Chicken Korma

DinnerIndianChicken

This sped-up version of chicken korma saves time without sacrificing flavor! Boneless chicken thighs are gently simmered in a rich, creamy sauce to create layers of sweet and spicy flavors.

Photography Credit: Prerna Singh

I did not grow up on chicken korma.

Growing up in a traditional Indian home, chicken was served maybe a couple times a week. Although those meals would be a treat, chicken curry was mainly what my mom cooked.

Kormas are for very, very special occasions, like weddings or grand parties, and rightfully so! They are so rich and luxurious. Pieces of chicken are gently simmered in a rich, creamy sauce with layers of sweet and spicy flavors. This dish is what dreams are made of!

Easy Chicken Korma Recipe - bowl of chicken with sauce, herbs and almonds

WHAT IS KORMA?

Korma is prepared by marinating and then braising a meat in a yogurt or cream base. The dish is traditionally cooked on low heat for around an hour until the meat is tender and the sauce turns into a rich and creamy glaze.

When the Mughals came to India from Central Asia, they brought with them their own cuisine, including the slow braised, yogurt-based (or sometimes cream-based) dish, korma.

In India, being different from their native land in respect of climate, spices, and crops, the recipe evolved over time to include more spices like coriander and cumin. Some kormas also combine meat and vegetables like spinach and turnips.

With time the dish evolved, and various recipes came into being. Vegetarians make navratan korma where nav means nine and ratan means gems or jewels, referring to the nine varieties of vegetables used in the dish. Korma prepared in the southern part of India has coconut in it, given of the heavy use of coconut in South Indian cuisine.

Best Recipe for Chicken Korma - bowl of chicken korma with plate of Naan

HOW TO MAKE THIS KORMA RECIPE

I have shaped this recipe for chicken korma to make it more approachable without compromising authenticity or flavor.

Instead of slow cooking bone-in meat, I have used boneless chicken thighs, which make the cooking process fast enough to whip up the dish on a weeknight.

I have tried to use minimal spices, which are also easily accessible. This dish is not heavy on spices anyway, but it does rely on several flavor profiles. I prefer to use green cardamom pods over other varieties. You can use black cardamom, but it will change the flavors of the dish.

Like most Mughlai dishes, this one uses nuts, dried fruit, and spices in addition to cream. Fried onions give the Korma a slightly sweet flavor, yogurt adds acidity, spices give the dish a warmth, and nuts add richness.

The addition of unsweetened coconut (fresh or desiccated) came over time. Most South Indian kormas use it, probably a result of easy availability of coconut in a South Indian kitchen. You can find desiccated or freshly grated coconut at your local Indian store or on Amazon. But I’d suggest you simply omit the coconut if it is too difficult for you to find.

Easy Chicken Korma Recipe - - bowl of chicken with sauce, herbs and almonds

HOW TO MAKE THIS DISH AHEAD OF TIME

You can cook this dish in advance and refrigerate it for 2 to 3 days, or freeze for up to a month. Before serving, thaw the korma and then reheat it either on a stovetop until it’s warmed through, or in the microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, before serving.

WHAT TO SERVE WITH KORMA

Typically kormas are served with some kind of bread, probably because a korma doesn’t have enough sauce to be served with rice.

I serve mine with naan or lachcha paratha, but feel free to serve with some steamed basmati rice if your heart pleases.

LOVE INDIAN FOOD? TRY THESE RECIPES!

Chicken Korma Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 45 minutes
  • Marinade Chicken and Soak Almonds time: 2 hours
  • Yield: 4 servings

While this Indian dish is traditionally served with the whole spices (cloves and cinnamon) left in the pot, if you are concerned about guests biting into one, fish out and discard the cloves and the cinnamon prior to serving.

Ingredients

For the sauce:

  • 12-15 raw almonds
  • 2-3 green cardamom pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked peppercorn
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon shredded coconut (optional)
  • Silvered almonds and chopped cilantro (for garnish)

For the marinade:

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the onions:

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced, about 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Method

1 Make the almond paste: Soak the almonds in 1/2 cup water for approximately 2 hours. Peel the skins off. In a blender (I use Nutribullet) grind the almonds into a smooth paste. Feel free to add 1-2 tablespoons of additional water to help with a smooth grinding.

Easy Chicken Korma Recipe - almonds

2 Marinade the chicken: In a medium-sized mixing bowl combine yogurt, turmeric, ginger garlic paste, salt, and cayenne pepper. Using a spoon or a whisk, mix it all together. Add chicken to the marinade. Coat the chicken well with marinade. Cover with a plate and set aside in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

3 Fry the onions: Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Line a plate or sheet pan with paper towels and set this near the stove. Check to see if the oil is hot enough by dropping a strand of onion into the pot. If it sizzles then the oil is ready. Add the rest of the onions to the pot.

Cook for 7-10 minutes on medium-high heat while moving them around until the onions turn golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to take the onions out of the oil and spread into the paper-towel-lined plate or sheet pan lined to soak up the excess oil.

Set aside for later. You will use these onions to make a paste. Leave about 1 tablespoon of oil in the pot and discard the rest.

How to Make Chicken Korma - onions frying in pan How to Make Chicken Korma - fried onions

4 Start cooking the chicken: Add cardamom, peppercorn, cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaf to the pot with the oil and reduce the heat to medium. Gently stir. Add chicken, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-8 minutes, until the chicken turns opaque.

Authentic Chicken Korma Recipe - herbs blooming in oil

5 Make the onion paste: In a blender or food processor, add the fried onions and a couple of tablespoons of water. Pulse until it becomes a coarse paste.

Add the fried onion paste, salt, and coriander to the pot with the chicken. Mix everything together. Cover and let it simmer for 5-8 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.

Authentic Chicken Korma Recipe - onion paste Authentic Chicken Korma Recipe - chicken with sauce, onion paste in panAuthentic Chicken Korma Recipe - chicken with sauce

6 Finish the dish: Remove the lid, and add the yogurt, almond paste, and shredded coconut (if using). Stir well. Cook on medium-high heat (uncovered) for another 2-3 minutes, until the sauce turns creamy and oil starts to separate.

Garnish with almonds and cilantro. Serve with hot naan or lachcha paratha.

Indian Chicken Korma Recipe - chicken in sauce with yogurt Indian Chicken Korma Recipe - chicken in sauce

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Prerna Singh

Prerna leads the editorial, content and community growth at Indian Simmer, based out of San Francisco Bay Area. Her simple yet evocative writing coupled with mouthwatering photography and easy to follow recipes put Indian Simmer in the spotlight and won her two time nominations and a win of the prestigious Saveur Food Blog Awards.

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3 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. [email protected]

    Rather than buy the ginger garlic paste, how much fresh ginger and garlic would you use?

  2. Janet

    I thought Chicken Korma was cashew based? All I have ever had was with cashews am I crazy? Yours looks great but not fan of almonds! Could it be done with cashews?

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Best Recipe for Chicken Korma - bowl of chicken korma with plate of NaanChicken Korma