Chicken Korma: A delicious gift.

I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and working with a lovely young woman whose family is from Afghanistan.  Being the foodie I am, I inquired about the type of food her family enjoys and asked if she could bring a recipe for her favorite dish.  Based on her description, I knew it would be something I’d enjoy as well and couldn’t wait to see what recipe it would be.

A few weeks went by and I teased her with questions about where the recipe might be.  She is a busy college student, very close to finishing her degree, and so had to consult with her mother about my request.  I never once considered what I was really asking for, and am now a bit humbled by the experience.

I’ve mentioned that my mother made certain dishes in her own way, but I have no exact amounts of ingredients to pass along — only the memorized motions from numerous times I watched my mother and then began making dinner for my family myself while growing up.  I began to wonder how I’d feel if someone asked me for such a recipe.  What would I write without actually making it and writing down the steps? 

Early this last week, she handed me a print out of the recipe.  I was immediately excited because I’m hopeless when it comes to trying new recipes, let alone new cuisine.  It’s my favorite thing to do.  Giddy would describe my reaction quite well.  I read through the recipe while she was standing by in case I had questions, and took some notes along the way, mentally planning for when I’d prepare it.

Thursday it was.  Good thing I’d spoken to her, because my version of the "garlic paste" and "ginger paste" listed in the ingredients may not have matched hers.  To me, garlic paste is created when I sprinkle salt on minced garlic and work it through. And "rooster" hot sauce is not something I would have understood had I not asked, but vaguely recalled a very large bottle of hot sauce I’ve seen on the shelves at the grocery store with an image of a rooster on it.  Img_6834_2

Sheepish doesn’t quite describe how I feel right now, knowing
that this dish was most likely prepared and served just to ensure that
the recipe could be written down and given to me.  In spite of my incredible need to apologize for being so bold, I’m now just thankful that I had the opportunity to make this dish.  The entire time I read and chopped, and stirred, and simmered, I thought of family and how good food becomes a story that binds people together. 

What a lovely experience!

I’m going to write this recipe in a different way than I normally do with the original preceding my interpretation which is lighter in color and italicized.  Be careful not to count both in the total amount of ingredients!

Chicken Korma
Time to Cook:  approximately 1 hour.

Ingredients for 5-6
Chicken (combo)
    about 1-3/4 lbs. or 11 chicken drumettes from the wings
2 onions thinly sliced
1 large bell pepper, cut and quartered
    1 red pepper, seeded, and cut into large dice
1 medium potato, cut and quartered
    1 large russet, un-peeled and cut into large dice
2-1/2 T tomato paste
2-1/2 T vegetable oil
3/4 T curry powder
approximately 1/2 T curry powder (this is what she cautioned about using too much of and to taste it…)
1/2 T salt
1/2 T pepper
1 c. water


Pot or deep pan

Homemade sauce:  1 batch = 1 jar
Add all ingredients into blender until it has a "smoothie" consistency.

Garlic Paste – 1 batch
    1 entire head of garlic, peeled, about 2 oz.
Ginger Paste – 2-3
    same quantity of fresh ginger, peeled, about 2 oz.
1 lemon
    juice of one lemon

Salt & Pepper 1:1
season to taste
3-4 T "Rooster" Hot Sauce
1 T Tuong ot Sriracha
Rub the chicken with the homemade sauce and set prior to cooking.  (I left it sitting while I was preparing the chopped vegetables and the rice I served it with.

Img_6835 Img_6838

How To:

  1. Place a pot or deep pan on medium heat.  Add the vegetable oil
  2. When oil is heated, add the thinly sliced onions.  Stir evenly until golden brown.
  3. Once golden brown, add the sauced chicken.  Add the homemade sauce.  Stir evenly until all the sides of chicken are evenly heated and tough. (I browned the drumettes until a nice dark crust could be seen on the bottom of the pan.)
  4. Once everything is evenly heated, add the tomato paste, bell pepper, curry powder, salt, and pepper.
  5. Stir all ingredients together for about 5-10 minutes to get the spices and juices of the sauce, chicken, and vegetables to mix well together.
  6. Once mixed, add the potatoes and stir for 2-3 minutes.
  7. Finally, add a cup of water and stir evenly.
  8. Slowly simmer, cover, and stir the korma, on low heat until the potatoes are cooked.
  9. Ready to eat.  Yummy.


Notes: I used a food processor to puree the garlic and ginger which comes together quickly and smells heavenly!  She explained that the garlic paste and ginger paste be mixed in the same quantities, so that’s what I did.  I cut way back on the Rooster Sauce because my husband said he had to be able to eat it and although he does eat spicy food, I could tell that 3-4 T would be too much for both he and my son to handle.  My loss!  I chose a large, deep skillet for this dish to maximize the space on the bottom of the pan and did not cover it at any point in the cooking process.  Spend the extra time to get the onions nice and brown; they add such flavor to this dish.  Don’t overcook the potatoes as leaving them firm, but done adds a good texture — especially with the brown rice I served it with. Using the drumettes most likely cut down on the overall cooking time.  I could see that with using an entire chicken, or larger pieces, that a lid would be necessary and more time to ensure the chicken was done.  I’ll have to try that next time, and there will be a next time.


The aroma of this dish cooking almost from the start was beyond wonderful.  I truly enjoyed making it, and eating it.  I had more for lunch the next day, and it’s even better because all the flavors have had more time to blend.  I also added more of the Rooster Sauce to bump up the heat.  Totally delicious!


A bit of research:  As stated in wikipedia, Korma is generally characterized as a mild curry dish that originates from India and is usually made with yogurt or coconut milk. However, I did read a different reference that stated the foods of Northern India and Pakistan are actually influenced by that of Afghanistan, introduced to the area by a sultan sometime in the 900’s.  I am far from being a food historian, so I’m not sure how accurate this information is.  Korma is often made with chicken, beef, or lamb, and a small amount of vegetables such as potato or onion.  To give you an idea of how different the ingredients in Korma can be, I’m including a few different recipes I found as a comparison to this one if you’re interested.

Kofta Challow
Chicken Korma with Aniseed
Special Chicken Korma
Navratan Korma
Vegetable Korma

Or check out a variety of other recipes here.