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How to cook chicken korma

Can’t handle the fiery hot Indian curry?  No problem. Try chicken korma, the flagship of Indian korma curry that tastes heavenly yet so mild that even kids will love it.

Chicken korma is rich and creamy, cooked with plenty of yogurts, and heavily scented with expensive spices. Once it was the noble dish worthy for the Mughal emperors, graced the banquet tables of the imperial Mughal court.  Now, you can enjoy this delicious traditional dish at your comfy home.

Below is my chicken korma recipe, which is primarily based on the authentic Indian recipe with some Malaysian influence.

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Korma chicken

History and origin

Korma is originated from the Turkish word kavurmais, literally means ‘cooked meat.’  It also spells as Khurma or Kurma, is considered as one of the less spicy versions of curry. It purportedly originated for Persia and were brought into India by the Mughal Empire in the sixteenth century.

Korma can be mildly spiced or fiery hot. You may use lamb, chicken or beef. Some kormas combine meat with vegetables such as spinach and turnip.  You can, of course, add extra chilies to cook if you like. My recipe is relatively mild, but you can add more chili to it to make it spicier.

Cooking chicken korma is easy, but you do need to pay attention to a few steps to get it right. Below is a detailed explanation of how it is prepared.

How to cook Chicken Korma- the step-by-step explanation.

1. Marinate the chicken

Bone-in and skin-on chicken is most suitable for cooking curries, with no exception to korma chicken.

Marinate the chicken with ground turmeric, plain yogurt, minced ginger, minced garlic, garam masala, chili powder, and salt.  I prefer to add ALL the salt required for the dish to marinate the chicken so that the inner part of the chicken will be well-seasoned.  Part of the salt from the marinade will mix into the gravy so there is no worry that the chicken will be too salty.  Marinate it for at least two hours.

The marinated chicken pieces can be either grilled or shallow fried. I prefer to pre-fried the chicken in the same pan for roasting the spices to save the time of setting up the grill.

2. Prepare the onion and yogurt paste (the korma sauce)

Saute the onion

Cut the onion into thin slices. Separate the onion to become individual pieces.

Saute the onion over low heat until golden brown with some ghee. The chicken korma will taste bitter if the onion is burned by applying too much heat. Therefore, you need to keep the flame small and be patient. Browned onion give a pleasant aroma to the chicken.

Remove the onion and ghee once it is turned golden brown. You can substitute ghee with butter if you only cook Indian cuisine occasionally. Otherwise, get the ghee and cook it the authentic way.

Blend the korma paste

Once the onion is cooled, Put the onion into the food processor, together with the cashew nuts and plain yogurt. Blend until it forms a paste. Set aside the chicken korma paste for later use.

The cashew nuts will give a nutty flavor to the gravy, which also acts as a thickener. You can substitute it with almond, or use half almond and half cashew nuts if you like. There are many different recipes of korma chicken in India, which varied from one region to another. Both nuts are commonly used in the traditional recipes..

Always use plain yogurt for this recipe. Flavored yogurt can alters the taste of the korma chicken. We do not need the additional flavor from these yogurts. The array of spices and herbs in this recipe is enough to keep you drooling!

korma chicken with rice

3. Roast the spices

Roast the dry, whole spices to create a greater depth of aroma and robustness. This is similar to toast a slice of bread, which change the flavor and create a nice aroma. Roasted spices have a different taste than the unroasted one, and much better!

Put the dry spices (clove, cardamom, cumin seeds, and cinnamon stick.) in a heated up pan. It should be hot enough until it is almost too hot to touch.  However, if the pan is way too hot, the spices will get burn, and leave a bitter taste behind.

When you smell the aroma of the spices, and the color starts to darken, it should be ready to use.

4. Braise the chicken

Once the whole spices are roasted, add the marinated chicken, black pepper, bay leaf, chili, coriander powder and pan-fried over low heat. Add the onion paste. After that add some water and mix well.

The chicken is braised in a small amount of water, yogurt and the juice exude form itself after cooking for some time. Keep the heat low as the yogurt can get burn easily, Put the lid on so that the chicken will be cooked by the steamed created, or else it will be difficult to cook through over low heat with little liquid.

Open the lid every 5 minutes to give it a stir as it tends to stick to the pan easily. You can also use a  non-stick pan to prevent the chicken korma from the sticking.

5. Finish with some fresh herbs and spices

It takes about twenty minutes for the chicken to become fully cooked. When it is done, add some additional garam masala and freshly chopped coriander leaves.

6. To serve

Chicken korma is best to serve with biryani rice or jeera rice. It is also a great joy to soak up the gravy with naan, paratha or chapati.

authentic korma chicken recipe

Bonus step: Variations

Tomato and chili.

You can add one finely chopped tomato to replace the water to cook the chicken. You may also want to add more red chili instead of just using two small green chilies as in this recipe.

There is no rulebook to follow how to cook chicken korma.  Thus you can improvise the recipe the way that you like. I prefer to cook the korma chicken without red chili and tomato because most curries which are red and look alike. The color of this recipe is definitely not even close to red, and the tone down hotness also means it will be appreciated by everyone.

Yogurt.
You can substitute the yogurt with heavy cream or coconut milk. Many cooks are using either one of them or the combination. These are all acceptable variations. Stick to yogurt if you want the truly authentic flavor.

Shredded coconut
Some korma recipe adds shredded coconuts to the onion/yogurt paste. Shredded coconut is frequently used in Asian dishes. Add some if you like the coconut flavor,

Nuts
Cashew nuts and almond are both commonly used nuts in Indian cooking. They render a smooth and creamy texture to the korma chicken. Nuts also help to thicken the gravy.

Oil.
Ghee is best for making korma chicken. Butter is the closest substitute. Plain vegetable oil is OK but is not as great as ghee and butter.

The spices.
I use the common herbs and spices to prepare korma chicken in this recipe. Some chefs may prefer otherwise or want to add some local flavor to the korma.   For example, to include star anise and poppy seeds as well. In Malaysia, a small amount of Malaysian meat curry powder is added to the korma chicken too.

The Korma Chicken Recipe

Yield: 4 people

Chicken korma recipe

Chicken korma recipe

Can’t handle the fiery hot Indian curry?  No problem. Try chicken korma, the flagship of Indian korma curry that tastes heavenly yet so mild that even kids will love it.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

(A) To marinate the chicken

(B )To make the paste for frying

(C) Ingredients need to pan-fry briefly

(D) To cook the chicken

Instructions

  1. Marinate chicken with the rest of the ingredients in (A). Set aside for 30 mins.
  2. Heat up some ghee a pan. Add the sliced onions and stir-fry over low heat until golden brown. Remove and let it cools.
  3. Blend all the ingredients in (B) until it becomes a paste.
  4. Place all the ingredients in (C) in a pan. Lightly roast them over low heat until aromatic.
  5. Add the marinated chicken, black pepper, bay leaf, chili, coriander powder and pan-fried over low heat. Add the onion paste. Mix well.
  6. Add the water. Simmer over low heat with the lid on until the chicken pieces are cooked. Open the lids to stir occasionally to avoid the food pieces from sticking to the pan.
  7. Cook until the liquid is reduced to a gravy,
  8. Add the garam masala.
  9. Garnish with coriander leaves.
  10. Serve with plain basmati rice, naan, roti or paratha.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

4 servings

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 2483Sodium: 8000mgCarbohydrates: 72gSugar: 28gProtein: 308g
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