This Chicken Korma recipe is not just the best chicken korma I’ve ever had, but also the best curry recipe I’ve ever made, and my Indian husband agrees.
With cubes of succulent boneless chicken simmered in a nut and cream korma sauce infused with spices, prepare to fall in love. It easily rivals my wildly-popular Butter Chicken recipe. Best served with a batch of soft homemade butter naan. (But if you prefer seafood in korma sauce, try my delicious Shrimp Korma recipe. Or for a vegetarian option with similar vibes, try my Malai Kofta, Aloo Gobi or Butter Paneer recipe).
There’s just so much authentic flavor in this tested-till-perfect recipe for Chicken Korma curry. Let’s dive into this restaurant-quality dish!
What Does Chicken Korma Taste Like?
Indian chicken korma (also known as Chicken Kurma or Shahi Korma) tastes rich and nutty with earthy spices and warmth from ginger and chillies. It isn’t traditionally a very spicy curry, but a rather mild one with a rich sauce and tender cubes of boneless chicken.
It tastes similar to Butter Chicken, but less tomato-y, thicker and more complex, thanks to the nuts and yogurt.
Why You’ll Love It
Chicken Korma is a classic dish, but this particular recipe is something special. Here are a few reasons why you’ll love it:
- Creamy and Spicy: This recipe strikes the perfect balance between creaminess and spiciness. The sauce is rich and decadent, while the spices add a delicious nip of heat.
- Easy to Make: Although it’s packed with flavor, this recipe is actually quite easy to make. It only takes about 10 minutes of hands-on effort to prepare.
Gather Your Ingredients to Make the BEST Chicken Korma Ever!
- Onion: cooked low and slow, the onions add sweetness to the sauce and dissolve right in.
- Several cloves garlic and fresh ginger (or swap in ginger garlic paste).
- Chillies: green chillies are traditional, but you can use red thai bird chillies if that’s what you can find.
- Korma spices: this includes a handful of ground and whole spices – garam masala, ground coriander, cinnamon, red chili powder (like Kashmiri chili powder or cayenne), ground cinnamon, and whole green or black cardamom pods. You could also add a teaspoon of ground cumin, a bit of black pepper, and/or a few whole cloves.
- Tomato: I like to use canned tomato puree but feel free to use 1 whole fresh juicy tomato if they’re in season
- Chicken: I prefer boneless chicken for this recipe since it is already rich and doesn’t need the added richness of chicken with bones. If you’ve only got bone-in chicken on hand, though, feel free to use it!
- Nuts: to make things easy (and extra creamy), I use almond butter. You could substitute whole cashew nuts and finely chop them.
- Yogurt: plain yogurt, any kind is fine.
- Cream: this calls for whipping cream (or 35% fat), but you can use coconut milk instead if you like. Just don’t use milk or half-and-half because it may curdle.
Note that there’s no need to buy a specific korma curry paste. Using a few fresh aromatics and basic pantry spices, you’ll get way more flavor without buying an extra jar.
Grab These Tools
To make this Chicken Korma recipe, you’ll need a few essential tools to help you get the job done right. Here are some tools you’ll want to have on hand before you start cooking:
- Large saucepan: You’ll need a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven to cook the onions and spices to ensure even heat distribution and prevent burning.
- Cutting Board and Knife: A sturdy cutting board and sharp knife are essential for chopping onions, garlic, ginger, and chicken.
- Measuring Tools: Consistency is key when it comes to cooking, so you’ll want to have measuring spoons and cups to ensure accurate measurements of the spices.
- Immersion Blender: An immersion blender is a great tool to have to help blend the almonds into the sauce and create a smooth and creamy texture.
- Wooden Spoon: A wooden spoon is essential for stirring and scraping the pot as you cook the dish.
How to Make Incredible Chicken Korma: Step-by-Step Directions
This Chicken Korma recipe is easy to make and packed with flavorful spices and ingredients. Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to create this wildly delicious dish:
Make the Korma masala first:
The word masala refers to a spice mixture but also refers to the “wet” masala, the mixture that forms base of the sauce or gravy in an Indian curry recipe. To make the masala for this chicken korma curry:
- Cook the Onions: Heat ghee or oil over medium heat and cook onions with salt until very soft and deep golden brown. This step is important to develop the base of the flavor of the dish.
- Add the Aromatics: Add garlic, ginger, and chillies and cook until fragrant. These ingredients add layers of heat and flavor to the dish.
- Spice it Up: Stir in garam masala, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon, and smashed cardamom pods and cook for another minute to toast the spices and bring out their flavors.
- Add the Tomato Puree: Add tomato puree, almond butter, and water, plus some salt and cook until the oil starts to bubble up and shimmer on top. This step helps create the rich sauce that coats the chicken.
Now Cook the Chicken in the Masala
Add the chicken and simmer until cooked through. The chicken takes on the flavors of the sauce as it cooks, making it tender and delicious.
Finish the Curry
- Add the Yogurt and Cream: Stir in the yogurt and cream, which helps balance out the heat and add a rich creaminess to the dish.
- Garnish and Serve: Serve the korma with your desired side dishes, garnish with cilantro, and enjoy your homemade Chicken Korma.
Korma sauce is made of onions, garlic, ginger, chillies, and spices (like many other curries), but what makes korma special is the addition of yogurt, cream, and nuts.
The difference between chicken tikka and chicken korma is that in chicken tikka, the chicken is pre-marinated and cooked in a clay oven before being simmered in a sauce. Chicken korma has a richer sauce with the addition of nuts and yogurt.
Korma is different from other curry recipes in a few key ways:
Ingredients: Korma typically has a creamier sauce that is made with ingredients such as heavy cream, yogurt, or nut butters, while curry usually has a thinner sauce made with tomatoes, onions, and spices. Korma also often includes nuts and dried fruit for added texture and flavor.
Spices: While both dishes use similar spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric, korma often includes additional warm spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Other curry recipes tend to be spicier and more heavily seasoned with cayenne pepper, ginger, and curry powder.
Heat: Korma is generally milder and less spicy than curry, which can be quite hot and spicy depending on the recipe.
Meat and Vegetables: Both korma and curry can be made with a variety of meats, vegetables, and legumes, but different versions of the dishes tend to feature different ingredients. For example, chicken korma and lamb korma are popular meat-based korma dishes, while chicken curry and chickpea curry are common curry dishes.
How to Serve it
This Chicken Korma recipe is creamy, spicy, and so full of flavor, it deserves to be served in style. Here are some fun and creative ways to enjoy your Indian curry.
- Shahi Korma style: Traditionally, Shahi Korma is topped with finely chopped nuts, such as almonds, cashews, or pistachios, which not only add a delicious crunch but also complement the creamy and rich texture of the dish. Toast some nuts and sprinkle them on top before serving to add an extra layer of flavor and texture to the dish.
- Naan: Serve with soft homemade butter naan or aloo naan to mop up all the delicious sauce and add some texture to each bite. Or go for these soft chapathi if you prefer.
- Rice: Scoop the korma onto a bed of fluffy basmati rice to balance out the heat and add some subtle sweetness. Use my Indian mother-in-law’s instagram-viral rice cooking method.
- Yogurt Salad: Cool off with some Indian Cucumber Salad on the side. The yogurt balances the heat and adds an extra element of freshness and creaminess to the dish.
This Chicken Korma recipe is versatile and adaptable, allowing you to personalize the dish to your taste or dietary needs. Here are some variations to consider:
- Vegetarian Korma: Substitute chicken with your favorite vegetables like cauliflower, sweet potato, or chickpeas to make a flavorful and hearty vegetarian korma.
- Low-Fat Korma: Replace the heavy cream with coconut milk and reduce the almond butter to 2 tablespoons for a lower-fat version that is still tasty.
- Spicier Korma: Add more chili peppers or cayenne pepper for an extra kick of heat.
- Milder Korma: Reduce the amount of chili peppers or cayenne pepper for a milder version that is more kid-friendly.
Make-Ahead and Storage Tips
Chicken Korma is a dish that tastes just as delicious the next day, making it perfect for meal prep or leftovers. Here are some tips to help you make the most of this recipe:
- Make-Ahead: The entire recipe can be made a day or two in advance and stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Honestly, like with many Indian curries, the flavors develop and get even better with time.
- Storage: Store the chicken korma in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days.
- Freeze it: The curry can also be frozen for up to three months. Allow it to cool completely and freeze in an airtight container until ready to use. When you’re ready to serve, thaw in the fridge or in the microwave on medium power.
- Reheating: When you’re ready to serve, gently reheat on the stove on low until thoroughly heated through (the chicken should reach 165ºF). You can also use the microwave for a quick and easy reheating option.
Chicken Korma Recipe
- ¼ cup ghee or vegetable oil
- 2 ½ cups finely chopped onion
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp minced ginger
- 2 green or red chillies
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp coriander
- ½ tsp cayenne powder
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 10 whole green cardamom pods smashed with flat side of knife or 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- ½ cup tomato puree possible substitutes: diced tomato or use jarred passata
- ¼ cup almond butter
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup yogurt
- ¾ cup whipping cream aka double cream 35% milkfat
- 2 lbs chicken breast cut in 1 1/2″ cubes
- 1 tbsp finely minced cilantro
- Heat oil over medium heat and cook onions with 1 tsp salt until very soft and deep golden brown, about 20 minutes (don’t rush this step, it’s important for the flavour).
- Add garlic, ginger and chillies and cook 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
- Stir in garam masala, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon and cardamom pods and cook a minute more.
- Add tomato puree, almond butter and water plus remaining 1 tsp salt; cook until oil starts to bubble up and shimmer on top. Stir in chicken; cook, covered, about 10 minutes or until cooked through, then stir in the yogurt and cream to heat through. Top with cilantro.
Last Updated on May 23, 2023 by Jennifer Pallian BSc, RD