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"The Ultimate Guide to Making Chicken Korma: A Step-By-Step Recipe for the Perfect Indian Dish"

Updated: Mar 31

Authentic homemade chicken korma is a creamy, succulent, and subtly spiced dish that is a staple in Indian cuisine. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to prepare Chicken Korma, ensuring that even beginners can achieve that rich taste and creamy consistency that makes this dish a universal favorite. From creating the perfect korma curry paste to simmering the chicken for optimal flavor absorption, we'll cover all the essential steps, including chef's tips and serving suggestions.

Key Takeaways

  • Chicken Korma is made by first creating a curry paste from a blend of spices and aromatics, which is then cooked to release its fragrant aroma.

  • The chicken is cut into bite-sized pieces and browned along with sautéed onions, garlic, and ginger to enhance its flavor.

  • A mixture of yogurt and spices is added to the chicken, which is then simmered gently to allow the flavors to be fully absorbed.

  • To finish the dish, double cream and brown sugar are stirred in, giving the korma its characteristic creamy texture and slight sweetness.

  • Accompanying the korma with the right sides, such as rice or naan bread, and garnishing appropriately can elevate the dish to a restaurant-quality level.

Creating the Korma Curry Paste

Gathering Ingredients for the Paste

The foundation of a flavorful Chicken Korma lies in its curry paste. Begin by assembling all the necessary ingredients to create a rich and aromatic base. Ensure you have fresh, high-quality spices for the best results. Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds

  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds

  • Seeds from 10 cardamom pods

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled

  • 2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled

  • 2 tbsp concentrated tomato puree

  • 2 green chillies, washed and tops removed

  • 2 oz cashew nuts

  • 8 sprigs of coriander

  • 3 tbsp desiccated coconut

  • 1 tbsp garam masala

  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

Once gathered, these ingredients will be blended to form the korma paste, which is the essence of the dish. It's important to measure them accurately to maintain the balance of flavors.

Blending Spices and Aromatics

The creation of the Korma Curry Paste begins with the careful blending of spices and aromatics. Start by gently frying cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and cardamom pods in a pan with oil until their fragrances are released. This process infuses the oil and creates a base for the paste's complex flavors.

After the spices have become fragrant, allow them to cool before transferring them to a food processor. Add garlic, ginger, tomato puree, green chillies, cashew nuts, coriander sprigs, desiccated coconut, garam masala, and ground turmeric. Blend these ingredients until a smooth paste forms. You may need to add a touch of water to achieve the right consistency.

Finally, the paste can be used immediately in your dish or stored for later use. Remember, the quality of your paste is pivotal in determining the overall taste of your Korma.

Cooking the Paste to Release Aromas

Once your korma curry paste ingredients are blended into a smooth consistency, the next crucial step is to cook the paste. This process is essential to deepen the flavors and ensure that the raw taste of the spices is eliminated. Begin by heating a pan with a bit of oil over medium heat. Add the freshly made paste to the pan and cook it, stirring frequently to prevent it from sticking to the bottom.

As the paste cooks, you'll notice the color deepening and the oils from the spices beginning to surface. This is a good sign that the aromatics are doing their job. It's important to cook the paste until the oil starts to separate from the mixture, which typically takes about 5 to 8 minutes. During this time, the kitchen will fill with an irresistible aroma, indicating that the paste is ready for the next stage of your chicken korma.

Remember to adjust the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle sizzle without burning the paste. Once done, set the cooked paste aside, ready to be combined with the chicken and other ingredients to create a truly delectable dish.

Prepping the Chicken and Aromatics

Cutting the Chicken into Pieces

Once you have your chicken, whether it's breasts or thighs, it's important to cut them into uniform 2-inch pieces. This ensures that each piece cooks evenly and absorbs the flavors of the korma sauce thoroughly.

Here's a quick checklist to ensure you're ready to move on to the next steps:

  • Chicken cut into 2-inch pieces

  • All pieces are roughly the same size

  • Chicken is patted dry to remove excess moisture

Remember, the size and preparation of the chicken are crucial for the perfect Chicken Korma.

Chopping Onions and Preparing Garlic and Ginger

Once you have your chicken cut into bite-sized pieces, the next step is to prepare the base aromatics for the Korma. Chopping onions, and preparing garlic and ginger are foundational tasks that will greatly influence the final taste of your dish. Ensure that the onions are finely chopped to allow them to meld seamlessly into the sauce, and that the garlic and ginger are grated or minced to release their full aroma.

Here's a quick checklist for your preparation:

  • Finely chop the onions

  • Mince or grate the garlic

  • Grate the ginger

Remember, these ingredients can be prepared ahead of time and stored in separate airtight containers in the fridge. This not only saves time but also helps to lock in the freshness until you're ready to cook.

Sauting Onions and Browning the Chicken

The process of sauting onions and browning the chicken is a pivotal step in creating a flavorful Chicken Korma. Begin by heating a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Sear the chicken pieces in batches to achieve a golden brown crust, which is essential for locking in the juices and flavor. It's important to avoid overcrowding the pan to ensure each piece cooks evenly.

Once the chicken is seared, set it aside and reduce the heat to medium. Add another tablespoon of oil if needed and gently fry the onions until they are soft and translucent. This stage is crucial as it forms the base of the curry's flavor profile. If the onions begin to stick, a little more oil can prevent burning and ensure they cook perfectly.

Simmering the Chicken Korma

Incorporating Yogurt and Spices

To begin the process of infusing the Chicken Korma with its characteristic creamy texture and rich flavor, whisk the yogurt and unsweetened coconut milk together until smooth. This mixture will form the base of the sauce that will coat the chicken pieces.

Next, prepare the spice blend by combining almond flour, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, and cayenne pepper in a separate bowl. This blend will give the Korma its vibrant color and deep, aromatic taste.

Finally, gently fold the yogurt mixture into the pot, ensuring it envelops the chicken thoroughly. Sprinkle the prepared spice blend over the chicken, and stir to ensure each piece is well-coated. This step is crucial to achieving the Korma's signature flavor profile.

Gentle Simmering for Flavor Absorption

Once the chicken has been gently simmering and absorbing the intricate flavors of the spices and aromatics, it's time to introduce the final elements that will round out the dish. Add the double cream and a touch of brown sugar to the mixture, stirring well to ensure everything is beautifully combined. The cream enriches the korma, giving it a luxurious texture and balancing the spice profile.

As the korma continues to simmer for an additional 5 minutes, you may notice the sauce thickening. If the consistency isn't to your liking, allow it to simmer a bit longer or consider adding a teaspoon of cornstarch mixed with water to achieve the desired thickness. Adjust the cream, yogurt, and spices to suit your taste, ensuring a harmonious balance between creaminess and heat.

Adding Cream and Final Touches

Once the chicken has simmered and absorbed the intricate flavors of the spices, it's time to introduce the final elements that will round out the dish. Add the double cream to the korma, stirring gently to blend it into the sauce. This addition enriches the curry, giving it a luxurious texture and a beautiful creamy hue.

As the korma approaches completion, take a moment to taste and adjust the seasoning. Here's a quick guide to alternatives if you're missing an ingredient:

  • Greek Yogurt: Use regular plain yogurt if Greek yogurt is unavailable.

  • Double Cream: Substitute with heavy cream or coconut milk for a lighter version.

  • Nuts: Swap cashews for blanched almonds or almond butter if desired.

Remember to simmer the curry gently after adding the yogurt and cream to prevent curdling. If the sauce isn't thickening as desired, allow it to simmer a bit longer or use a cornstarch slurry to achieve the right consistency. The final stage is crucial for balancing the creaminess with the spice levels, ensuring your chicken korma is authentically delightful.

Chef's Tips for Perfect Chicken Korma

Avoiding Common Cooking Mistakes

To ensure your Chicken Korma is as delicious as it can be, sidestepping common pitfalls is key. One frequent error is overcooking the chicken, which can lead to a dry and tough texture. Instead, monitor the chicken closely and remove it from heat as soon as it's cooked through.

Another mistake to avoid is underestimating the importance of spice quality. Stale or low-quality spices can result in a lackluster Korma. Always opt for fresh, high-quality spices to achieve the vibrant flavors Chicken Korma is known for.

Lastly, resist the temptation to rush the simmering process. A gentle simmer allows the flavors to meld beautifully, creating a more harmonious dish. Here's a quick checklist to help you remember these tips:

  • Monitor chicken doneness

  • Use fresh, high-quality spices

  • Introduce yogurt carefully

  • Allow for a gentle simmer

Achieving the Right Consistency and Flavor

The journey to a perfect Chicken Korma involves a delicate balance between the richness of the sauce and the depth of flavor. To ensure the sauce achieves the desired consistency, consider the following tips:

  • Marinate for Flavor: Marinating the chicken in yogurt and korma paste can infuse it with additional flavors.

  • Sauce Consistency: The thickness of the sauce can be adjusted with water or chicken stock. For a thicker sauce, allow it to simmer and reduce.

  • Taste and Adjust: Continuously taste the curry and adjust the seasoning with salt or sugar to suit your palate.

For those seeking to avoid curdling when incorporating dairy, gently simmer the curry after adding yogurt and cream. If the sauce isn't thickening as desired, a small amount of cornstarch mixed with water can be introduced. Balancing the creaminess with the spice levels is crucial, so don't hesitate to modify the amounts of cream, yogurt, and spices.

Serving Suggestions and Pairings

When it comes to serving Chicken Korma, the right accompaniments can elevate the dish to new heights. Steamed basmati rice remains a timeless classic, providing a subtle flavor that complements the rich korma sauce. For those seeking variety, pilau rice introduces an aromatic twist to the meal.

Beyond rice, consider these delightful pairings:

  • Peshwari or Kashmiri naan for a nutty sweetness

  • A spicy chutney to add a zesty kick

  • Bhindi or potato bhaji for a comforting vegetable side

  • Cucumber raita to cool the palate

Accompaniments for Chicken Korma

Selecting the Best Sides

Choosing the right accompaniments for Chicken Korma can elevate the dining experience to new heights. Steamed basmati rice is a timeless classic that perfectly absorbs the rich flavors of the korma sauce. For those seeking variety, pilau rice offers a fragrant alternative with its blend of spices and herbs.

Beyond rice, consider adding a vegetable side to balance the meal. A bhindi (okra) or potato bhaji brings a delightful texture contrast, while a cooling cucumber raita provides a refreshing counterpoint to the korma's warmth. Homemade naan bread, such as peshwari or Kashmiri naan, is another excellent choice for sopping up the creamy sauce.

Balancing Flavors and Textures

Achieving the perfect balance of flavors and textures in Chicken Korma is both an art and a science. The creamy richness of double cream or coconut milk contrasts beautifully with the heat from the spices, creating a harmonious dish. Adjusting the sweetness with brown sugar, honey, or white sugar can enhance the depth of flavors.

To ensure a well-rounded dish, consider the following adjustments:

  • Gentle Simmering: Prevent curdling by simmering the curry gently after adding yogurt and cream.

  • Thickening Sauce: If the sauce isn't at the desired consistency, simmer longer or use a cornstarch slurry.

  • Taste and Adjust: Regularly taste and adjust the seasoning with salt or sugar to perfect the dish's flavor profile.

Remember, the goal is to create a dish that is as pleasing to the palate as it is to the eye, with each ingredient playing its part to complement the others.

Presentation and Garnishing Tips

The final flourish to your Chicken Korma can transform it from a simple home-cooked meal to a dish worthy of a feast. Presentation is key, and the right garnishes not only add visual appeal but also enhance the flavors. Here's a quick guide to garnishing your Chicken Korma:

  • Fresh cilantro leaves add a burst of color and a refreshing taste.

  • A sprinkle of garam masala introduces a final layer of spice.

  • Almond slivers or cashew pieces provide a delightful crunch.

  • For a hint of sweetness, consider sultanas or a pinch of shredded coconut.

When serving, use a large plate to allow the colors and textures to stand out. A well-presented Chicken Korma becomes not just a meal, but an experience, inviting diners to savor each element of the dish. For those with dietary restrictions, coconut milk can serve as a dairy-free alternative without compromising the korma's richness.


In conclusion, preparing Chicken Korma is a delightful culinary journey that rewards you with a dish rich in flavors and creamy texture. The process involves making a korma curry paste, sautéing onions, and browning the chicken before simmering it in a yogurt and cream sauce. With a medley of spices and a careful balance of heat, this dish achieves a gentle fragrance and succulence that is sure to impress. Whether served with rice, naan, or other sides, Chicken Korma is a testament to the subtlety and depth of Indian cuisine. It's a perfect recipe for those looking to explore authentic flavors or simply enjoy a comforting meal that is both satisfying and aromatic.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key ingredients for Chicken Korma?

The key ingredients for Chicken Korma include chicken breast, vegetable oil, a large onion, korma curry paste, Greek yogurt, double cream, brown sugar, and salt.

How should the chicken be prepared before cooking?

The chicken should be cut into bite-sized pieces, ideally from boneless, skinless chicken thighs for the best texture and flavor absorption.

What are the steps involved in making the korma curry paste?

To make the korma curry paste, gather all the necessary ingredients, blend the spices and aromatics until smooth, and cook the paste to release the aromas and flavors.

How long should the Chicken Korma be simmered?

After adding yogurt and spices, the Chicken Korma should be simmered gently for about 10 minutes, then after adding cream and brown sugar, simmer for an additional 5 minutes for the flavors to meld and the chicken to cook through.

Can I prevent the yogurt from curdling in the Chicken Korma?

Yes, to prevent the yogurt from curdling, whisk it thoroughly before adding it to the hot skillet and maintain a gentle simmer over low heat. If curdling occurs, remove from heat and stir until smooth.

What are some good accompaniments for Chicken Korma?

Chicken Korma pairs well with rice, naan bread, or other Indian bread. You can also serve it with a side of sliced almonds, chopped fresh cilantro, and other sides to balance flavors and textures.

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