Cooking | Ishrat Aunties Chicken Korma … simple finger licking good curry

Proust had his madeleines, I am devastated by the smell of onions frying in butter!

Chicken korma 2Chicken Korma … simple, flavourful and just the kind of thing I’ve missed sharing here for a bit. It’s been some time since I blogged a curry on PAB. Feels like a wonderful new beginning. My sis in Houston shared the recipe with me a few years ago. It comes from an old family friend’s repertoire. Everyone who digs into it requests her for the recipe, as my sis did too. We’ve shared it,  swapped it, minimally adapted it to suit our palette.

Chicken korma Like all cooking, use this as a springboard. Make it just as is and enjoy it. Then play around and customise it if you like. Kormas are gently spiced and slightly rich. With roots in the Mughlai cuisine, this meat based curry dish often has yogurt, maybe a seed and nut paste, and a few gentle spices. Oh yes some red chili too.

Fried Onions for Korma The yogurt is traditionally slow cooked so that it doesn’t curdle. It acts as a tenderiser as well as contributing to a nice thick slightly piquant gravy. The colour of the curry comes from the fried red onions … the star of the show IMHO. They lift this korma to new delicious levels, giving it a rich colour and moorish flavour.

Chicken kormaAnother tip that the aunt uses is to sift the coriander powder instead of just throwing it in. Maybe it lightens the powder for better distribution or something. I also like that the recipe uses staple pantry ingredients. Try this very simple traditional Chicken Korma, mopping it up with some yeasted whole wheat rotis/flatbread or over basmati rice. If parathas are your calling, go right ahead!

Mutton KormaYou could also try a similar korma with lamb. The cooking time will wary of course but the basic recipe will be quite the same. For lamb, you could consider marinating the mutton in yogurt paste for a few hours, then cooking on dum/simmer until done. Kormas like these are integral parts on Lucknowi cuisine, the city of my mothers birth. Kebabs, curries, kormas, biryanis all form part of their rich Awadhi cuisine.

LucknowThis particular one is as simple as it gets. It’s one I make often. Today I made a Chicken Ishtoo, Al-Jawahar style {an eatery in Old Delhi} from a recipe on Sangeeta’s blog. That turned out finger licking good too. So many curries, so little time, but will share that one day soon!


Recipe: Ishrat Aunties Chicken Korma your picture

Summary: Almost every Indian household has there own recipe, and this chicken korma / curry recipe comes from my mother’s childhood friend from Meerut. It’s simple, uses staple pantry ingredients…and leaves you wanting for more!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour Ingredients:

  • 800gm chicken on the bone, cut into pieces
  • 1/3 cup ghee
  • 3 onions, finely sliced {about 200gms}
  • 5-6 choti elaichi / green cardamom {slightly crushed}
  • 5-6 long / whole cloves
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garlic paste
  • 200g yogurt, whipped
  • 4 tsp coriander powder, sifted
  • 1 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  • Salt to taste


  1. Heat ghee and oil in a wok and fry the onions in it till golden brown. {Take care not to let the onions turn too dark, else the korma will be slightly bitter}.  Drain the onions from the oil and cool. Then grind to a paste using 1-2 tbsp of the yogurt. Whisk the paste into the yogurt. Reserve.
  2. In the same wok with the remaining oil, add the choti elaichi / green cardamoms and long / cloves and saute till they smell fragrant, 1-2 minutes. {Add a little more oil if required}
  3. Now add the chicken pieces and roast on high heat till nicely seared and golden. Remove from oil and reserve in bowl.
  4. To the hot oil add the sifted coriander powder, the red chili powder, the ginger and garlic paste and mix well so that it all comes together, 1-2 minutes. Now add the chicken back to the wok and give it a good stir for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Now add the fried onion-yogurt mixture, stir well, season with salt, and cook covered on simmer for about 20 minutes. Now the gravy should be fragrant and beautifully coloured. Add a little water if you need to increase the gravy, taste and adjust salt if required. Allow to sit for 30 minutes before serving to allow the flavours to mature. Sprinkle a little garam masala if you like and serve with whole wheat rotis, parathas or basmati rice.


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About me: I am a freelance food writer, recipe developer and photographer. Food is my passion - baking, cooking, developing recipes, making recipes healthier, using fresh seasonal produce and local products, keeping a check on my carbon footprint and being a responsible foodie! I enjoy food styling, food photography, recipe development and product reviews. I express this through my food photographs which I style and the recipes I blog. My strength lies in 'Doing Food From Scratch'; it must taste as good as it looks, and be healthy too. Baking in India, often my biggest challenge is the non-availability of baking ingredients, and this has now become a platform to get creative on. I enjoy cooking immensely as well.


  • 2 years ago

    It sounds amazing Deeba, thanks to your friend who was willing to share the recipe. You can tell you have teens in the house IMHO.
    belllini´s last blog post ..Lobster Roll with Shaved Fennel and Citrus for the Virtual Supper ClubMy Profile

  • Trust you to come up with this delectable korma recipe just when mom has imposed a pure-veg diktat for the month of Shravan!! :)) and just because I cant have this.. I want to have it NOW with some hot, crisp parathas!!! anyhow, absolutely gorgeous pics!!
    Sarvani (baker in disguise)´s last blog post ..Sticky Toffee PuddingMy Profile

  • 2 years ago

    I generally go wrong in frying the onions. Your bowl of fried onions looks perfect. I cannot wait to try this delectable curry for my family!
    uma´s last blog post ..Eggless Whole Wheat Coconut and Dry Fruit CookiesMy Profile

  • 2 years ago

    beautiful flavors and lovely lovely pictures. I am going to try this qorma for sure. More qorma recipes always welcome :-)
    sangeeta khanna´s last blog post ..Ragi and whole wheat bread and a desi burger …My Profile

  • 2 years ago

    Hi Deeba,i hail from Lucknow,Awadhi non veg cuisines are a general favourite.Going through this article is like enjoying navabi city and awadhi recipe together!

    • 2 years ago

      Thank you for stopping by Sangeeta. Must check you blog!

  • 2 years ago

    A mouthwatering curry! What splendid flavors.

    Your pictures always make me travel virtually – an escape from my boring reality. :-)



  • 2 years ago

    Oh my word those onions look amazing. Could eat that whole bowl now

  • bhavanahr
    2 years ago

    HI Deeba,

    The curry looks positively yum… I want to try this out. Could you please let me know what you mean by ‘add the “chain-like pieces”. I think that ingredient is missing from the list also the oil measurement.


    • 2 years ago

      Auto spell check never helps Bhavna. Sorry. Have corrected it to chicken pieces. Thank you for letting me know. Oil r ghee as in this case is the second ingredient 1/3 cup ghee. You might need a little extra oil/ghee as you go along. Eyeballing is what works best with Indian cooking.

  • bhavanahr
    2 years ago

    thanks a ton for replying! :)… will surely try this soon. Your recipes are always spot on. much love!

  • 6 months ago

    Gosh! This is so alluring and tempting. Firstly, I don’t know what had I typed on Google search and in images I found one of the recipe made by you and it’s been more than half an hour… I am here only. Stunning photography, amazing recipes and wonderful approach by attaching stories. Thanks for sharing all the wonders Deeba :) Super glad to be here.
    Tara Nair´s last blog post ..Blog ApologyMy Profile

    • 6 months ago

      Thank you for those wonderful words Tara. You made my day!

  • AsraAfreen
    5 months ago

    Tasty !!! korma….

  • Rufus john
    5 months ago

    Simple recipe.prepared it today was tasting awesome. Rufus john Goa

  • 5 months ago

    It turned out fantastic. I guess all bcos I did not screw up the onions. I was thrilled with myself as I am still learning to cook. I will try the others for sure. I also found your instructions easy to follow and spot on.

  • Lisa
    4 months ago

    Question – I noticed that the recipe uses whole cloves. Don’t you have to take those out before eating? Or did you mean ground cloves?

    • 4 months ago

      Hi Lisa, are you referring to the garlic cloves? They are minced. Let me go back and check in any case.

      • Lisa
        4 months ago

        It just says 5-6 long/whole cloves. It doesn’t say garlic cloves. Then further down it says to add garlic paste, so I thought you were using clove to spice the sauce.

        • 4 months ago

          Ooops my fault. Sorry! I looked at the last ‘kofta’ recipe I posted instead of this one. :-(.
          Yes whole cloves to flavour the oil. We normally let them stay in the gravy {sauce}. You could pick them out and discard before serving if you like.

          • Lisa
            4 months ago

            Ok thanks!

  • 2 months ago

    Chicken korma is very good recipe good food sir ji

  • Neha Joshi
    1 month ago

    Hi Deeba,

    This is an amazing recipe and it’s been a super hit with my family! I love how simple it is and there is little or no room for error. Thanks for sharing :)

    • 1 month ago

      Thank you so much Neha. Favourite here at home too

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