Bold, rich, and flavorful Chicken Korma is an all-time favorite chicken curry recipe that’s easy to make at home. Beautifully cooked chicken soaked in a thick, creamy sauce, this spicy dish makes an impressive meal for any occasion.
Creamy Homemade Chicken Korma
Chicken korma is a wonderful, hearty dish that we all enjoy, especially in cool weather. The thick, onion-forward gravy in this recipe is spiked with a mouthwatering blend of herbs and spices that give it a full-bodied and authentic taste, without hassle! If you’re a fan of Indian or Pakistani food, you have to try this dish.
If you haven’t made curry before, don’t worry! It isn’t hard at all, and before you know it you’ll be enjoying an awesome dish that you’ll want to make again and again – promise. Plus, it’s a flexible recipe that can be tweaked in a lot of different ways, to reflect what you have in your pantry and at your local grocery store.
What Is the Difference Between Korma and Butter Chicken?
Korma chicken is similar to another favorite curry recipe, butter chicken, but there are a few basic differences. For one thing, butter chicken is, well, buttery! The sauce in a butter chicken curry is blended with cream, yogurt, tomatoes, and real butter for a dairy-heavy dish that also tends to be a little bit (or a lot, depending on your taste) spicy.
Korma, on the other hand, doesn’t contain tomatoes nor butter – the meat is cooked in oil and/or ghee, and the result is a sauce with a focus on caramelized onions and spices. Yogurt is in there, too, and I add cream to my recipe, as well. Still, it’s not as buttery as butter chicken, and the sauce is more of a gravy than a cream sauce.
What You’ll Need
To make Chicken Korma at home, you’ll need a few basic ingredients, as well as a handful of spices to give it that special curry taste. Here’s what you’ll need to achieve the perfect sauce and juicy, flavorful chicken:
For the Chicken
- Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1.5-inch chunks.
- Spices and Seasonings: Ground (or fresh minced) ginger, minced garlic, garam masala, turmeric, salt, and pepper.
- Yogurt: Sour cream works too, but plain yogurt is preferable for its thicker texture.
- Lemon: Fresh lemon juice gives the brightest flavor, but you can definitely use bottled lemon or lime juice if that’s what you have on hand!
For the Onions and Cashews
- Vegetable Oil: For sauteing.
- Onions: Thinly sliced onions are an essential part of chicken korma!
- Salt: Just a pinch.
- Cashews: Coarsely chopped raw cashews give the korma a special flavor and texture.
- Yogurt: Again, sour cream works, but plain yogurt is best.
For the Korma Gravy
- Vegetable Oil: For extra flavor, you can substitute ghee for some of the oil in the gravy.
- Bay Leaf: A whole bay leaf adds a beautiful, pungent, herbal note.
- Peppercorns: Optional, but whole black peppercorns pack a punch of flavor.
- Spices: Ground cardamom, ground cinnamon, garam masala, chili powder, and salt round out the spice blend.
- Chilis: Seeded and diced serrano chilis add heat to the curry, as well as flavor. But, if you’d rather have a milder curry, you can leave them out.
- Heavy Cream: To add a bit of velvety richness.
- Rice: For serving. You can also serve this with naan or roti.
- Garnish: Freshly chopped cilantro makes a lovely and tasty garnish for chicken korma.
Let’s Make Chicken Korma!
This recipe is pretty straightforward but there are a number of steps, so it’s helpful to read over them a couple of times before you begin. Here’s the process in detail.
- Marinate the Chicken. To begin, let the chicken marinate while you work on the other parts of the recipe. Just combine the chicken, ginger, garlic, garam masala, turmeric, yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a large mixing bowl, or in a zip-top bag. Mix well and set aside for now.
- Make the Onion and Cashew Sauce. While the chicken marinades, drizzle 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil into a large skillet set over medium-low heat. Add the sliced onions to the hot oil, sprinkle them with salt, and let them cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often. Once the onions are nicely caramelized, add the cashews and cook for 1 minute longer. Take the skillet off the heat and scoop the mixture into a blender. Add yogurt into the blender, and pulse until smooth and combined.
- Cook the Spices. Return the skillet to high heat, and add another tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the bay leaf and peppercorns, and cook them together for 1 minute. Next, stir in the cardamom and cinnamon, as well as the diced chilies, and cook for another minute.
- Add the Chicken and Sauce. Stir the chicken into the spices, and allow it to cook for about 5 minutes, before adding the onion mixture and about half a cup of water. Stir this well, adding in the garam masala, salt, and chili powder.
- Simmer. Cover the skillet, and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Then stir in the heavy cream, and cook for about two minutes, or until heated through.
- Season and Serve. Taste for salt and other seasonings. Adjust if needed, and taste again. When the korma is seasoned to your liking, take it off the heat, garnish, and serve.
Helpful Tips and Tricks
If you want to know more about making chicken korma at home, look no further! Here are a few things I’ve noticed about the process, along with a handful of helpful tips and tricks.
- Marinating: While I don’t have a set time when marinating my chicken, you could marinate for 2 hours, or up to 2 days, in the refrigerator. Marinating it simply on the counter while you saute the onions is fine, too.
- Cashew Variants: Not feeling the nutty flavor of chicken korma? Try replacing the cashews with more yogurt (this may change the texture). You can also add chopped tomato for a more take-out style curry.
- Thickness: If you’re looking for a less creamy korma, add a bit of water until you’re happy with the consistency.
- Bone-In Chicken: Korma can be made with any type of chicken, including bone-in if you prefer. I recommend removing the skin.
- Spices: Korma can be made with all kinds of spices, both whole and ground, so feel free to play with the spice blend to suit your tastes. Remove any whole spices – like the black peppercorns + bay leaf – as you enjoy the korma during your meal, and set them aside on the edge of your plate.
Easy Serving Ideas
Chicken korma is wonderful with a simple side of steamed rice, but adding a side dish or two can really change the whole experience. Here are a few of my favorite side dishes for chicken korma.
- Easy Two Ingredient Naan Bread: My Easy Two Ingredient Naan Bread offers an authentic, tasty side dish that goes along great with chicken korma. Use this in place of the rice, or serve both, if you like!
- Roasted Veggies: Roast up just about any root vegetable, and you’ve got a perfect side dish for curry! I particularly like the sweet, garlicky flavor of Honey Garlic Butter Roasted Carrots. Yum.
- Biryani Rice: Make your menu an Indian-inspired feast, with this spicy, fragrant rice dish. Vegetable Biryani Rice is an easy-to-make classic.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To easily store your chicken korma, put it in an airtight container in the refrigerator after it has been cooled. Reheat and serve within 2 days.
- To reheat this dish, put the desired amount in a covered skillet over low heat, and cook until heated through (don’t overcook, or the chicken will dry out). You can also reheat in the microwave.
Can I Freeze Chicken Korma?
- Yes, you can! To freeze your chicken korma, keep it in an airtight container inside the freezer.
- Consume within 3 months.
- Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
FOR THE CHICKEN THIGHS
FOR THE ONIONS AND CASHEWS
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 yellow onions, thinly sliced
- Pinch of salt
- ½ cup raw cashews, coarsely chopped
- ¼ cup plain yogurt
FOR THE CHICKEN KORMA GRAVY
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns optional
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 serrano chilis, seeded and diced
- ½ cup water
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- Fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish
- cooked rice, for serving
- In a large mixing bowl combine chicken pieces, ginger, garlic, garam masala, turmeric, yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and pepper; mix well, cover, and set aside. You can also marinate for 2 hours and up to 2 days in the refrigerator.
- Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet set over medium-low heat.
- Add the sliced onions to the hot oil; season with salt and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, or until caramelized. Stir often to prevent burning.
- Stir in the chopped cashews and cook for 1 minute.
- Remove from heat and transfer the onions and nuts to a blender; add yogurt to the blender and process until smooth and combined. Set aside.
- Return skillet to high heat and add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.
- To the skillet add the bay leaf and peppercorns, and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in cardamom and cinnamon.
- Add diced chilis and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the chicken and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the prepared onion paste and ½ cup water; season with garam masala, salt, and chili powder.
- Cover; reduce heat to medium low and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.
- Stir in the heavy cream and cook for 2 minutes, or until heated through.
- Taste for salt and seasonings; adjust accordingly.
- Remove from heat.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.