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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4.75 from 8 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 saffron 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


19 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?

  3. 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.

    • 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.

  4. Made the korma last night using your restaurant cooking technique. Another A+ winner! Thank you for the clear instructions.

  5. 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.

  6. 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…

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