shahi chicken korma

Shahi chicken korma is a rich and flavourful curry. It’s a dish invented for nobility. Spice, coconut, almond, cream and a hint of sugar come together in a sumptuous curry worthy of any celebration.

Chicken korma can be a great dish. If it’s done right. This is a dish that has been around forever. Traces back to the 16th century. Legend says it was served at the inauguration of the Taj Mahal. That’s a pretty big deal.

Shahi chicken korma in a bowl from the front.

Chicken korma can have real flavour

Traditionally, it can run from mildly spiced to fiery hot. That’s right. Fiery hot. But something happened. Something I don’t think was good. Korma went from great to bland. Lost along the way. I’ve even seen recipes with bananas in it. Bananas???

This is royal food. Mughlai nobility to be precise. They weren’t chili heads. Ate pretty simply really.

Imagine what they would think if they tasted the cloyingly sweet, flavourless versions served today. Not impressed I bet. Not at all. Korma used to be party food. Now it’s baby’s first curry.

Indian restaurant style shahi chicken korma is spicy take on a classic curry.

It doesn’t have to be that way. There’s no rule that says it needs to be bland. Or sweet. In fact the Mughlai version is well spiced. No sugar. But that version is a lot of work.

Shahi chicken korma in a serving dish with spoon from above.

This chicken korma strikes a balance

Somewhere in the middle though. That is special. That’s what this shahi chicken korma is all about. Not a ton of work.  Not bland. Real flavour.

A bit spicy. Rich.  Not so hard to make. If you’ve made any of the restaurant curries on this blog this one is no different really.

Look at the pictures. This isn’t some yellow chicken korma loaded with sugar and cream. It’s red. If you are looking for creamy, bland and cloyingly sweet this isn’t it. Consider yourself warned.

Close-up of shahi chicken korma.

Restaurant style curries mean restaurant style prep

This is how they make curries in restaurants. It goes fast. Prep everything. Be ready. Have all your ingredients measured out before you turn on the heat.

Restaurant style cooking is different from homestyle. It relies on high heat and curry base. This isn’t the slow braise you are used to. If you don’t know what I’m talking about read this primer to restaurant style cooking. There’s even a video. It will help.

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

Close-up of shahi chicken korma.
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4.89 from 18 votes

shahi chicken korma

Shahi chicken korma - or royal chicken korma - is a curry fit for a king
Course Main
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2
Calories 651kcal
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)


  • Make the spice mix.
  • Combine and mix the coconut milk powder and almond flour with enough water to form a thin paste.
  • Heat your frying pan (don't use non-stick) briefly over medium heat. Add the oil.
  • When the oil starts to shimmer add the cinnamon and cardamom and cook until they start to crackle.
  • Now add garlic ginger paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it stops sputtering.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Now add 6 oz of curry base and stir briefly. Let it cook until the bubbles form again. This takes 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the rest of the curry base and let cook until the bubbles form.
  • Stir in the coconut/almond paste.
  • Turn the heat down to low and add the pre-cooked chicken.
  • Let the curry simmer for about 5 minutes. If it gets too thick add a bit more curry base. Don't add water.
  • Add the sugar. Taste and decide if you want it sweeter. Creep up on it. You can add sugar. You cannot take it away.
  • 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.
  • Garnish with a bit of chopped fresh cilantro if desired and serve with rice or Indian flatbread.


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.


Serving: 2servings | Calories: 651kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 47g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 119mg | Sodium: 962mg | Potassium: 552mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1095IU | Vitamin C: 3.7mg | Calcium: 78mg | Iron: 2.9mg

50 thoughts on “shahi chicken korma”

  1. 5 stars
    A truly outstanding korma Romain! Delicious!

    In step 16, I don’t think you really mean “Garnish with a bit of chopped fresh saffron if desired” do you? Some fresh coriander leaves maybe, but I don’t think fresh saffron is a thing.

  2. When pre cooking meat for the Korma it says I’m the notes to use a bit of curry powder and chicken stock, how much measurement wise do you use?

    Every recipe you’ve posted has been amazing, really trying to mail this one! Also, any chance you’ll be posting any pakora recipes? Thanks in advance!

    • Haha. I don’t actually measure for this. A rough teaspoon of curry powder and enough chicken stock to cover. And too much salt.

      Pakoras is one I’ve never really thought about doing but I will see if I can come up with a glebekitchen twist.

  3. Hi, I am making this next week for a family member who doesnt like any heat at all – what is the best approach to the chilli powder? I’m guessing leave it out but is there a better approach than that because i dont want to take away from the flavour

    • That’s a tough one. Maybe a good quality paprika? There’s a lot of kashmiri chili powder in this one – it is a big part of the flavour…

  4. Hi, Should I crush the cinnamon stick and open the cardamon pods? If so any tips on how to retrieve the cinnamon shards before serving? thanks, love your site.

  5. Hi Romain! First of all I wanted to say how much your recipes have inspired me to take on challenging Indian dishes so thank you for all your hard work!!!

    Forgive me for the off-topic comment (just commenting here as I’m making this tomorrow) but I was wondering if you’ve got a recipe for a chicken chasni up your sleeve? It’s a Glaswegian Indian restaurant staple. Sweet and sour. Not sure if it’s really available outside of Scotland but I figured if anywhere might have it Canada would because of the strong Scottish culture and roots! It’s such a great curry and there are a few recipes online but I don’t trust anyone but you for my curry recipes these days hahaha


    • You are very welcome. I’m delighted you are enjoying the recipes!

      Afraid I don’t have a chasni recipe though. Sorry. If I ever manage to get back to Glasgow I’ll try one and then give it a go.

  6. Hi, I just learned about and have been enjoying Shahi Paneer (my local restaurant grates the paneer as opposed to cubing). I was wondering if you had any tips for making this dish using this recipe as a base. I can’t wait to make this! Thanks so much!

    • For paneer I would simply add the paneer in to warm through at the very end. I’ve only done this with cubed paneer so I’m not entirely sure what to do with grated paneer. Either way this would be one seriously rich dish.

  7. 5 stars
    Hi Romain,

    I made three versions of this so far

    1. With no chilli powder using chickpeas when my Mother came – she’s not a curry person and loved it.
    2. With the full chilli powder and chickpeas for my Mother-in-law who added mango chutney as it was a little too hot but she loved it
    3. Tonight with the full chilli powder and butternut squash – Wife and Mother-in-Law loved it.

    I prefer the full chilli with chickpeas but am out-voted by the women…

  8. I recently had my first lamb Pathia at a restaurant in Oxford. I loved it and decided to look up the recipe. Google lead me to Glebe and I decided to give it a go. Having made the base curry, I decided that I could use it for an alternative. My wife isn’t keen on hot Indian food so I checked for a milder dish and chose this Korma to serve alongside the Pathia. It was a late decision and I didn’t have any almond flour so used coconut flour instead along with ground almond. The result was a little grainy but still the best Korma I’ve made at home. I followed both recipes but did have to reduce the dish for longer than the recommended 5 minutes. The Pathia was superb by the way. Really happy with it.
    The Korma was at the extreme of tolerable spice level for my wife but I loved it. Next time I’ll ensure that I have all the ingredients.
    Do you have tips for a milder ( sacrilege I know) version. Would you recommend butter chicken for my spice averse wife?

    • Haha. This korma is more aligned with the classic Indian dish than the bland versions you see in restaurants. That said, you could cut the Kashmiri chili powder in half. That should bring it down to your wife’s preference.

      If you need to reduce for more than 5 minutes and you are using the glebekitchen restaurant curry base (undiluted) then I suspect you could push the frying of the base a little harder. Something to think about anyway.

      For butter chicken I strongly recommend the hotel style butter chicken here on the blog. I am getting very positive feedback on the recipe. Hope your wife likes it!

  9. 5 stars
    Im not a fan of korma but I read through your recipe and decided to give it a go and Im so glad I did. No cloying sweetness yet all the delicious creamy coconut goodness was there and the touch of heat was a bonus. Today I also had my first attempt at making peshwari naan (daughter loves them) so those were served up along with pilau rice. You make everything so clear and simple in your recipes and success is always guaranteed. Thank you once again.

    • You are very welcome. I’m not a fan of the sickly sweet dish that passes for korma either. Great to hear you liked this version!

      Also, very impressed you made peshwari naan:-)

  10. Hi Romain

    Any reason why canned coconut milk could not be used in this recipe instead of powder? I’ve always found it pretty good.

    • No reason at all. I used the coconut milk powder in this recipe to save people from having most of a can of coconut milk left over. If you have a use for the extra canned is great. I do it all the time…

    • The spicing for hotel style recipes tend to be a bit different and the regular hotel style gravy is pretty strongly flavoured for this dish. If you follow the directions for one of the hotel style recipes (don’t pre-cook the chicken, adjust for liquid etc) you will get something pretty tasty. But it won’t be the same as this korma.

  11. Hi Romain,

    Your recipes are as delicious as ever. It goes without saying that I know if I follow a glebe kitchen recipe it’s gonna come out phenomenal. My family as usual cannot get enough and refuse to eat any other curry than yours.

    But I’m writing this because I thought I’d let you know prior to eating this curry, that my dad had long thought he did not like chicken korma because he had never tried one he actually liked. Well that all changed once he tried this one. And he loved it of course.

    In fact he literally said “I’ve never had a korma I liked until I tried this one!” So it just confirmed my thought that the only reason he disliked prior to this one was because he’d never had one that was good enough.

    And if anyone is reading these comments, trying to decide whether this or any other recipe on here is worth it, I say a resounding absolutely yes. I mean it shouldn’t even be a question. My life has been transformed since the amazing day I found your website. I am not joking. And not even just Indian, I’ve also tried the pad Thai and that was great. My family loved it, too.

    This guys techniques are genius, and once you try it you literally won’t want to go to any other website or any other take away restaurant. And you should trust me when I say this because I’ve been using this guys recipes for over a year, and I’ve cooked countless ones, and I’ve left many a review (but not every time).

    Anyways, this is really long so just again extending my thanks for imparting your culinary wisdom onto us.

    – John

    • What an awesome comment! Thank you for taking the time to write it! Hope you find lots more to keep you going in the kitchen.

      Tell your dad I don’t much care for the sweet “korma” at all either – which is exactly why I came up with this version. Delighted he liked it:-).

  12. 5 stars
    Made this fantastic korma and your butter chicken tonight and they were a hit with the family! Loving this style of cooking Indian food, so much fun!
    Thanks for sharing your techniques. Can’t wait to try the next recipe.

  13. Hi Romain
    made this last week and it was great.. only comment was it was consistency was a bit floury…so i need to understand what i did wrong… any tips appreciated… making tomorrow again.


    • I can think of two things. Sometimes, if my coconut milk powder is getting old it doesn’t dissolve really well. I’d call that more gritty than floury though. That leaves the almond flour. I use Bob’s Red Mill super fine almond flour. It is 100 percent almonds that are “stone ground” if the packaging is to be believed.

    • 5 stars
      thanks Romain…. gritty that’s the right word… will look for Bob’s Red Mill.
      tried many of your recipes over the months now – entertained many times serving different dishes and the compliments have been great…. so just want to say thanks for sharing totally appreciated!!

  14. 5 stars
    I’m wanting to make this for my 7 and 4 1/2 year old.
    Would leaving out the chilli be better for them as I don’t think they will eat anything spicy?

  15. Hi Romain.
    This could be a much better option for me having been so far less than impressed in the BIR Korma I’ve tried so far. The Korma I like is not at all sugary sweet and certainly not bland. I’ll be giving your recipe a try. Do you know anything about “White Korma”? I once had one that was delicious but have been unable to get even close.

    Cheers from Oz

    • Nice to see you here Greg.

      If I was unsubtle (I know I wasn’t) I am not a fan of what passes for korma in the UK these days. This recipe is about getting back to roots of korma. I don’t chase UK style curries FWIW. I am about making the best dishes (Indian or otherwise) I possible can without concerning myself too much about convention.

      Never even heard about white korma I’m afraid…

  16. 5 stars
    I have cooked this 3 times now with variations each time, it’s a truly excellent recipe! I used whole almonds, blanched, dried, ground in coffee grinder and dried some more & that worked perfectly.

    I tried dried (unsweetened desiccated) coconut and again ground it to make it a little finer, that worked fine, gave it a very slight gritty texture, quite pleasant. Coconut cream or milk also works well but it removes some texture from the sauce.

    My wife doesn’t like spicy so I reduced the kashmiri chilli in the spice mix to 1/2 tsp and added 1 tsp paprika – better for her but not for me, I like the spicier version 🙂 But for those nations who “don’t like spicy”, that ratio works 🙂

    I don’t have kosher salt but used table salt at 50% of the recommended amount. Kosher salt is on my shopping list for next time.

    We found 1/2 tsp of sugar with just under 1 tbsp of cream gave it the sweet rich edge we recognised from restaurant kormas without making it a sugary creamy mess!

    Awesome recipe, thanks!

    • What an awesome comment. Thank you!

      I love that you are mixing it up and making it your own. These are all great ideas.

    • Unfortunately that doesn’t work. It winds up being too much stuff in the pan so the curry base doesn’t caramelize properly. Best to cook one batch. Put it in a bowl. Cook a second batch, return the first batch to the pan and warm both batches up together. Restaurant style curries heat up nicely.

  17. Hello, I’m dying to make this but I don’t have coconut milk powder. I have coconut flour – would that be a 1:1 equivalent or is coconut flour drier than the milk powder? Thanks!

    • I would swap out some canned coconut milk before I tried coconut flour. I have heard the flour makes the texture gritty although I have never personally tried.

  18. 5 stars
    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?

    • Garry – that’s great to hear. I do like a little bit of kick in my Korma and I’m glad you do too.

  19. 5 stars
    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!

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