If you don't like a hot curry, it can sometimes be difficult to order (or cook) a tasty curry. It's ok. Hot spice isn't for everyone! But I've got an answer for you right here. Korma. What is korma sauce? It's a really creamy curry with tender chunks of chicken made from a mixture of mild spices and coconut! It could be the perfect curry for you if you are looking for the mildest curry dish. Read on to find out what it's all about and how to make it…
What's the Difference Between Korma and Curry?
Are you feeling confused? Is Korma actually a curry?
The answer is an absolute yes! Korma and curry are the same things. They are interchangeable. Curry doesn't have to be blisteringly hot to be worthy of the name.
The dictionary definition of curry is as follows: -
Curry: A food or sauce in Indian Cuisine seasoned with a mix of pungent spices
Ask yourself, what is korma sauce? You should find that it ticks all the boxes of the above definition.
Ignore the curry snobs who say that Korma sauce isn't a curry. It was one of the most popular dishes at the restaurant I worked at, and they sold one thing… Curry.
What is Korma Sauce Made of?
Korma sauce is made of a few ingredients. You'll notice the complete absence of chilli, so if you are looking to avoid 'ring sting', this could be the dish for you.
In an authentic Korma sauce, you'll find: -
- Garlic and Ginger
- Garam Masala
- Coconut flour
- Fresh cream
And, of course, a little base gravy!
What does Korma Taste Like?
Take a look at the above list of things that you'll find in a typical Korma sauce. The beauty of this dish is that you'll be able to really taste all the korma spices because it isn't hot.
Korma is a little sweet and really creamy. The sauce is typically very thick due to the addition of coconut. It is full of subtle spices that work well with a creamy consistency. Cardamom and cinnamon cut through the dish, and the garam masala gives it a really authentic 'Indian' taste.
Where Does Korma Come from?
Korma has its roots in the Indian sub-continent. The authentic Indian version is actually a little different than its UK BIR counterpart.
The name is actually an English development of the Urdu word Qorma, which means to slow cook or 'braise'. It has existed in one form or another since the 16th century and was even served at the taj mahal's inauguration!
Is Kurma the Same as Korma?
Kurma is exactly the same as Korma. The confusion has arisen purely as a result of different restaurants changing the spellings of curries. If you spot it on the menu or want to make it yourself, don't worry that it will taste different, the only difference is a single letter.
Variations in spelling happen quite a lot in UK Indian menus.
Want more examples?
'Poppadom' is also referred to as a papadum or a poppadum
Jalfrezi can become Zalfrezi… And don't even get me started on 'naan' and 'nan'!
What is the Difference Between Tikka Masala and Korma?
Speaking of curry confusion, these are the two that are mixed up the most.
Here's the difference
Chicken Tikka masala is made with Chicken Tikka. A red marinated chicken that gives the dish its name. It is a tomato-based curry and is reddish in colour.
Korma (or Kurma) is made without using any tomato in the sauce. It tends to be a yellowish colour and is cream-based.
The reason for the mixup is that both Tikka Masala and Korma share a few key traits: -
Korma is the most popular curry dish in the UK
For years Tikka Masala was hailed as the nations favourite dish, so much so that it was named as the national dish of Great Britain, ahead, even, of fish and chips! (as an aside its actually quite funny that even the Encyclopedia Britannica manages to get it wrong and has, in fact, included an image of Korma under the heading 'Chicken Tikka Masala')
This has changed in recent years, with Korma now being hailed as the victor!
Both Korma and Tikka Masala are really mild
If you are looking for a mild curry, then these are your two best options. Most people who want a mild curry don't eat it regularly. As a result, they are not well versed in the particulars of each curry.
However, one 'mild' curry is definitely not the same as another.
Because Korma and Masala are the mildest curry dishes, it can be easy to confuse the two.
Tikka Masala and Korma are both made with chicken
A chicken tikka masala and a korma are both served with chunks of chicken. That and the mildness are actually about where the similarities end. Tikka masala actually has different chicken served within. This is marinated for several hours and is red in colour, but chicken korma is made with normal chicken.
What is Korma Sauce?
Korma sauce is creamy, sweet and really tasty! It has a creamy base, backed up with hints of Indian spices like garam masala, turmeric, cardamom and cinnamon. It is a really mild sauce that only takes a few minutes to create
The best way to learn is to make it yourself.
Here's a quick and easy Korma Recipe for you to try at home…
Chicken Korma Recipe
- 1 Tablespoon Oil
- 1 thumb-sized cinnamon stick
- 1 Green Cardamom Pod lightly crushed
- 1 large chicken breast cut into chunks
- 2 Teaspoons Ginger Garlic Paste
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 Tablespoon white sugar
- 2 teaspoons coconut flour
- 1 Cup of diluted curry base gravy heated to a simmer
- 1 tablespoon creamed coconut
- 4 tablespoons single cream
- 1 small pinch bicarbonate of soda
- 2 teaspoons butter
- Take a large frying pan and add the oil. Heat over high until it begins to shimmer, then add your cinnamon and cardamom. Stir until it is coated in the oil and begins to sizzle and turn fragrant.
- Add your chicken breast and toss in the spiced oil. Once the chicken begins to turn white, add your ginger and garlic paste. Once it begins to smell really fragrant, add your garam masala, turmeric, salt and sugar.
- Throw in the coconut flour and stir well so that there are no lumps. The flour should soak up the oil and turn into a thick paste. Fry until it begins to darken slightly.
- Add your base gravy and stir in the creamed coconut. Toss and stir the chicken, so it is coated in all of the lovely sauce. Bubble for around 5 minutes
- Once the base gravy begins to thicken, add your cream, bicarbonate of soda and the butter. Cook until it begins to bubble vigorously, then remove from the heat. Let the pan rest for 5 minutes. The creamy sauce should thicken slightly.
- Serve and enjoy!
Korma Sauce Tips and Tricks
- I include turmeric in my recipe. Some guys will suggest using food colouring. This isn't the way. Turmeric will give your dish a nice yellow colour, just like authentic Indian restaurant chicken Korma.
- Make sure your base gravy is heated. If you add it cold, it will reduce your pan's temperature, throwing your curry cooking time off!
- You might have noticed I added a tiny pinch of bicarbonate of soda in the above recipe. This is a top Indian chefs trick! If you cook cream at too high a temperature, it will split. By adding bicarb, you can prevent this from happening. Don't worry, you won't taste it in the sauce!
- The butter at the end is optional. I find it makes for a really rich sauce, but if you are trying to keep it (slightly) more healthy, you can skip it.
- I like my Korma to have just a hint of sweetness. If you prefer a sweeter curry, just up the sugar. Tweak it to your own tastes!
- This is one of the few curry dishes that doesn't use tomato puree as a base. Anyone who tells you otherwise is getting it confused with chicken tikka masala!
- Unlike my other curry recipes, this one only uses one cup of base gravy. Remember that Korma is supposed to be creamy. For that reason, the second cup of base gravy is replaced with cream.
- Some guys suggest adding powdered almonds to the recipe. I personally steer clear of this. The reason is that many people don't expect to find nuts in curry. The kitchen I used to work in had an incident where a customer felt really unwell because of a severe nut allergy. Now, I don't risk it.
What is Korma sauce? Now, hopefully, you know the answer. Korma sauce is a cream-based curry that is really mild and sweet. It has elements of coconut and other mild Indian spices. It is the ideal curry for people who don't like spicy food. What do you think should be the national dish? Korma or Tikka Masala? Let me know in the comments below!
Hi, I'm excited to try this recipe. When you say 1 c of curry base do you mean thinned out with water, like in your directions for using curry base? Or a full cup of curry base?
Thanks for getting in touch and I’m pleased to want to try the recipe.
You are correct, you will need to use one full cup of diluted base gravy as detailed in the other article you’ve mentioned. A common mistake people make is not dilute the gravy enough. As a good guide, I tend to dilute it until it is around the consistency of milk, don’t worry about it being too watery. I find that as it cooks, it thickens into a nice sauce. I’ll amend the recipe to reflect the point you mentioned.
Please do let me know how it goes. Thanks for reading.
I find your information most helpful. Can I ask you a question, We can't seem to find a jar of korma spice anywhere we liked Schwartz korma spice but they seemed to have stopped making it, or have they changed the name, Could you suggest an alternative jar of mild sweet spice powder
I’m glad you find my articles helpful.
I’ve had a look at the korma powder you mentioned, and indeed it does seem hard to find. However I’d like to help you out so here’s what I’d suggest. Why not try making your own? A lot of these curry powders are called ‘korma’ or ‘madras’ yet actually they are pretty similar aside from one or two ingredients.
Having looked at the ingredients which you can find here the ingredient that features most heavily in this ‘korma’ powder is in fact brown sugar! that’s the reason it tastes so sweet. If you run down this list you could try various combinations of the ingredients listed (without the additives of course) until you find the right balance: –
However, Like I said, I really want to help you make a cracking korma, so here is the spice blend I literally used last night for my own (impromptu) korma and it was pretty spot on…
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
Mix the all of the above in a bowl or jar, and that should give you enough to make about 3 or 4 kormas at least.
Alternatively, if that is too much effort, try adding a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar to an entire pot of this curry powder Its got practically all the same spices within, except for the sugar.
Give it a whirl and let me know how you get on!
I absolutely love this Korma recipe! I have tried many before but this one is just the best!
It's very fragrant and you can really taste all the different ingredients…
Thanks for your kind comments, and I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe!