Chicken Korma – Instant Pot | Stove

January 11, 2020 (Updated: January 13, 2020) By Aneesha |

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Chicken Korma is a mildly spiced Indian chicken curry known for it’s creamy smooth sauce. In this easy Instant Pot recipe, chicken is simmered in a coconut milk based curry seasoned with aromatic spices. A neat trick to cook pot-in-pot cumin rice will have dinner on the table in 30 minutes!

instant pot chicken korma with cumin rice in black bowl with fresh cilantro

Chicken korma is one of my favorite Indian dishes. It’s flavorful, vibrant and different from the other curries. You won’t find any Indian restaurant that doesn’t serve this delicacy.

My Dad used to make the BEST Korma ever, so I grew up eating it often. And now my girls simply can’t get enough! Every once in a while over a weekend, they’ll make it all by themselves using this recipe. #onehappymom

A Complete Indian Meal in 30 Minutes!

I love to make Chicken Korma in the Instant Pot since I can cook cumin rice along with chicken in the same pot using the pot-in-pot method! Korma turns out great on the stove too, but that method requires a little babysitting, which is why I prefer to pressure cook it. That being said, I’ve included a detailed stove-top recipe too.

I make a quick side of Cucumber Raita (Yogurt dip) while the chicken is cooking, and in just 30 minutes, my family sits down for this delicious Indian meal! And the big plus, there’s only pot to wash. Total Win-Win!!

instant pot chicken korma with cumin rice in black bowl with fresh cilantro

What Is Chicken Korma

Chicken Korma is a mild and fragrant Indian chicken curry. It’s one of the most popular dishes in Indian cuisine and definitely a staple in Indian restaurants. Korma can be made with either meat or vegetables.

The beauty of korma is its velvety smooth sauce which is accomplished by adding yogurt, cream or a nut paste, usually made from cashews or almonds.

All you need is a few readily available ingredients, including onions, garlic, ginger, fresh pureed tomato, coconut milk, turmeric, Kashmiri chili powder, garam masala and ground coriander. All are gluten-free and dairy-free.

It’s super easy to transform Chicken Korma into a 100% vegetarian or vegan meal, too. Simply replace the chicken with an equal amount of cubed paneer or tofu to ensure you still get adequate protein.

Different Variations of Korma

As is typical for most popular Indian curries, regional and personal influences are huge, which is why you see so many variations of Korma. In the north, commonly a nut paste or yogurt is used in the curry, and southern inspired recipes use coconut milk or cream.

You’ll find another variation called Shahi Korma, which is enriched further by adding raisins and fried cashews and almonds.

What Is The Difference Between Chicken Korma and Butter Chicken

There is a lot of confusion about the difference between Chicken Korma and Butter Chicken because the base of spices, garlic and ginger are just about the same. Here is the easiest way to distinguish the two:

Korma is a cream or nut-based sauce. This is the main flavor profile of any korma recipe. A very small quantity of tomato is added for acidity, to cut through the creaminess.

Butter chicken on the other hand is made with a tomato based sauce to which cream is added. The flavor is sweeter, mostly due to the inclusion of cream and butter, and milder in flavor.

Here’s an easy recipe for Restaurant Style Butter Chicken, and this quicker Weeknight Butter Chicken.

Chicken Korma vs Tikka Masala

There is also a common assumption that korma and tikka masala are pretty much the same. This article offers a detailed explanation of the distinction between Indian dishes, but to break down the two main ones:

Korma, as we discussed, is a cream, yogurt or nut-based sauce, which is what gives this dish it’s iconic rich sauce.

Tikka Masala is actually more British than Indian (it is considered the national dish of England). The dish is made with tandoori chicken, which is chicken that has been marinated in seasoned yogurt and cooked in a tandoor, or clay oven. The meat is then finished in an onion, tomato and cream (or yogurt) based sauce.

Here’s a one-pot recipe for Chicken Tikka Masala.

Does Chicken Korma have nuts

Some recipes include nuts, but not all. The creaminess of a Korma curry comes from adding either yogurt, or cream (dairy or coconut), or a nut paste made with either cashews or almonds. Sometimes a combination of nuts and cream is used.

Ingredients for Chicken Korma

Indian spices in metal bowls, can of coconut milk, rice, packaged chicken thighs, Instant Pot

This irresistible one-pot meal is packed with healthy and flavorful ingredients that you can find in your local Indian food market, or in the global section of the grocery store. Here’s what we need:

  • Aromatics: Along with garlic and ginger, I like to add onions and green chili (either serrano or jalapeno will do). De-seed chili for milder flavor.
  • Tomato Puree: I prefer to use fresh Roma tomato and simply puree it in my food processor. If tomatoes are not in season, or they just don’t look good at the store that day, you can substitute 1 Tablespoon tomato paste instead.
  • Coconut Milk: This recipe is inspired by a southern Indian style of korma, called Kurma.  Adding coconut milk makes it dairy-free too. Make sure to use full-fat coconut milk, not cream of coconut. You will only need about half the can, so store the remainder in an airtight container in the fridge and save for another use. Alternatively, 1/2 cup of plain full-fat or greek yogurt can be used.
  • Chicken: I like using boneless skinless chicken thighs in this recipe as they turn out juicy and moist every time. To control the amount of fat, trim off the excess. But if chicken breast is your preference, simply cut it into 2 1/2 inch pieces to ensure they cook evenly.
  • Spices: This easy combination of Indian spices is what takes this homemade chicken korma recipe to another level.
    • Salt
    • Turmeric
    • Kashmiri Red Chili Powder (see note below)
    • Garam Masala
    • Ground Coriander
  • Cumin Rice: The classic side dish that soaks up all those wonderful juices. Bonus tips for making basmati rice perfect every time:
    • Rinse the rice to rid of excess starch, which can make your rice sticky. It also makes it easier for the salt to absorb into the rice grains.
    • Prior to cooking, soak for 15 minutes. Soaking in room temperature water helps the rice absorb some of the liquid, therefore shortening the cooking time and preserving the flavor.
  • Garnish: Chopped cilantro + a few drops fresh lime juice

What Is Kashmiri Chili Powder?

Kashmiri chili powder is made from a vibrantly red chili that is mild in spice and full-flavored (so think more of a warm chili flavor rather than spicy). It’s very popular in Indian cuisine and it imparts more color than it does heat.

If you can’t find Kashmiri chili powder in your grocery store, it’s easily available on Amazon. You can also substitute it with paprika + cayenne. For 1 tsp of Kashmiri red chili, add 1 teaspoon Paprika (not smoked) + 1/4 teaspoon cayenne.

How To Make Chicken Korma in Instant Pot

Prep

  • If making cumin rice, rinse and soak for 15 minutes while you prepare the remaining ingredients and start the sauce.
  • Chop the onion, cut the top off the green chile (remove the seeds if you would like it less spicy), grate the garlic and ginger and puree the fresh tomato in your food processor. Trim off any excess fat from the chicken thighs and cut in half (if using chicken breasts, cut into 2 1/2 inch pieces).

Saute & Pressure Cook

  • Turn the Instant Pot on to Saute HIGH. Cook the onions and green chili for 2 minutes, then add the garlic, ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt and saute another minute. (pic 1 & 2)
  • Add pureed tomato (or tomato paste) and all spices. Cook for 30 seconds. (pic 3 & 4)
sauteed onions in Instant Pot, garlic and ginger in white bowl, tomato puree in glass bowl, Indian spices in white bowl
  • Add coconut milk and prepared chicken. (At this point, if you are not making rice, seal the lid, turn off saute and pressure cook for 6 minutes on HIGH. Skip the next step.) (pic 5 & 6)
  • Add the now rinsed and soaked rice to an oven-safe bowl that can fit into the bowl of your Instant Pot. Add water, cumin seeds, salt and olive oil and stir. Place the trivet inside the Instant Pot over the chicken korma and rest the bowl of rice on top. Seal, turn off saute and pressure cook for 6 minutes on HIGH. (pic 7 & 8)
coconut milk in measuring cup, chicken korma in Instant Pot, trivet in Instant Pot, cumin rice in glass bowl

After Pressure Cooking

  • Once pressure cooking is complete, wait 10 minutes and then release pressure manually by turning the pressure knob to venting position in Duo, or pushing down knob in Ultra. Open lid after pin drops. (pic 9)
  • Remove rice bowl and using a fork gently fluff the rice. Set aside. (pic 10)
  • Remove trivet. Garnish the chicken korma with green cardamom powder, chopped cilantro and a few drops of fresh lime juice. Serve warm with cumin rice! (pic 11 & 12)
hand sealing Instant Pot, cooked cumin rice in glass bowl, Instant Pot chicken korma, korma garnished with cilantro with black spoon

How To Make Chicken Korma on the Stovetop

  1. Heat a heavy bottom stockpot or dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add olive oil, chopped onion and green chili. Saute for 2 mins. Add crushed ginger and garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and saute another 1 minute. The salt helps the onions soften and cook faster.
  2. Add pureed tomato, or tomato paste, and all spices including salt, turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala and coriander. Saute for 30 seconds.
  3. Add coconut milk and chicken pieces, bring it to a simmer and cover the pot. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 15 mins, or until the chicken is cooked through and fork-tender. See notes for coconut milk alternative in the recipe card.
  4. Garnish with green cardamom powder, chopped cilantro and a few drops of fresh lime juice. Serve warm with cumin rice!
chicken korma with cumin rice in black bowl with fresh cilantro and chicken korma in pot on side

Chicken Korma with Yogurt

You can use yogurt instead of coconut milk in this recipe, add that AFTER pressure cooking though.  Here’s how:

  1. Follow the recipe and skip the coconut milk.  Add 1/2 cup water instead to cook the chicken. Pressure cook and wait 10 mins before releasing pressure.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup plain full-fat or greek yogurt, and whisk it till smooth.  
  3. Now take a ladle (2-3 tablespoons) of the hot curry sauce and mix it in to temper the yogurt.  
  4. Add that yogurt-curry mix in the curry while stirring.  This prevents the yogurt from curdling and results in a smooth sauce.
  5. Turn on Saute and simmer for 2-3 minutes till the yogurt gets incorporated in the curry.

How to Have a Low Carb Meal with Chicken Korma

Skip the basmati rice and pair Chicken Korma with sautéed cauliflower rice to enjoy a comforting and satisfying Low carb/Keto meal.

Each serving of Chicken Korma is about 4-5 grams of net carbs. I serve chicken with 2/3 cup of cauliflower rice (Trader Joe’s brand), which is about 2 grams of net carbs, which makes the total net carbs for this meal to about 7 grams.

Recipe Tips for Chicken Korma

  • If you want a milder chicken korma, remove the seeds and ribs from the green chile. That is where all the heat lies.
  • If you don’t like coconut milk, you can use yogurt instead. Follow the directions for a coconut milk alternative in the recipe card below.
  • If you prefer a thicker curry, once the chicken korma is completely cooked, turn on Saute and simmer 2-3 minutes until it reaches your desired consistency. Please keep in mind that the korma thickens more as it cools.
  • For best results and moister chicken, use boneless skinless chicken thighs.
  • This curry is best served warm, right from the Instant Pot. As noted above, the sauce will thicken as it cools. To reheat, add about 2 tablespoons water and warm through.
  • For a Keto or low-carb meal, serve with steamed or sautéed Cauli rice (shredded cauliflower rice).
  • This recipe has been tested in a 3qt & 6 qt Instant Pot and Mealthy Multipot. If using an 8qt, add an additional 1/2 cup liquid to meet the minimum liquid requirement. After pressure cooking, saute a few minutes to reduce the sauce to your preference.
  • For a low-carb meal, serve chicken with Cauliflower rice. See instructions and details for that above.

More Korma Variations On The Blog

More Popular Indian Dishes From My Kitchen

★ Did you make this recipe? Please give it a star rating below! For more quick & easy recipes, FOLLOW ME on Facebook, Instagram,  Pinterest and Youtube.

instant pot chicken korma with cumin rice in black bowl with fresh cilantro

Chicken Korma- Instant Pot | Stove

Chicken Korma, a mildly spiced Indian Chicken curry made by simmering chicken with floral Indian spices and creamy coconut milk. It's an easy one-pot meal with cumin rice cooked right alongside, ready in 30-minutes!
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes
NPR: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 236kcal
Author: Aneesha

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup onion finely chopped, about 1 medium onion
  • 1 green chili serrano or jalapeno, trim the top off (deseed to make it milder)
  • 1 tbsp ginger crushed or grated
  • 1 tbsp garlic crushed or grated
  • 1/4 cup tomato pureed (about 1 large roma tomato), or 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (or yogurt- see notes for details)
  • 1.5 lbs chicken boneless skinless thighs (Check notes for chicken breast)

Spices

Pot-in-Pot Cumin Rice

Garnish

Equipment

Instructions

Prep

  • If cooking rice along with korma, wash rice and soak for 15 minutes while you prep the ingredients and get the sauce started.
  • Finely chop onions, crush or grate ginger and garlic. Puree 1 tomato in a food processor (skip is using tomato paste instead).
  • Trim excess fat off chicken thighs and cut them in half. If using chicken breast, cut in 2.5 inch pieces.

Instant Pot Chicken Korma

  • Turn on Saute high. Add olive oil, chopped onion and green chili. Saute for 2 mins.
  • Add crushed ginger and garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and saute another 1 minute. The salt helps the onions soften and cook faster.
  • Add pureed tomato, or tomato paste and all spices including salt, turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala and coriander. Saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add coconut milk and chicken pieces, stir to combine. If cooking rice, move on to the next step. If not, close the lid, turn off saute and pressure cook for 6 mins at high pressure.

Pot-in-Pot Cumin Rice

  • Rinse rice and add to any oven safe bowl that can fit in your pressure cooker easily. Add water, cumin seeds, salt and olive oil. Stir to combine.
  • Add a metal trivet in the cooking pot, over the chicken. Add rice bowl on top. Close lid. Turn off saute and pressure cook for 6 mins at high pressure.

After Pressure cooking

  • Wait 10 minutes and then release pressure manually by turning the pressure knob to venting position in Duo, or pushing down knob in Ultra. Open lid after pin drops.
  • Remove rice bowl and using a fork, gently fluff the rice. Set aside. Remove trivet.
  • If you prefer a thicker curry, turn on saute and simmer 2-3 minutes till it reaches your desired consistency. Please keep in mind that the curry thickens more as it cools.
  • Garnish with green cardamom powder, chopped cilantro and a few drops of fresh lime juice. Serve warm with cumin rice! For a Keto meal, serve with steamed or sautéed Cauli rice (shredded cauliflower rice).

Stove-Top Method

  • Heat a heavy bottom stock pot or dutch oven on medium-high heat.
  • Add olive oil, chopped onion and green chili. Saute for 2 mins.
  • Add crushed ginger and garlic, 1/2 tsp salt and saute another 1 minute. The salt helps the onions soften and cook faster.
  • Add pureed tomato, or tomato paste and all spices including salt, turmeric, red chili powder, garam masala and coriander. Saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add coconut milk or if using yogurt, add water, and chicken pieces, bring it to a simmer, cover the pot. Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 15 mins, or until the chicken is cooked through and fork tender.
  • If you prefer a thicker curry, simmer an additional 2-3 minutes, uncovered, till it reaches your desired consistency. Please keep in mind that the curry thickens more as it cools.
  • Garnish with green cardamom powder, chopped cilantro and a few drops of fresh lime juice. Serve warm with cumin rice! For a Keto meal, serve with steamed or sautéed Cauli rice (shredded cauliflower rice).

Video

Notes

Coconut Milk Alternative: You can use yogurt instead, add that AFTER pressure cooking though.  Here’s how:
  1. Follow the recipe and skip the coconut milk.  Add 1/2 cup water instead to cook the chicken. Pressure cook and wait 10 mins before releasing pressure.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, add 1/2 cup plain full-fat or greek yogurt, and whisk it till smooth.  
  3. Now take a ladle (2-3 tablespoons) of the hot curry sauce and mix it in to temper the yogurt.  
  4. Add that yogurt-curry mix in the curry while stirring.  This prevents the yogurt from curdling and results in a smooth sauce.
  5. Turn on Saute and simmer for 2-3 minutes till the yogurt gets incorporated in the curry.
Recipe Tips for Chicken Korma:
  • If you want a milder chicken korma, remove the seeds and ribs from the green chile. That is where all the heat lies.
  • If you don’t like coconut milk, you can use yogurt instead. Follow the directions for a coconut milk alternative in the recipe card below.
  • If you prefer a thicker curry, once the chicken korma is completely cooked, turn on Saute and simmer 2-3 minutes until it reaches your desired consistency. Please keep in mind that the korma thickens more as it cools.
  • For best results and moister chicken, use dark meat chicken thighs.
  • This Indian dish is best served warm, right from the Instant Pot. As noted above, the sauce will thicken as it cools. To reheat, add 1-2 Tablespoons water and warm through.
  • For a Keto meal, serve with steamed or sautéed Cauli rice (shredded cauliflower rice).
  • This recipe has been tested in a 3qt & 6 qt Instant Pot and Mealthy Multipot. If using an 8qt, add an additional 1/2 cup liquid to meet the minimum liquid requirement. After pressure cooking, saute a few minutes to reduce the sauce to your preference.
  • For a low-carb meal, serve chicken with Cauliflower rice. See instructions and details for that above.
If you are new to the Instant Pot, please read my FAQ on Instant Pot Terminology and Accessories to learn more.
Note: The nutrition facts below are my estimates and do not include the optional rice.  If you are following any diet plan, I recommend cross-checking with your preferred nutrition calculator.

Nutrition

Calories: 236kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 457mg | Potassium: 234mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 230IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: Chicken Korma, Chicken Korma Stovetop, Instant Pot Chicken Korma
Did you try this recipe?Mention @SpiceCravings or tag #spicecravings!

HEY! NICE TO MEET YOU!

Aneesha holding a glass of white wine Hi, I'm Aneesha, a foodie by birth and the mind, body and soul behind Spice Cravings. Here I share quick, easy & healthy Indian & global recipes that are low in effort and big on taste! A recipe doesn't make it on the blog unless it is tested multiple times and gets a thumbs-up from my taster-in-chief, my husband, and my teen-chefs, my twin girls!

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