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Chicken Korma Recipe

Chicken Korma Recipe
Chicken Korma with Lentils and a Roti

There are hundreds chicken korma recipes about but sadly most of them seem to miss the point. Korma and particularly chicken korma are very popular dishes in UK and other westernized Indian restaurants. Unfortunately, like a lot of other dishes, what you get in these restaurants bears little relationship to the original dish of Northern India.

Kormas probably originated in some form in Persia and were brought to India by the Moghul Empire in the 16th century. The name is derived from the Hindi word for braising and what defines the dish is that the meat or vegetables are braised in a sealed pot with small amounts of liquid which could be stock or cream or yoghurt or just plain water.

The UK restaurant 'chicken korma' is invariably mild, creamy and usually has nuts, like almonds or cashews, and it often isn't braised; It can be quite a pleasant dish but it isn't really a korma.

An authentic chicken korma recipe can produce something mild but can also be very hot, it need not necessarily be creamy (though the chicken korma recipe I give here is quite creamy). It really covers a wide range of dishes (so there will be a few optional extras at the end). Rogan Josh and Dopiaza are both variants of korma dishes.

Lamb and chicken korma recipes are probably the two most popular - see also my Lamb Korma Recipe.

The traditional cooking technique would have involved a pot with a lid over a low fire and probably with coals on the lid to heat the dish from all angles. Today we have pans with tight fitting lids, sealing the pot is essential and would often have been done using dough as a sealing ring.

Basic Ingredients

1lb (450g) chicken
1 medium onion
2 large cloves garlic
" (1cm) root ginger
pint yoghurt
red or green chilli
Oil for frying

1 black cardamom
teaspoon turmeric
Seeds from 2 cardamom pods
2 cloves
teaspoon peppercorns
1"(2.5 cm) stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
teaspoon grated nutmeg
About a handful of fresh coriander leaves

Notes on Ingredients

Chicken Korma Recipe
Chicken Korma

Chicken. I have used different chicken bits, for me chicken breasts are the easiest but you can use any joints of chicken really.

Onions, Garlic and Ginger. This is essentially a Muslim version of chicken korma recipe, most Hindus would eat a vegetarian version and Hindu Pandits would not use onions or garlic. This would be substituted with about ¼ teaspoon of asafetida.

Chilli. This is optional, korma can be a very mild dish I like it to have some bite and use one medium strength chilli in this quantity. It would still be a korma if you used loads of chillis and made it really hot.

Oil. Ghee is best for this dish and peanut oil is also very good, you can use butter, mustard oil or, if you have none of these, then plain vegetable oil is ok.

Basic Method

Heat a dry frying pan and roast the coriander, cumin, poppy seeds, cloves, peppercorns and cinnamon.
Allow to cool and grind these together with the cardamom seeds, turmeric and nutmeg to a fine powder
Chop the chicken into 1" (4cm) cubes
Coat the chicken with the spices, over and leave for a couple of hours (or in the fridge overnight)

Finely chop the onion
Crush and chop the garlic
Finely chop the chilli
Peel and very finely dice the ginger

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan.
Put the onions, garlic, chilli and ginger into the pan
After a few seconds, turn down the heat and continue cooking until the onions are nicely browned
Remove from the pan and set aside
If necessary add a little more oil to the pan and bring back to frying temperature.
Put in the chicken with the spices and fry until the chicken is sealed and has all turned white
Now reduce the heat to low, stir to prevent sticking.
When the heat is reduced, add the yoghurt a little at a time stirring it in.
Add the onion, garlic, chilli and ginger and stir this in.
Now cover with a tight fitting lid and slowly cook for at least 45 minutes

Chop the coriander leaves and either garnish or you can stir these into the dish

Notes on Method

A fairly straight forward chicken korma recipe. The only thing to note really is that the meat must have cooled down to simmering before adding the yoghurt or it may split.


This is a chicken korma recipe which I have cooked often and is really good. There are hundreds of variations on this though and I will do more recipes later.

You can use cream or thick coconut milk instead of (or even as well as) the yoghurt to make it even more creamy.

You can also add about a dessertspoon of ground up almonds towards the end which will make it quite like the UK restaurant style korma.

An option I have used is to add ½ teaspoon of garam masala about 15 mins before finishing.

I usually eat this with naan bread rather than rice but both are good. Any vegetable accompaniment is also good I like Onion bhaji with this or sometimes an okra dish.

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