Chicken korma is a popular and flavorful Indian dish that originated from the Mughlai cuisine. It is known for its rich, creamy, and aromatic sauce that is made with a blend of spices, yogurt, cream, and nuts. Chicken pieces are typically marinated in yogurt and spices, then cooked in a creamy sauce until tender and flavorful. Chicken korma is often garnished with fried onions, nuts, and fresh cilantro, which adds to its visual appeal and taste.
Authentic chicken korma curry is known for its indulgent flavor profile, with a perfect balance of creaminess and spices that create a truly satisfying and aromatic experience. Chicken qorma is typically served with Basmati rice or naan bread, and it is enjoyed by many on special occasions or as a celebratory dish.
Korma chicken is loved for its delicate balance of flavors, combining the richness of cream and yogurt with the warmth of aromatic spices, creating a truly indulgent and delicious dish. It is one of the favorite Indian recipes and has gained popularity worldwide as a go-to choice for those who appreciate flavorful and creamy dishes.
Why you will love this recipe?
- Creamy and luscious sauce: The sauce is a highlight of chicken korma curry, and I am covering all the tips and tricks you need to create a creamy and indulgent korma sauce. Balancing the richness and flavors of the sauce can be a key pressure point.
- Tips on properly frying onions: Frying onions to the right level of golden brown is a critical step in making the best chicken korma. In my post, I have included detailed steps to do this along with how to check if they are done.
- Authentic taste: With its balanced sweetness, warmth, and tanginess, this chicken korma recipe delivers an authentic flavor that is sure to impress.
Chicken: Use boneless skinless chicken thigh pieces.
Onions, ginger, and garlic: Red or pink onions must be used to make korma. I have used ginger garlic paste; however, you can use grated fresh ginger and minced garlic.
Spices: The whole spices used are cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, green cardamom, cloves, and black peppercorn. The ground spices used are ground coriander, ground cumin, turmeric, chili powder, and garam masala powder.
Cashew: This adds richness to the korma sauce.
Yogurt and heavy cream: Yogurt is added when cooking the korma sauce. Heavy cream is optional and added as a finishing touch. I have used plain full-fat yogurt but Greek yogurt can also be used.
Step 1: In a large bowl, take yogurt, ginger garlic paste, ground turmeric, red chili powder, and garam masala. Mix well (image 1).
Step 2: Cut the boneless chicken thigh into bite-sized pieces and add it to the yogurt mixture. Combine well making sure all the chicken pieces are well coated. Cover and let it marinate for 20-30 minutes, while you make the korma curry (images 2 and 3).
Step 3: Take cashews in a small bowl and soak them in some water before you begin frying the onions.
Step 4: Place a heavy bottom pan or large skillet over medium heat and add the ghee. Once the ghee heats, add the onions (image 5).
Step 5: Add the onions and fry them until the onions are golden brown. This may take around 15-20 minutes (images 6 and 7).
Step 6: Turn off the heat and let the pot cool down slightly (image 8).
Step 7: Set aside around one tablespoon of fried onions for garnish. Transfer the remaining fried onions to a blender along with soaked cashew and yogurt. Blend into a smooth paste to make homemade korma paste (images 9 and 10).
Step 8: Next, in the same pot, add the whole spices to the ghee (cumin seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and black pepper). Saute for a few seconds (image 11).
Step 9: Add the marinated chicken (image 12). Fry on medium heat for 5 minutes (images 13 and 14).
Step 10: Add the fried onion paste along with the powdered spices -ground coriander, ground cumin, red chili powder, and ground turmeric. Add ½ cup water, Mix well, and bring it to a boil (images 15 and 16).
Step 11: Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked (image 17).
Step 12: Once the chicken is cooked, add garam masala. Increase the heat and let it cook for 2-3 minutes to help the sauce thicken (image 18).
Top with fried onion, cilantro, and almond flakes. Serve hearty authentic chicken korma warm with rice or naan bread.
How to fry onions perfectly?
Frying onions to perfection involves a few key steps. This is an important step not only in this chicken korma recipe but also in many meat and chicken recipes. Here is how to fry onions:
- Use onions that are fresh and have a high moisture content, such as yellow onions or red onions.
- To ensure even frying, slice or chop the onions uniformly. You can use a food processor for this.
- Heat a generous amount of oil or ghee in a heavy-bottom pan over medium heat. The oil should be hot but not smoking.
- Test if the oil is hot enough before adding the onions. To do that, drop a slice of onion into the oil. If it sizzles and starts to brown around the edges immediately, the oil is ready for frying.
- Carefully add the sliced or chopped onions to the hot oil, spreading them out evenly.
- Stir the onions frequently to ensure even cooking and prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Continue cooking the onions over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until they turn a deep golden brown color. The cooking time depends on the quantity of onions and also the amount of heat. Two large onions can take up to 15-20 minutes.
- Once the onions are evenly golden brown, use a slotted spoon or a spatula to carefully remove them from the hot oil and transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb excess oil.
Here is how you can check if the onions are perfectly cooked:
- Color: Fried onions should have a deep golden brown color with a hint of caramelization. They should not be pale or translucent.
- Texture: Fried onions should be crispy with a slight crunchy. If the onions are still soft, they may need further cooking.
- Aroma: Fried onions should have a sweet, aromatic smell. The aroma should be pleasant and not burnt.
Fry the onions: Frying onions until golden brown and caramelized before making the chicken korma sauce adds a rich and sweet flavor to the dish. You can either finely chop or slice the onions, and fry them in oil or ghee until they are golden brown before proceeding with the recipe.
Do not rush frying onions: It is the most time-consuming part of making the korma but absolutely worth it. Alternatively, to save time, use store-bought fried onions. For this recipe, you will need 1 cup of pre-fried onions.
Use nuts for creaminess: Ground cashews used in korma paste add creaminess and thickness. Soaking the nuts in water before grinding them can help in achieving a smoother texture. You can also use blanched almonds along with cashews in this recipe.
Make a smooth sauce: For a creamy and luxurious texture, it is important to grind fried onions and cashews until smooth. This helps to incorporate all the flavors and gives the sauce a velvety consistency.
Use whole spices: A traditional korma needs whole spices to build the flavor profile. I have kept them at a minimum and highly recommend not skipping the ones this recipe calls for. Several other additional Indian spices like mace, black cardamom, etc. can also be used. Also, it is important to note that an authentic korma sauce does not use curry powder.
Garnish for added flavor: I like to set aside around one tablespoon of fried onions and use it for garnish along with cilantro and nuts. This adds an extra layer of flavor and aroma to the korma.
Use kewra water or rose water: Mughlai dishes, like chicken korma, often use kewra water or rose water as a finishing touch. I have not used it in my recipe as we personally do not prefer it. If you like, you can add ¼ teaspoon of kewra water or rose water along with other garnish.
Do not use any thickening agent: An authentic korma curry does not use any kind of starch or thickening agent. The creaminess of the curry comes from the use of nuts, yogurt, and heavy cream.
Storage: Chicken korma can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. It also freezes well and can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Make sure the korma is cooled completely before storing. To reheat, place the korma along with a little water in a saucepan and simmer over medium heat. The korma sauce tends to thicken in the refrigerator or freezer and adding water will bring it to the right consistency.
Pro-tip: Frying the onions until they are golden brown is the key to making the most delicious korma. This step cannot be rushed. If you are running out of time, you can also use store-bought fried onions as a replacement.
Does korma sauce have tomatoes in it?
An authentic korma curry sauce does not use tomatoes. The slight tang that you taste in korma comes from the use of yogurt. Tomatoes release a lot of water resulting in a thin and runny sauce. The use of yogurt along with nuts gives korma its signature creamy texture and consistency.
However, if you are keen on using tomatoes, use a small amount of tomato paste. Check out my easy vegetable korma recipe where I am using tomatoes and coconut milk. Also, check out this recipe to make easy vegetarian shahi korma made with paneer.
More chicken recipes
The main difference between butter chicken and chicken korma is in the flavors and ingredients used in the curry sauce. Butter chicken has a tangy tomato-based sauce with a rich and slightly sweet flavor due to the use of sugar, butter, and cream. Chicken korma, on the other hand, has a creamy sauce made with fried onions, nuts, and cream, which gives it a rich and mildly-spiced flavor.
An authentic korma sauce does not have tomatoes in it. Tomatoes release a lot of water resulting in a thin and runny sauce. The use of yogurt along with nuts gives korma its signature creamy texture and consistency.
Yes, store-bought fried onions can work for this recipe. Just skip the step of frying the onions and use pre-fried onions.
Frying the onions before grinding them with yogurt and nuts is a traditional method used in korma recipes to create a flavorful base for the sauce. Frying the onions until they are golden brown brings out their natural sweetness and adds depth to the sauce. When combined with yogurt and nuts to create a smooth paste, it adds richness and creaminess to the korma sauce. Following the steps I mentioned above to fry the onions properly can indeed enhance the flavor of the korma curry.
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The BEST Chicken Korma
For the marination:
- 2 lb chicken thigh cut into small pieces
- ½ cup yogurt
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- ¼ cup ghee or oil
- 2 medium onion thinly sliced
- ¼ cup cashews
- ½ cup yogurt
For the korma curry sauce:
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1-2 bay leaves
- 2 cardamom pods
- 5 cloves
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 inch cinnamon stick
- 2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon red chili powder adjust as per taste
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon salt adjust as per taste
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 2 tablespoon cilantro
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon almond flakes
Marinate the chicken:
- In a large bowl, take yogurt, ginger garlic paste, ground turmeric, red chili powder, and garam masala. Mix well.
- Add the chicken pieces and mix well making sure all the chicken pieces are well coated.
- Cover and let it marinate for 20-30 minutes, while you make the korma curry.
Make the korma paste:
- Take cashews in a small bowl and soak them in some water while you fry the onions.
- In a heavy bottom pan or Dutch oven, heat the ghee.
- Add the onions and fry them until the onions are golden brown. This may take around 15 minutes.
- Let the onions cool down slightly.
- Set aside around one tablespoon of fried onions for garnish. Transfer the remaining fried onions to a blender along with soaked cashew and yogurt. Blend into a smooth paste.
Make the korma curry:
- Next, in the same pot or Dutch oven, add the whole spices to the ghee (cumin seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and black pepper). Saute for a few seconds.
- Add the marinated chicken and saute on medium heat for 5 minutes or until the raw smell of the ginger garlic paste goes.
- Add the fried onion paste along with the powdered spices (ground coriander, ground cumin, red chili powder, and ground turmeric).
- Add ½ cup water, Mix well, and bring it to a boil.
- Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the chicken is fully cooked.
- Once the chicken is cooked, add garam masala. Increase the heat to help the sauce thicken.
- Top with cilantro and almond flakes. Serve warm with rice or naan bread.
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