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Chicken Korma

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Chai Wallah Chicken Korma

This is one of the best chicken kormas I’ve ever tried!

I am often asked if it is possible to create curry house style curries without a base curry sauce. It is but where you save time in not having to make the base sauce, you normally make it up on the other side by needing to make an authentic Indian base masala.

So you do have to fry some onions to make this quick and easy chicken korma but it’s all very easy. This chicken korma is a lighter version of the creamy kormas you find at most restaurants. I like to make it quite spicy with lots of fresh chilies but kormas are usually mild. I’ll leave that one to you.

Slicing chicken

Chef slicing chicken at a diagonal. Very important for perfection.

I’ve simplified this recipe a little to make it easier for the home cook but the recipe still works very well. It is important to cut the chicken breast pieces at an angle as shown. It cooks faster and remain really tender. The korma is made yellow with the use of turmeric. Turmeric is a strong spice and I often leave it out of my kormas.

Cooking chicken korma

Cooking the korma.

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Yield: 4 to 6

A Lite Chicken Korma Recipe

A Lite Chicken Korma Recipe

The carrot puree called for in this recipe is simply about half a carrot - peeled and finely cut - and then pureed with a little water in a food processor.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 4 chicken breasts - cut as pictured
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
  • 20 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 white onions finely chopped
  • 1 small fresh green chilli (or more to taste) finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons carrot paste
  • 200ml thick coconut milk
  • 50g block cream coconut - chopped
  • 4 tablespoons plain yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • Chopped coriander to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala


  1. Heat the ghee or oil in a large pan over high heat.
  2. When hot, add the curry leaves, cardamom pods, cinnamon and the cloves. If you are not a fan of biting into whole spices, be sure to count them in and then count them back out again at the end of cooking.
  3. Temper the whole spices in the oil for about 40 seconds and then add the finely chopped onion and stir to combine.
  4. The onion will soften and begin to turn translucent. When this happens, add the fresh chili, garlic and carrot paste and turmeric if using and stir to combine.
  5. Add the sliced chicken pieces and coat the meat in the oil/ghee mixture.
  6. Mix it all up and then add the bay leaves followed by just enough water to cover the meat.
  7. Place a lid over the curry and allow it to simmer away nicely for about ten minutes.
  8. After ten minutes, check your chicken korma. The water should have reduced by about half.
  9. Stir in the coconut milk and block coconut and stir to combine. This will leave you with a somewhat thick curry sauce. You may want to add just a bit of water though this korma is served quite dry as you will see from the photograph.
  10. Add the yoghurt one tablespoon at a time while stirring. If you add the yoghurt too fast it may curdle so do it slowly.
  11. Cover the curry again and let it simmer down to your preferred thickness. Another five minutes or so should be just right.
  12. Add the sugar (if using) and salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Just before serving, pour in the rose water and sprinkle with the garam masala and the chopped coriander.

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I use the block coconut and thick coconut milk supplied by Cocofina. These products are the best I’ve found. Cocofina is a sponsor of my blog. You can find more information about them and their products here.


Sunday 5th of January 2014

Hello Dan, This is a really interesting site, thanks for putting it together. Can you please kindly clarify something for me? Your Korma recipe calls for Onion seeds. There seems to be a lot of confusion as to whether Nigella Seeds and Onion Seeds are the same thing. Sainbury's sells own brand "Nigella Seeds", and Schwartz "Black Onion Seeds". According to some, these should be a different product. Which am I looking for, and if the recipe does indeed call for the seeds of an onion, can these be omitted, as I don't much like a strong onion flavour. Many thanks for reading, Richard

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 1st of July 2014

Hi Richard

Nigella seeds are often referred to as onion seeds. They are black. Nigella seeds are what I use. Just leave them out if you don't like the flavour. They are not actually onion seeds.

Thanks Dan


Monday 15th of April 2013

Wow.....cooked this Chicken Korma last night and just had to finish it off for lunch today.....absolutely delicious. I love your website and will certainly be trying some of the other BIR curries. Thanks a lot Dan. best wishes Louise

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 16th of April 2013

Thank you very much for your nice words Louise! I'm really glad you liked the recipe. Be sure to keep in touch.


Curry Lover

Thursday 11th of October 2012

You use turmeric but do not list it in the ingredients. How much turmeric needs to be used?

Dan Toombs

Monday 15th of October 2012

Thanks for catching that for me. You only need about half a teaspoon of turmeric. :-)

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