This is a traditional and authentic Chicken Korma recipe that’s easy enough to make on a weeknight. It’s a naturally gluten-free, one-pot chicken curry made in the Pakistani and North Indian manner.
This is one of those traditional dishes, like Nihari and Haleem, that I’ve attempted numerous times before I was satisfied enough to share. My goal is to give simpler, easier, and healthier versions of these dishes with zero sacrifices on the classic, ‘authentic’ taste. This traditional chicken korma curry is made the Pakistani and North Indian way, with a few helpful shortcuts.
Pop Quiz – What makes this Chicken korma ‘authentic’? Is it because…
a) I’m full-blooded Pakistani and feel strangely entitled to call it so.
b) You will not find ‘curry powder’ as one of the ingredients. Instead, you’ll notice an unapologetically long list of whole spices.
c) It uses legit (yet optional) ingredients like saffron and kewra essence. #fancy
d) All of the Above.
If you guessed D, then your answer is correct!
Jokes apart, I don’t think there is an authentic way to make anything anymore. Cuisine doesn’t freeze in time or place. Our recipes transport and evolve just as we do. Whether intentionally or not, we adapt our cooking to the ingredients, produce, and flavors around us.
But because I’ve tried to stick to the original concepts of korma as conveyed by google, youtube, and my mother-in-law, I hope ‘authentic’ will pass as an accurate descriptor.
So what is Chicken Korma?
Chicken Korma is a cherished South Asian dish from the time of the Mughals. In the Pakistani and North Indian way of preparation, whole spices are used to flavor the chicken and then yogurt is added in low heat to prevent any curdling.
One method I’ve often seen is first frying the onions, and then drying and grinding them with the yogurt. I’ve tried that and it made a negligible difference in taste compared to the method of just using a food processor to finely grind the onions before browning them.
In many traditional recipes, tomatoes are not used in korma. I do prefer the taste of them, so I’ve included! If you prefer not to use tomatoes, simply increase the amount of yogurt as desired.
How to double this Chicken Korma recipe
To double this Chicken Korma recipe, double everything except the whole spices as they’ll be too strong. I suggest 1.5 times the amount of whole spices.
What to do with the whole spices after cooking Chicken Korma
The whole spices are discarded while eating.
How to make Chicken Korma with ready made masala
If the ready made masala only has powdered spices, include the whole spices in this recipe. If you add your own spices, be sure to reduce the ready made korma masala accordingly. Add the ready made korma masala along with the meat as you would the rest of the spices.
Can Chicken Korma be made with freshly fried, ground onions (birista)
I don’t have experience with using freshly fried, ground onions (birista) but I would estimate starting with 1/2 cup and increase as needed.
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Other Chicken Curry recipes you’ll love
Instant Pot Pakistani Chicken Curry with Potatoes
Baked Tandoori Chicken Curry
Coconut Chicken Curry with Potatoes
20 Minute Coconut Lime Chicken Curry
Pakistani Chicken Karahi (Easy & Authentic)
Instant Pot Butter Chicken (Easy & Authentic)
If you try this recipe, please let me know in the comments below. If you’re on Instagram, please tag me so I can see your creations. I love hearing from you!
The Best Authentic Chicken Korma
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/8 tsp whole black peppercorns
- 3 green cardamom pods
- 5 whole cloves
- 1 1-2” cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 tsp red chili powder or more to taste
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder
- 1 3/4 tsp salt or to taste depending on amount of chicken
For the curry
- 1.5-2 lbs bone-in, cut up, skinless chicken cleaned and excess skin removed
- 2 large onions blended in a food processor
- 1/3 cup
neutral oil such as avocado or grapeseed
- 8-10 cloves garlic crushed
- 1 inch piece ginger crushed
- 2 small tomatoes blended in a food processor
- 3-4 green chili peppers chopped
- 1/2 cup
plain whole milk yogurtwhipped with a fork
- 1 1/2 tbsp ghee
- 1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (methi) crushed between your hands
- pinch saffron optional
- 1/8-1/4 tsp diluted kewra essence optional
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves chopped
- Combine the spice powders and salt in a small bowl and the whole spices in another small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over high heat. Sauté the onions until they are golden, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté until the raw smell disappears, about a minute. Add the whole spices and continue to sauté for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes* and continue to sauté for 3-4 minutes, until the tomatoes are fully cooked.
- Add the chicken and fry it until it changes color, about 4-5 minutes. Add the spice powders and salt, and green chili peppers. Continue to sauté for a minute.
- Add about 2 cups of water (depending on how much meat you have), lower the heat to medium, cover and let cook for 15 minutes. If it is too watery, put the lid ajar for another 5 minutes. Once the chicken is cooked, lower the heat and add whipped yogurt, ghee, methi, and saffron (if using).
- Add ¼ to ½ cup of water to thin it out, if desired. Allow the chicken to simmer for an additional 3-5 minutes. The oil will have risen to the top. Sprinkle the kewra essence (if using) and cilantro on top. Serve with rice, roti or naan.