Northern India Chicken Korma (or qorma) is a deeply flavored, yogurt based curry. After chicken pieces are slowly braised with onion paste and spices, the outcome is a thick, creamy and deliciously saucy curry.

Dipping a piece of naan bread in a curry

The reason I called this curry ‘Northern India’ is because there are actually 2 variations of korma – north and south. Northern korma is yogurt-based, where the southern version is coconut based. Looking at the two of them, you may see slight differences in the colors depending on the combination of spices used.

Viewed from overhead, large pieces of chicken in a yellow Indian chicken korma curry sauce

Korma is different than the tomato based curries in that this chicken korma starts with an onion base and includes cashews, yogurt and spices. Indian cooking has always been about building flavors in layers and this Korma is no exception!

There are many curries that originate from India with Chicken Tikka Masala being one of the most popular. Chicken Madras and this Northern India Chicken Korma are close behind, however, this qorma might just be my all time favorite.

Preparation is key to achieving maximum flavor and the all important first step is the preparation of the onion paste. Onions are slowly browned to bring out amazing sweetness, then blended into a paste with cashews added for creaminess.

The second stage is ‘cooking’ the spices in oil. This helps take away the raw taste and the third step is cooking the chicken with yogurt that is also mixed with spices along with the onion paste. This makes the chicken so soft and deliciously tender.

What is cardamom?

A spice that is commonly used in Indian cuisine. Cardamom comes in pods that are either black, green or white. Black and green are most commonly used and the green is more common in ground form that you can find in jars in the grocery store.

Ground green cardamom spice and whole black cardamom pods used in Indian chicken korma

As you can see in the picture above, there is ground green cardamom on the left and black cardamom pods on the right. For the black cardamom pods, I buy them from Amazon. They are very inexpensive and an integral part of the flavor profile, so don’t skip this step! If you can find ground black cardamom, this will work also. 

This Korma recipe uses both black and green cardamom pods in ground form, providing very different flavors. The black is slightly smokey and the green is more herbal with essence of eucalyptus and mint.

There is a nicely balanced amount of spice to this dish. It’s not so hot that you’d have trouble comfortably eating it, but the spicy heat is definitely noticeable. If you like it spicier, you can add more kashmiri powder.

Creamy yellow chicken curry in a bowl

What is kashmiri?

Kashmiri (or kashmirial) is a vibrant Indian red chili powder (not be confused with chili powder blend). 

Serving suggestions

I always serve my curries with plain basmati rice. I also have to have Naan Bread for soaking up the curry sauce.

2 pieces of naan bread on a serving platter
Yield: 4

Northern India Chicken Korma

A copper bowl filled with yellow Indian chicken curry

A creamy, yogurt-based Indian curry. Chicken pieces are slowly braised with onion paste and spices,

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • ¾ cup (142 grams) plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Indian kashmiri powder (spicy red chili powder) see note
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground green coriander
  • 4 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 cups 270 grams onions, cut in half then sliced
  • 12 raw cashews
  • ½ teaspoon ground green cardamom
  • 1 black cardamom pod
  • Small pinch ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon grated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 ½pounds chicken breast, cut into large cubes
  • ½ teaspoon salt (you can add more at the end)
  • 1 cup water


  1. Add the yogurt to a bowl and stir in the Kashmiri powder, turmeric, garam masala and coriander until well mixed. Set aside.
  2. Add the oil to a large pan over medium heat. When hot, add the onions. Soften and brown for 10 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.
  3. To a blender add the cooled onions, cashews and a little water, blend until you get a thick paste. Set aside.
  4. To the pan you cooked the onions in, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium low heat. Add the ground cardamom and cardamom pod , cloves, pepper, cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Cook for a few seconds. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for a minute, do not allow to brown. Turn up the heat to medium and stir in the chicken and cook until the chicken is no longer pink.
  5. Add the onion paste, cook for a minute. Then add the spiced yogurt and salt, stir well, mixing the paste into the yogurt. Simmer for 10 minutes. Add the water simmer for a further 10 minutes until thick. Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Taste for salt, add more if needed.


This is a brilliant red Indian chili pepper powder, not a chili spice blend.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 609Total Fat 43gSaturated Fat 8gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 31gCholesterol 27mgSodium 325mgCarbohydrates 37gFiber 4gSugar 11gProtein 28g

This nutrition calculation is provided by Nutronix that is only a guideline and not intended for any particular diet.