A chicken korma is a Mughal Indian curry dating back to the 16th century, featuring a silky yoghurt based sauce and fragrantly spiced it is a winner!
What is a Chicken Korma?
A chicken korma is an Indian curry recipe of Mughal origins dating back to the 16th century… But enough of that! Curries to me are predominantly about my obsession with British Indian variants of my favourite cuisine.
Now I have a confession, I struggled with this recipe. Primarily because a chicken korma in the UK is largely known as a curry for those that do not like curry.
It has evolved over the years into the dish that gets recommended to ‘that’ person in the party that does not like ‘spice’.
Now a traditional korma is a light fragrant recipe in a thick yoghurt based sauce that is traditionally thickened with almonds. In many ways very similar to a chicken passanda recipe.
That light fragrant ‘thing’ kinda disappeared from most British Indian restaurants and a rather bland dish remained.
My korma recipe though is very different from the bland dish I avoided on the menu. I decided to take it back closer to a traditional recipe.
My base came from a recipe I stumbled on by Atul Kochhar. The first Indian chef to receive a Michelin star and owner of a restaurant, that I consider to probably be the best I have ever eaten in, ‘Benares’!
The approach of using the almonds to add texture rather than a thickening agent is genius. I have a rep as being a bit of a nut fan… With them cropping up in a host of recipes!
How Do You Make a Chicken Korma?
As you can imagine there are a boatload of ways to make a korma. However, my approach is simple:
An onion paste with a few spices, then the chicken and finally a sauce. It takes around 40 minutes in total but it is incredibly simple and requires no mad cooking skills.
This homemade chicken korma recipe features the addition of tadka, or tempered spices at the end.
An approach I rarely take, to my mind it works really well with mild and fragrant curries. Most of my Indian Curry recipes are big and bold like my, Madras, Vindaloo or Balti so the tempered spices get lost.
Don’t worry though, tempering spices is nothing like the complex process of tempering chocolate!
It is a simple matter of heating an oil, here it is a ghee and then adding whole spices to extract the flavour. Then adding those spices to a curry, typically at the end.
The process adds high notes to a curry allowing things like cumin, cardamom and coriander seeds so have a prevalent flavour.
It works exceptionally well here and the ghee adds to the whole sense of richness to the recipe.
I have seen a host of recipes with the korma made with coconut milk which is just… Well wrong!
There is a sourness and astringency that you get from the yoghurt that is fundamental to the korma experience.
My Love of Curry!
You will find an awful lot of curries here on my website… As a chap growing up in the early 1980’s in Birmingham they were impossible to ignore.
They contain a complexity and depth of flavour that was a revelation to someone who probably had not even tried pasta, other than ‘Spaghetti hoops’, until I was maybe 7 or 8.
They are probably the genesis of my love of food.
Most importantly my experiments with Indian flavours probably taught me more about the combination of flavours than any other cuisine.
A curry is never just a curry, it is a magical journey through flavour, and the chicken korma should not be different to that.
- 500 g Chicken Thighs
- 2 Tbsp Flaked Almonds
- 75 g Onion
- 200 g Greek Yoghurt
- 2 Tbsp Cream
- 15 g Coriander Leaves
- 6 Curry Leaves
- 1/2 Tsp Garam Masala
- 1/4 Tsp Turmeric
- 1/2 Tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder
- 75 ml Water
- 40 g Ghee
- 1 Stick Cinamon
- 2 Cloves
- 4 Green Cardamom Pods
- Place the almonds in a pan and then toast them either in the oven or on the stove top.
- Slice your chicken thighs which should be boneless and skinless into bite-sized pieces.
- Roughly chop the onion and then blend to a smooth paste adding water as necessary.
- Chop the coriander leaves.
- Melt half of the ghee in a pan over a medium heat and add the curry leaves stirring for 30 seconds.
- Add in the onion paste and stir before adding in the chicken and cooking until lightly coloured.
- Pour 50ml of water into the pan and then add in the chili powder, turmeric and garam masala stirring for 30 seconds.
- Season with salt.
- Whisk together the remaining water with the creamand yoghurt and add to the chicken.
- Mix together and bring to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes ensuring that you do not boil as this will split your sauce.
- Just before serving melt the remaining ghee in a pan and add the green cardamom pods, cloves and cinnamon stick.
- Stir until they begin to crackle.
- Then add the ghee into the curry, discarding the seeds and add the coriander and serve topped with the almond flakes.