- Chicken korma: When I think of korma, I honestly think back to when I was a teenager and didn’t like Pakistani food very much (I know, the tables have turned, but the situation has changed).
One of the dishes I would rather not eat was a korma, which happened to be one of the few.
Why? Why, why, why, why?
They were so oily that I never could get over it. Not to mention the whole spices floating around. Kormas were terrifying to me for the majority of my adolescence.
Then I tried one, my mother’s lamb korma at Iftar on a cool summer night. It wasn’t as oily that day, and the scent was very comforting and inviting. Additionally, I was truly taken aback by how delicious it was. Comforting, aromatic, and extremely tender and juicy, the meat.
That day, my aversion to korma vanished. Now, whenever korma sauce is served at a wedding or dawat, I happily dip my naan into it, even if it’s floating in a small pool of oil (hey, the spice-infused oil is TASTY!). Y’all, I’ve changed as a woman.) What is a korma?
A curry dish called korma is made with meat and yogurt on a base of crushed fried onions. It is frequently served at special occasions like weddings, parties, and Eid, and it has a lot of rich, warming spices in it. It is believed that the Mughal royal kitchens were the source of this extravagant dish, which is fancier than your typical chicken curry.
What distinguishes authentic Pakistani chicken korma?
What my mother has always taught me about authentic chicken korma is what I use as my guide. She has always maintained with firmness that a korma is inherently distinct from other curries—it has distinctive characteristics that should not be tampered with or it ceases to be a korma. They are:
One of its most striking and distinctive characteristics is the hand-crushed, crispy fried onions that are added toward the end of the cooking time.
Okay, I must get this out of my system. I’ve seen a lot of different korma recipes that call for puréeing the onions before frying them. I say no to this because purée won’t brown as well as sliced onions will. This effects the profundity of flavor and the end tone. I’m absolutely a perfectionist in such manner here – no to puréed onions in korma, please!
You might also be tempted to grind the fried onions into a smooth paste without washing your hands. I know, much simpler, right? The sauce’s grainy texture, on the other hand—a traditional korma does not have a sauce that is silky smooth—is another distinctive aspect of the dish. You can crush the fried onions with a pestle and mortar if you really don’t want to get your hands dirty. However, you shouldn’t crush them into a fine powder or paste. Good texture is!
This recipe uses warming spices like cardamom, cloves, and black peppercorns to give it a richer, more opulent flavor. Fried onions and yogurt make up the base of Pakistani chicken korma. Although cashews aren’t necessary, and many recipes don’t use them, my recipe uses them to make the korma even richer. Double cream or coconut milk are frequently used in other recipes, particularly those found in British Indian restaurants.
If you do not comply with these requirements, the korma police will not enter your home and seize your cooking supplies. I swear. I’m just going to show you how the original korma recipe looks so you can start with it and change it to suit your preferences as needed.
What’s the distinction between a korma and a curry?
If you read the preceding section, you might have already realized this. 10 points if you have The base of a korma is yogurt and fried, crushed onions. Because of the specific spices, the base of a curry is typically made of tomatoes and onions and isn’t quite as rich.
Ingredients for Pakistani chicken korma: Onions: Red onions are great for a korma because they have a better color and a flavor that is deeper and more mature. White is acceptable as well, but if I were you, I would choose red. The finer your onions are sliced, the better they will fry, how easy it will be to crisp them up, and how easy it will be to grind them by hand as well. You can also use fried onions from a packet as a shortcut, but the flavor will be significantly diminished. For this recipe’s quantities, you can use about 3/4 cup of pre-fried onions.
Chicken – this recipe calls for skinless chicken, bone in, cut into curry pieces. If you have to, you can use boneless meat, but this recipe is best with bone in because it has more flavor and depth.
Spices: Cloves, cardamom, bay leaf, peppercorns, coriander, and cumin all contribute to the comforting, opulent flavor that is unique to a korma. The aroma and flavor may resemble those of biryani, which is true because a korma spice mix is very similar to a biryani.
Yogurt: Because this plays a significant role in the korma, it is essential to select a high-quality yogurt—full-fat Greek yogurt is the best. Any full-fat yogurt will do if you can’t find Greek yogurt. Top tip: Before adding your cashews, thoroughly beat your yogurt to prevent curdling and to incorporate air into the yogurt, making it smoother. Okay, before including these in the recipe, I gave it a lot of thought. Although I tried this recipe with and without cashews, the cashew-based version honestly outperformed the cashew-free one. My childhood korma did not contain cashews. Therefore, I have included them; however, if you are unable or unwilling to include them, please scroll down to learn about substitutions. Before adding them, this recipe calls for them to be ground into a paste with some water.
Water of Kewra: This gives the dish a very real, distinctive, and floral scent. It really adds that final wow factor to the korma. It is acceptable to skip this if you are unable to access kewra water.
Almonds: blanched and used as a garnish in Pakistani chicken korma. First, we heat some oil or ghee in a large pot or pan and add some sliced onions. I always use ghee instead of oil, but today I used oil. It’s very important to slice the onions thinly rather than roughly; otherwise, they won’t crisp up properly. You’ll need to stay close by, stirring frequently to ensure that the onions brown evenly.
With a slotted spoon, remove the onions when they are a uniform, deep brown and spread them out on some tissue on a plate to cool. These will crisp up as we move on to the korma. If you don’t spread them out a little, they won’t get crispy.
Add the spices (all of which are listed on the recipe card), ginger, and garlic to the same vessel. All of this should be fried briefly until the chicken is no longer pink. Serve with cashew paste and full-fat yogurt. Sear this until the blend thickens, looks reflexive and the oil starts to isolate along the edges
Kindly note, this image above is the point at which I included the yogurt and cashew glue. After the mixture reached a glossy stage, I was unable to get a good picture of it. After the mixture reaches a glossy stage, add 400 milliliters of water, bring to a boil, cover, and cook on low for 30 minutes.
Your fried onions should have completely cooled while the korma is cooking. Use your hands or a mortar and pestle to crush these until they are broken down, but not into a fine powder or paste. Because it is what gives a korma its distinctive grain, it is essential that the onions have some texture.
There are two ways to blanch almonds after your korma has cooked:
Put a bowl of water over them for a few hours or overnight. The skin will immediately peel off!
If you don’t have a lot of time, you can boil the almonds quickly for a few minutes until you can see the skin beginning to separate from the whites. After removing the chicken from the water and allowing it to cool, peel off the skin. This chicken korma can be made without cashews by substituting cashews. Since the cashews added so much depth, richness, and flavor, we actually much preferred it with them. Remove the lid and add the ground onions after 30 minutes. After stirring, let everything cook for ten minutes.
Stir in the kewra water after it has finished cooking. The quantity of this can be changed to suit your preferences.
Before serving, garnish with blanched almonds!
You might not want to add cashews for a variety of reasons. That’s also perfectly acceptable!
Some substations include:
If you are okay with using cashews but don’t want to use as much as is stated in the recipe, you can reduce the amount and make up for the shortfall by using any of the aforementioned substitutes. Use an equal amount of blanched almonds; otherwise, the paste won’t be white like we want it to be. Omit the cashews entirely and replace them with an additional 1/4 cup of yogurt. Use 1/4 cup of double cream or coconut milk.
What to serve with chicken korma? I think that fresh, hot naan is the best accompaniment to a traditional Pakistani dish like chicken korma. In addition, it has traditionally been accompanied by Sheermal, a sweet bread that can be purchased fresh in Pakistan or frozen from Asian grocery stores if you live outside of Pakistan.
Generally, a korma isn’t embellished with new coriander as numerous Pakistani curries are. Crispy fried onions and blanched almonds can be used as a garnish.
A genuine, substantial, and opulent korma is the ideal dish to serve at a special event or gathering. With its rich flavor and a lot of warming spices, this recipe is the real deal. ideally complements naan, sheermaal, or taftaan.
Ingredients: 125 milliliters of oil or ghee; 200 grams of finely sliced onions (about two small or one large onion); 150 grams of full-fat yogurt; 1/2 cup cashews ground into a fine paste with water (see notes for substitutions); 4 black cardamoms; 16 green cardamoms; 15 cloves; 2 bay leaves; 1 teaspoon black peppercorns; 1 medium-sized cinnamon stick; 3 teaspoons coriander powder; 1 teaspoon cumin To ensure an even browning, add the sliced onions and fry them over medium-high heat, stirring frequently and keeping a close eye on them. If they appear to be browning too quickly or unevenly, you may need to lower the temperature after a while.
When the onions are dark brown (not black!), Remove them with a slotted spoon and spread them out on a paper towel. Set aside; as we work on the korma, these will crisp up. Add the chicken, spices, ginger, and garlic to the pan’s oil. Add the yogurt and cashew paste and fry this over medium-high heat until the chicken is no longer pink. Cook everything thoroughly, stirring frequently, until the oil separates from the curry sauce and appears glossy.
Once the onions have completely cooled down and become crisp, you can crush them with your hands or a pestle and mortar until they are broken down into a textured mixture. Add 400 milliliters of water, bring everything to a boil, and cook for approximately 30 minutes on low heat. They should not be crushed into a fine paste or powder.
Stir in the onions after removing the lid. Cook for an additional ten minutes after removing the lid.
Incorporate the kewra water. Give it a taste and adjust the salt and chilli if necessary. Garnish with almonds just before serving. If you don’t want to use cashews, you can use 1/4 cup double cream, coconut milk, or 150 grams of yogurt instead. Almonds can also be substituted for cashews in this recipe.