60 seconds.
10. Press CANCEL button and add the coconut paste. Mix well.
11. Add the rest of the veggies – ¾ cup beans, ¾ cup carrots, ¾ to 1 cup cauliflower and ¾ cup green peas.
12. Pour 1 ¾ cup water and deglaze the bottom by scrubbing with a spatula. This releases bits of food stuck there & avoids a burn.
Tip: If you are not using coconut paste then simply substitute water with 1¾ cups light coconut milk. If you do not have light coconut milk, use 1 cup regular coconut milk mixed with ¾ cup water.
13. Taste the water and add more salt if needed. Secure the Instant pot with the lid and position the steam release handle/ value to sealing. Press PRESSURE COOK button (high pressure) and set the timer to 1 minute. After the Instant pot beeps, wait for 1 minute. Then release the pressure manually by moving the steam release value from sealing to venting.
14. Give a gentle stir. Vegetable kurma will look runny at this stage but will thicken after it cools down a bit.
This is the consistency after cooling slightly.
Serve vegetable korma with plain basmati rice, dosa, pulao, poori.
Ingredients and substitutes
Vegetables – The veggies that go well in a mixed veg kurma are carrots, peas, beans, cauliflower & potatoes. You can skip any of these if you do not have. Alternately you can substitute any of the 5 mentioned veggies with the other.
Or use only one vegetable like potatoes. But the total quantity of veggies should be the same as mentioned in the recipe.
You can use any other vegetable like red pumpkin or white button mushrooms if you like the flavor & taste. But also note the taste of kurma depends on the veggies used.
Cashew nuts – Cashews can be replaced with poppy seeds or soaked almond seeds. Please note that blending poppy seeds to a fine paste is really hard if you don’t have a good grinder.
Coconut – Coconut is the main ingredient in this South Indian kurma. If you do not have fresh coconut, then simply use ¼ cup thick coconut milk to blend the cashews & fennel seeds.
If you do not have coconut milk as well, then simply use ½ cup regular yogurt (not Greek). Blend the cashews with little yogurt until smooth & then add the rest and blend.
Whole spices – Whole spices like bay leaf, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and cardamoms slowly release their aroma without overpowering the dish. Your dish won’t have the real flavors if you skip these.
All of these spices are very important to make a South Indian kurma. However you may skip if you personally don’t like the flavour of any of these. If you haven’t tried star anise any time, give it a try. It totally elevates the flavour of your veg korma.
Fennel seeds – You can skip if you don’t like. But it is one of the key ingredients in a hotel style kurma.
1. Kurma paste – Kurma paste is made of coconut, cashews, fried gram & poppy seeds. I do not use poppy seeds as they are banned here in Singapore. You can skip making the paste entirely & just use ½ cup curd or regular yogurt.
The taste does differ with curd & it tastes slightly tangy. I personally do not prefer to cook with curd so I have not done it here. But I have grown up eating this as it is a common ingredient used in many Telugu speaking homes.
2. Many households blend whole spices along with coconut. But I don’t. Using garam masala works out much better for me as it is easier to adjust the quantities easily.
3. Do not skip or alter the quantity of whole spices as they are the most key ingredients that flavor up the vegetable kurma.
This super aromatic and delicious vegetable korma is made with potatoes, peas, carrots, French beans, onions, tomatoes, coconut or yogurt, nuts and spices.
Yes both are same with slight variations. In South India it is called as kurma and is made with coconut as the base. In North India it is called as korma and is made with yogurt as the base.
A curry does not need ingredients like yogurt, nuts, seeds and fragrant whole spices. But a korma needs all of these ingredients. Yogurt, nuts and seeds form the base of a korma which is simmered with a good amount of fragrant whole spices.
Veg kurma recipe (vegetable korma)
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
make a paste
- ¼ cup fresh coconut or 2 tbsps poppy seeds or ¼ cup coconut milk
- 10 to 12 cashew nuts
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds (saunf or sombu or ½ tsp powder)
- 1 tablespoon roasted chana dal (fried gram, roasted gram) (optional)
- 6 tablespoons water or coconut milk
- 1 small bay leaf (tej patta)
- 1 star anise (chakri phool) (optional)
- 1 strand mace (javithri) (optional)
- ½ teaspoon cumin (jeera)
- 2 green cardamoms (elaichi)
- 3 cloves (laung)
- 1 inch cinnamon (dalchini)
- 2 tablespoon oil
- 1 cup onions finely chopped – 2 medium
- 1 green chilli optional
- ¾ to 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste or fine chopped
- ¾ cup tomatoes fine chopped – 2 medium sized
- ¾ to 1 teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup beans (8 to 10) chopped to ½ inch pieces
- ¾ cup carrot (1 medium) chopped to ½ inch pieces
- ¾ to 1 cup cauliflower (gobi florets)
- 1 cup potatoes (2 medium) chopped to ½ inch
- ¾ cup green peas or matar
- 1¾ cups water
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves for garnish
Spice powders for vegetable korma
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric or haldi
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder kashmiri or byadgi
- 1 ¼ teaspoon garam masala
- Fine chop onions & tomatoes. Slit chilli and set aside all of these. Cube the veggies to ½ inch sizes and set aside. Keep the potatoes immersed in a bowl of water until used.
- Make a fine paste of coconut, cashews, roasted chana dal & saunf with 6 tbsps water. If you do not like the flavor of fennel seeds you may skip it. Set aside the kurma paste.
- Heat a pot with oil. Then saute bay leaf, star anise, mace, jeera, cardamoms, cloves and cinnamon until they sizzle.
- Next put in the chopped onions and green chili. Fry until they turn transparent & pink in color.
- Fry ginger garlic paste until the raw smell goes off.
- Next saute tomatoes with salt until mushy and soft.
- Add turmeric, chilli powder, garam masala and coriander leaves. Saute well for 2 to 3 mins until the masala smells really good.
How to make veg kurma
- Transfer the coconut paste and saute for few minutes until the kurma masala smells good.
- Drain the water from potatoes and add them to the pot.
- Next add the other veggies and mix well. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes and then pour water just enough to cover the veggies. Adjust salt if needed.
- Cook until the veggies are cooked. Garnish with coriander leaves.
- Serve veg kurma with chapati, pulao or biryani.
Instant pot vegetable kurma
- Press SAUTE button and pour oil to the inner pot of Instant pot. Add all the whole spices and saute for 30 seconds.
- Next add onions and chili. saute for 3 mins.
- Add ginger garlic and saute for 30 seconds.
- Next add tomatoes and salt. Saute for 1 minute.
- Move the onions and tomatoes to one side. Add the potatoes to the other side.
- Cover with an external lid and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Saute all of these for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add in all the spice powder and saute for 30 to 60 seconds.
- Press CANCEL button and add the coconut paste.
- Add the rest of the veggies and mix well.
- Pour water and deglaze the bottom by scrubbing with a spatula. This releases bits of food stuck there & avoids a burn.
- Taste the water and add more salt if needed.
- Secure the Instant pot with the lid and position the steam release handle/ value to sealing.
- Press PRESSURE COOK button (high pressure) and set the timer to 1 minute.
- After the Instant pot beeps, wait for 1 minute. Then release the pressure manually by moving the steam release value from sealing to venting.
- Give a gentle stir. Vegetable korma will look runny at this stage but will thicken after it cools down a bit.
- Roasted chana dal is also known as fried gram or roasted gram. These are made from black chickpeas which are sand roasted and skinned. These are easily available in Indian stores.
- If using yogurt or curd, make sure you don’t use sour one. Use more spice powders to balance the tang in yogurt.
- Substitute fresh coconut with 2 tbsps of poppy seeds or 6 tbsps of thick coconut milk. If using coconut milk then skip water used for making the paste.
- It is important to keep the size of the potatoes and carrots to half inch.
- If you use larger pieces of the veggies about 1 inch then you will need to increase the cook time to 2 mins.
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
This post was first published in October 2015. Updated & republished in January 2021.