Delicious and authentic chicken korma is a flavorful dish that features tender chicken cooked in a rich and creamy sauce infused with aromatic spices. Also called chicken qorma, it is typically served with Basmati rice or naan bread.
It is enjoyed by many on special occasions or as a celebratory dish. Try this recipe for a comforting and flavorful meal that will impress your family and friends.
Why you will love this recipe?
- Creamy and luscious sauce: The sauce is a highlight of chicken korma, and I am covering all the tips and tricks you need to create a creamy and indulgent korma sauce.
- Authentic taste: With its balanced sweetness, warmth, and tanginess, this 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.
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.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
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 (image 4).
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 15-20 minutes (images 6 and 7).
Step 6: Turn off the heat and let the pot cool slightly (image 8).
Step 7: Set aside around one tablespoon of fried onions for garnish. Transfer the remaining fried onions to a blender with soaked cashews and yogurt. Blend into a smooth 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 before serving.
Ground cashews used in the paste add creaminess and thickness. Soaking the nuts in water before grinding them can help in achieving a smoother texture. Sometimes, I also use blanched almonds along with cashews in this recipe.
A traditional korma needs whole spices to build the flavor profile. I have kept them at a minimum and 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.
Mughlai dishes 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 does not use any starch or thickening agent. The creaminess of the curry comes from the use of nuts, yogurt, and heavy cream.
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.
What to serve with chicken korma?
Naan: Soft and pillowy Indian naan bread is an excellent choice to scoop up the creamy korma.
Pulao: A fragrant rice pulao, such as vegetable pulao or vegetable biryani, can be an excellent dish that complements the flavors of chicken korma.
The main difference between these two dishes 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.
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.
Yes, store-bought fried onions can work for this recipe. Just skip the step of frying the onions and use pre-fried onions.
To fry onions to perfection, start with fresh, moisture-rich onions like yellow or red onions, and chop them uniformly. Heat oil or ghee in a heavy-bottom pan over medium heat. Test the oil's readiness by dropping a slice of onion; when it sizzles and browns, add the onions. Stir frequently, cooking them until they turn deep golden brown, typically 15-20 minutes for two large onions. Remove and drain on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
An authentic korma (or quorma) 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.
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The Best Chicken Korma
For the marination:
For the curry:
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 it and let it marinate for 20-30 minutes while you make the korma.
Make the masala 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. Turn off the heat and top with cilantro and almond flakes.