Northern India Chicken Korma
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Kashmiri (or kashmirial) is a vibrant Indian red chili powder (not be confused with chili powder blend).
I always serve my curries with plain basmati rice. I also have to have Naan Bread for soaking up the curry sauce.