Chicken Korma – Creamy Sweet & Aromatic

Chicken Korma – Creamy Sweet & Aromatic

Chicken Korma – Creamy Sweet & Aromatic

Chicken Korma is a classic Indian takeaway dish! It is buttery, creamy and fragrant and oh so yummy! This super simple recipe just might replace your local Indian!

chicken korma with basmati rice

Indian Week!

This month we are celebrating a different cuisine every week at Chilli & Life. The first two weeks of April saw us cooking and celebrating Nigerian Cuisine and French Cuisine due to my heritage and where I live. This week it is all about Indian Food!

I love Indian food because I am a sauce girl! Anything that has sauce that I can drench my carb of choice in is alway going to win my approval!

Indian food is spicy, aromatic and saucy! It is perfect for sharing and just what you want on a rainy Friday night in! Let me know what your favourite Indian dish is in the comments!

chicken korma with basmati rice and mango chutney

What is Chicken Korma?

Korma or ‘qorma’ is a curry dish originating in south Asia.The original korma has roots in Mughlai cuisine from the Indian subcontinent. It consists of meat or vegetables braised in yogurt or stock and spices. A one pot dish cooked slowly over a fire producing a thick sauce or gravy.

Chicken Korma in the UK has been named the most popular curry! It replaced Chicken Tikka Masala another popular curry in the UK. This variation of korma arrived in the UK in the 1960’s and 70’s. A time when many curry houses were opening up and down the country and Indian chefs soon realised their new English clientele wanted an array of curries that were hot, medium and mild.

Chicken Korma is now served at almost every curry house known as a mildly spiced curry with a thick sauce.

The sauce is made from an onion paste and nut paste made with cashews, almonds and water. Coconut or coconut milk is also used. It is a very rich, sweet and fragrant sauce which is traditionally mild.

This Chicken Korma Recipe

This Chicken Korma recipe is my take on the classic UK curry house version, but of course I have added more chilli for a good old kick!

Most curry houses and recipes I found online, when I first wanted to create my own recipe use coconut milk. I use coconut milk half of the time because I just love both versions!

Adding coconut milk makes an even creamier sweet curry! Leaving it out leaves you with a spicier richer sauce. This ingredient is optional and both versions are absolutely delicious.

chicken korma with basmati rice

What do I need?

Indian Cuisine is complex and there are often many steps involved if you want authentic results. Both whole and ground spices are used to intensely flavour dishes. Indian cuisine also uses lots of pastes made from onions, nuts and more.

The Chicken –

  • Chicken breast or thigh – The traditional dish at your local curry house uses chicken breast but a traditional Indian korma recipe will use a more tender and juicy cut of chicken like thigh with the bone in. I have used breast in this recipe but mix it up depending on what I have at home.
  • Plain Yogurt – Yogurt tenderises meat beautifully and will ensure your chicken, especially breast is extra juicy and soft.
  • Turmeric – This favourite Indian spice is going to add colour and an earthy bitter aroma.
  • Chilli Powder – Buy this from an Indian brand like Raja. Indian chilli powder is hotter than cayenne pepper and does provide a different flavour and more vibrant colour.
  • Salt & Black Pepper – Season your chicken well with this classic combination.

The Onion Paste –

Making the onion paste is super simple. All you need is water, onions and some crucial whole spices.

  • Brown Onions – 4 large onions sliced will form the base of the paste.
  • Star Anise – This anise tasting whole spice is used a lot in Indian cooking for its unique and bold flavour.
  • Cloves – 4-6 aromatic cloves will be fried together with the onions.
  • Cinnamon Stick – A 2 inch stick is enough to add some cinnamon flavours to the curry.
  • Green Cardamon – This spice is one of my favourites it smells amazing and pairs so well with chicken and nuts.
  • Bay Leaves – This dried herb is pungent and unique and compliments the curry well.
  • Fresh Garlic & Ginger – Garlic and ginger paste can be found in almost every Indian recipe. I use fresh pressed garlic and fresh ginger slices.

Sauté the onions in coconut oil and add the whole spices and fry until golden. Add water, cover and allow to cook for about 5 to 7 minutes. Once cooked allow to cool and then transfer to a blender and blend into a smooth paste. Remove the cinnamon stick before blending.

The Nut Paste –

All you need to make this super simple nut paste is 3 ingredients.

  • Almonds – Most countries sell already ground almonds in the baking isle. This is ideal for this recipe and means there is less prep for us!
  • Cashews – If you can find already ground then great if not simply soak in warm water before blending.
  • Water – Be careful not to add too much water or the paste will turn into a milk. Start with less and you can always add more if needed.

Simply soak the nuts in warm water for at least 20 minutes or as long as you can and then blend with 1/2 cup of water, until you have a silky smooth thick paste.

The Sauce –

Indian cooking uses spices at every stage and with every element. This is why the food is so rich and fragrant because there is always an abundance of spices used.

  • Chilli Powder – Use authentic Indian chilli powder which should be nice and hot.
  • Cumin – A classic Indian spice found in most Indian dishes.
  • Ground Coriander – Fragrant spice with a very different aroma to fresh coriander.
  • Turmeric – Adds colour and earthy taste to the sauce.
  • Brown Sugar – For added sweetness I like to use demarera.
  • Cream – You can use either double or single cream to finish the curry and make it super creamy.
  • Saffron – This expensive spice gives the curry a beautiful colour.
  • Lemon Juice – Some needed acidity added at the final moment with freshly chopped coriander.
  • Coconut Milk Powder or Ground Coconut – Add more sweetness and coconut flavours by using one of these ingredients.
  • Coconut Milk – Or use the milk to make it even creamier with a rich coconut flavour.

Tips & Tricks

  • Marinate the chicken 1 or 2 days in advance for super tender and moist chicken.
  • Be sure to use a full fat plain yogurt and not greek for the best results.
  • Make the onion base first so you can let it cool while you get on with the rest of the recipe.
  • Try making the pastes in this recipe in advance and even freeze them for quicker and efficient cooking of this amazing recipe.
chicken korma with basmati rice and mango chutney

Chicken Korma Serving Suggestions –

Chicken Korma is a hearty and rich recipe! It must be enjoyed with a generous side of carbs! Cook some of your favourite rice and cover it in the thick yummy sauce and enjoy!

Paired this time with some Fluffy Basmati Rice and Mango Chutney.

I also love to eat it with Naan Bread or Sesame Kulcha. I have yet to try to make my own but I definitely want to give it a go one of these days!

Chicken Korma

Creamy, Sweet and Fragrant Indian Curry House Classic!
Servings 4 people
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Marinade Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 50 minutes


  • Sharp knife
  • Chopping board
  • Blender
  • Silicone spatula
  • Wooden spoon
  • Meat Mallat
  • Bowls


Chicken Marinade

  • 500 g chicken breast
  • ½ cup full fat plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ¼ tsp salt

Onion Paste

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 large brown onions
  • 2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 4-6 cloves
  • 4-6 green cardamon pods
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger or 4 slices

Nut Paste

  • 20 cashews
  • ½ cup ground almonds
  • ½ cup water

The Curry

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 100 ml single cream
  • 4 strands saffron
  • ½ lemon juiced
  • ¼ cup coconut milk powder or desicated coconut
  • salt
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander


Marinating the Chicken

  • Beat the chicken a little with a meat mallet and then chop into small to medium cubes.
  • Add the yogurt and spices to a bowl and mix well. Add the cut chicken, mix well, cover and leave to marinate for 2-48 hours.
  • Measure out the cream, add the saffron and set aside.

The Onion Paste

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in the pan and add the sliced onions and whole spices. Fry onions until golden brown then add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add about 150ml of water cover and cook for 5 to 7 mins.
  • Turn off the heat and pour into a cold bowl and leave to cool.
  • Once cool remove the cinnamon and pour into a blender and blend into a smooth paste.

The Nut Paste

  • Soak cashews and almonds if using whole, in warm water leave for as long as you can. For a minimum of 20 minutes.
  • Add nuts and about 50 millilitres of water to a blender cup and blend until silky smooth.

The Curry

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in the pan and add the marinated chicken. Stir and brown the chicken slightly.
  • Now add the onion paste and sauce spices and mix to coat the chicken well. Keep stirring and brown the chicken more for about 5 mins.
  • Then add the blended nut paste and mix well until distributed throughout the pan. Add a 1/4 cup of water to begin and then as needed to loosen up the sauce. Stir, cover and turn the heat to medium.
  • Once bubbling add the coconut powder and stir in, add a little more water if necessary. Add the saffron cream and coconut milk if using and stir well on low/medium heat for 2-3 minutes.
  • Finally add the lemon juice and chopped coriander and stir. Add an optional garnish of more chopped coriander and flaked almonds to garnish. 
Author: Daniel Devereux
Cost: £10
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Curry, Fakeaway, Rich, Spicy

Did you try this Chicken Korma Recipe?

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m here to help! If you loved this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment and rating below! Let me know how it turned out for you and share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at @chilliandlife and hashtag it #chilliandlife ! I’ll be sure to share it!


    1. Amazing you will love it Jessica! I might just make it again this week after reading through the post! Either replace the 100ml single cream with 100ml coconut milk or stick to the recipe and start with 50ml of coconut milk (add at the same time as the single cream), mix and then try and if you want it sweeter and creamier keep adding and trying until you are happy with the taste. Coconut milk is very sweet and rich so always best to add sparingly and adjust to your taste 🙂 Hope it goes well!

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