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Feb 9, 2010 05:33 AM

Chicken Korma (and all its tasty variations)

Last night I made chicken shahi korma--it was quite delicious. More properly, according to this link, anyway, what I made was kashmiri korma, as I added 1/3 cup golden raisins.

But truly, as I also incorporated vegetables (steamed carrots, fresh green beans, cauliflower and peas), I guess what I made was some sort of krazy quilt of korma--including navratan. ;) I'll just tell you it was good. For the most part, I followed this recipe, minus one onion and half the chicken so I had room for the vegetables. Oh, and 60/40 cream to whole milk yogurt ratio.


I didn't add water (not sure why you need to).

Watch out for when to add the garam masala. I'm thinking I should've added it when I added the cinnamon stick and spices to the pan. The recipe doesn't specify. I guess they forgot. ;) Another teaspoon of spice (to equal a tablespoon, total) wouldn't be a bad idea.

No need to cook this forever and ever. Maybe it's different with lamb?

Instead of using all oil, I went 50/50 oil and butter.

Do you have a favorite version of this recipe? Indian cooking is new to me. Since I already have plenty of ginger and yogurt on hand, I'm experimenting.

Edit: forgot the mood music!

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  1. Garam masala is often added towards the middle / end of the cooking process, but it's not a disaster to add it in the beginning.

    A good variation on korma is to add ground up nuts (e.g. almonds or cashews) as a base for the gravy (sub for part of the cream/yogurt).

    Using grated coconut and some thick coconut milk instead of cream, and making a few adjustments to the spices, would take the korma in a Southern direction.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Rasam

      Interesting, thanks--good to know re the garam masala!

      Are you suggesting additional ground nuts (I used toasted almonds) beyond the 1/4 cup added to the garlic and ginger that serves as the marinade? Do you really usually marinate overnight? I didn't plan well. I let it hang for about an hour.

    2. If you have a grocer who sells the Shan masalas, look for "Chicken Handi." It's a yogurt and tomato sauce gravy / curry. One of my favorites that they make. While I have read from some that garam masala is a finishing masala, I always add a bit to my bhun (I think that's the correct term for blooming the spices in oil) if I'm using a garam masala. I cook Indian inspired food along with "traditional" Indian food at least once every two weeks, and I say (as alaways) make it how YOU like it. A recipe is just a guideline.
      Case in point: If you do wanna try the Chicken Handi, I'd highly suggest only using half of the masala that the shan packet recipe calls for. I'd also boost up the flavors with fresh ginger, fresh onion, fresh chile, and fresh garlic, along with some curry leaf, and lime juice.

      1. Yes, I was taught to add garam masala to the end of a recipe.

        1. I make a version of Show Me The Curry's navratan korma. It's killer. I've become a huge fan of whole garam masala instead of ground, not least because it gives me a ton of flexibility. Plus whole spices keep for ages so no wondering if my garam masala has lost half its potency since I bought it.

          Also, I always use canned evaporated milk instead of cream in Indian dishes. The spices mask the "cooked" taste and it cuts down a TON on the fat.

          I think even with the whole spices that kormas are a pretty speedy weeknight dish, and (shhh... don't tell anyone) a great way to disguise leftovers, frozen veggies, and produce that's not the greatest. Not that I'd serve that to guests, but it's a good re-vamp.

          1. Qorma is one of those dishes that I love to learn and read about and compare recipes, too.

            The word qorma came to South Asia from Central Asians (Transoxiana) and means "roasted, baked, browned" in Turkic dialects (kawurma). The Persians have their gormeh, prudent Urdu speakers must say it Qormah , and in India with non-Urdu speakers it is widely pronounced korma with no attention given to the Urdu original gutteral /q/ sound, which they approximate as /k/. But it is an indeed a dish of Mughal legacy in S. Asia.

            At least in South Asia it is traditionally made with mutton although these days chicken, fish, and pure veg. qormahs are there. I make chicken qormah way more often than mutton qormah, maybe just because it is easy and fast cooking.

            If I have a chance, I always ask people how they make their qorma. Some Pashto speaking neighbors (Northern Pakistan) make a liquidy stew with mutton and vegetables as their qormah. I think for them qormah is just what they call any stew type dish. I had a housekeeper who was a Bangalorean Muslim from a pure Urdu speaking family and they make their qormah with coconut milk, not yoghurt. My in-laws family (Urdu speaking Pakistani) qormah recipe is more of a typical Mughal inherited North Indian Muslim-Pakistani qormah recipe: meat must be braised, lots of crispy brown fried onions are used (ground to a paste), yoghurt is the liquid, the seasonings are garam masala (whole and ground), ginger and garlic paste (heavier ginger to garlic ratio) ground coriander, a pinch of red chile, and at the very end of cooking, a second pinch of garam masala or ground green cardamom, and a tiny dash or keora jal (pandanus flower extract water) are added at the very end of cooking...without the dash of pandanus water it doesn't have that qormah perfume taste. A layer of oil is floating on the top of the semi-liquidy gravy. It is eaten with naan and basmati rice, never chappati. There is also "white qormah" which doesn't contain browned onions. Ground almond or ground cashew pastes can be added to make the qormah "shahi" or royal. In Kashmir greens and vegetables can be added to the qormah, so it is more like the Central Asian-Persian type concept of qormah.

            In my laziness I use Shan Masala Korma spice mix, just 2 teaspoons, plus homemade garam masala and ground coriander powder, but otherwise prepare it as described above. I only use very fresh yoghurt and usually never add cream, but if I do, I will add 1 tbs at the very end of cooking just to thicken the gravy. I also make a qorma biriani by using the same qorma reipe, making a slightly thicker gravy and then using this to layer between parboiled rice then, then close the pot and finish off the rice.

            In Indian restos you will get a lot of interpretations of korma. Based on being a dish associated with Muslims, it gets classified in the resto Mughlai genre of foods and therefore you will find lots of cream, nuts and even raisins/sultanas since that is what is taken as "Mughlai". This can be a tasty dish, but it doesn't look much like a qormah made in North Indian Muslims-Pakistani homes. So I wouldn't say it is "authentic," ...or maybe that's the wrong way to describe it because it IS made in India by Indians that way. But who has the copyright on qorma, anyway? What I see as the North Indian Muslim-Pakistani "authentic" qorma isn't much like the original Transoxianan invaders' qorma, either. I do have creamy qorma like that at restos sometimes and it is yummy, too.

            2 Replies
            1. re: luckyfatima

              Thank you kindly for the crash course in korma! :) I love to learn the history of it all and appreciate the additional recipes, too. This is what makes this site both fun and educational for me. Have a great day!

              1. re: luckyfatima

                Korma biryani!! Fantastic idea.

                Thank you for this, fatima! :)