Shahi chicken korma is a rich and flavourful curry worthy of the Mughlai royalty for which it was invented. Spice, coconut, almond, cream and a hint of sugar come together in a sumptuous curry worthy of any celebration.

Something bad happened to chicken korma. Something horrible really. It used to be a dish prepared for nobility. Mughlai nobility to be precise. They weren’t chili heads. Ate pretty simply really.  But I’m pretty sure if they tasted the cloyingly sweet, flavourless versions served today they wouldn’t be impressed. Not at all. Korma used to be party food. Now it’s baby’s first curry.

Shahi chicken korma delivers big flavours in a recharge of a tired restaurant classic.

No spice. Tons of sugar. That’s the British version. Can you tell I don’t get it?

Deeply flavourful. Well spiced. No sugar. Fruit. Super elaborate preparation. That’s the traditional Mughlai version.

Somewhere in the middle. That can be something special. That’s what this shahi chicken korma is about. Spiced. Rich. But no fruit. Not so hard to make. If you’ve made any of the restaurant curries on this blog this one is no different really.

I could see this on a restaurant menu. Two versions. Chicken korma – curry for your kids. Shahi chicken korma – curry for you.

Shahi chicken korma delivers big flavours in a recharge of a tired restaurant classic.

5 from 3 votes
Shahi chicken korma delivers big flavours in a recharge of a tired restaurant classic.
shahi chicken korma
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
20 mins
Shahi chicken korma - or royal chicken korma - is a curry fit for a king
Course: Main
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 2
Author: romain | glebekitchen
The spice mix
  • 1 1/2 tsp indian restaurant spice mix - recipe link below
  • 2 tsp kashmiri chili powder or 1/2 tsp cayenne mixed with 1 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
The curry ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • 1 3 inch piece of cinnamon stick - cassia bark
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp garlic/ginger paste - recipe link below
  • 15 oz curry base
  • 3 Tbsp coconut milk powder - Maggi brand is pretty readily available
  • 1 Tbsp almond flour
  • 10-12 oz pre-cooked chicken - this works with pre-cooked lamb as well
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar - more to taste if you like it sweet
  • 2 Tbsp heavy cream - 35% (optional)
  1. Make the spice mix.
  2. Combine and mix the coconut milk powder and almond flour with enough water to form a thin paste.
  3. Heat your frying pan (don't use non-stick) briefly over medium heat. Add the oil.
  4. When the oil starts to shimmer add the raw spices and cook until they start to crackle.
  5. Now add garlic ginger paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it stops sputtering.
  6. Turn down the heat and add the spice mix. This is the critical step. Stir it constantly for 30 seconds. If it starts to darken lift the pan off the heat. You want the spice mix to cook in the oil but not burn.
  7. Turn the heat up to medium high. This is also really important. The heat is what caramelizes the onion in the curry base and gives the curry it's Indian restaurant flavour. As you become more comfortable with this technique try pushing it.
  8. Add 3 oz of curry base. Stir until bubbles form (little craters really), around 30 seconds. Think lively boil. Watch the edges of the pan. The curry can stick here. Sticking is OK. Just scrape it back into the base. Burning is bad.
  9. Now add 6 oz of curry base and stir briefly. Let it cook until the bubbles form again. This takes 1-2 minutes.
  10. Add the rest of the curry base and let cook until the bubbles form.
  11. Stir in the coconut/almond paste.
  12. Turn the heat down to low and add the pre-cooked chicken.
  13. Let the curry simmer for about 5 minutes. If it gets too thick add a bit more curry base. Don't add water.
  14. Add the sugar. Taste and decide if you want it sweeter. Creep up on it. You can add sugar. You cannot take it away.
  15. Add heavy cream to taste. None is a really good curry. 2 Tbsp is a creamy, kingly version. Decide what you are in the mood for. The cream does dull the flavours but it adds richness and tempers the heat.
  16. Garnish with a bit of chopped fresh saffron if desired and serve with rice or Indian flatbread.
Recipe Notes

The recipe for curry base is here.


The recipe for indian restaurant spice mix is here


The recipe for garlic ginger paste is here.


If you haven't read about Indian restaurant technique yet, do that before you start cooking.

Have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go.

If you are making multiple curries, have your curry base warming in a pot on the stove. If you are just making one, microwave it to warm it up right before you start cooking.

Indian restaurants pre-cook their meat so it's ready for service. This recipe assumes the same. To pre-cook chicken, simply simmer it with a bit of curry powder and salt in chicken stock for about 10-15 minutes - until it's barely cooked.

To pre-cook lamb or beef, do the same but plan for 1 to 1/2 hours for lamb and 2 hours or more for beef. You are making stew meat so you are braising until tender. You will need to keep an eye on the level of the stock. For beef use beef stock.


8 thoughts on “shahi chicken korma

  1. This looks incredible! Indian food is my go-to guilty take-out pleasure, but I always feel so much better about my healthy-ness and wallet status when I make food at home. And this chicken korma is right on the money. Give me all the spice… hold the fruit. Sounds perfect!

    • Sounds like we think alike. This restaurant style korma isn’t exactly health food but it’s just the way I like it so I think it’s worth it!

  2. Hi. I want to make this Korma but don’t live near an Asian grocery store and here in England I can’t find the almond flour or coconut milk powder ,can I substitute with ground almonds and coconut milk or coconut cream? If so aprox how much please.

    • You can certainly use coconut milk instead of coconut milk powder. I would go with 5-6 Tbsp and maybe taste it before adding the cream. Almond flour is not an Asian ingredient necessarily. I would think the baking section of a good grocery store would have it.

      Ground almonds might have a different texture. I’ve never tried. Maybe equal amounts ground almonds to almond flour?

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