British Indian Restaurant Style Chicken Korma

This chicken korma recipe is from Chai Wallah in Yarm!

Chai Wallah Chicken Korma

This is one of the best chicken kormas I’ve ever tried!

Many of you will know by now how much I love to learn new recipes from the experts. About a week ago I took some friends to one of my favourite Indian restaurants, Chai Wallah in Yarm. While there I approached the owner to see if he would teach me to make some of my favourite Chai Wallah curries. I am very happy to say that he agreed!

Chai Wallah curries are unique and exciting. This chicken korma is a lighter version of the creamy kormas you find at most restaurants. I like to make it quite spicy with lots of fresh chilies but kormas are usually mild. I’ll leave that one to you.

Slicing chicken

Chef slicing chicken at a diagonal. Very important for perfection.

I’ve simplified this recipe a little to make it easier for the home cook but the recipe still works very well. I’ve also changed the recipe ever so slightly. If you want the real Chai Wallah experience you’re just going to have to go there. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with my version.

It is important to cut the chicken breast pieces at an angle as shown. This takes a little more time but it will be worth the extra work.

Cooking chicken korma

Cooking the korma.

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A Lite Chicken Korma Recipe
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 to 6
The carrot puree asked for in this recipe is simply about half a carrot - finely cut - and then pureed with a little water in a food processor. I used CURRY GUY smoked garam masala and smoked spicy salt which went really well with this dish.
  • 4 chicken breasts - cut as pictured
  • 1 tablespoon ghee or vegetable oil
  • 20 curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 white onions finely chopped
  • 1 small fresh green chili (or more to taste) finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons carrot paste
  • 50g block cream coconut - chopped
  • 4 tablespoons low fat plain yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon onion seeds (Available from Asian markets)
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • 1 tablespoon rose water
  • Chopped coriander to garnish
  1. Heat the ghee or oil in a large pan over high heat.
  2. When hot, add the curry leaves, mustard seeds, cardamom pods, cinnamon and the cloves.
  3. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, throw in the chicken pieces and coat the meat in the oil/ghee.
  4. Now add the finely chopped onion and stir to combine.
  5. The onion will soften and begin to turn translucent. When this happens, add the fresh chili, garlic and carrot paste.
  6. Mix it all up and then add the garam masala, turmeric and bay leaves followed by just enough water to cover the meat.
  7. Place a lid over the curry and allow it to simmer away nicely for about ten minutes.
  8. After ten minutes, check your chicken korma. The water should have reduced by about half.
  9. Plop in the creamed coconut pieces and stir to combine. This will leave you with a somewhat thick curry sauce. You may want to add just a bit of water thought this korma is served quite dry at Chai Wallah and it is fantastic so!
  10. Add the yogurt one tablespoon at a time while stirring. If you add the yogurt too fast it may curdle so do it slowly.
  11. Cover the curry again and let it simmer down to your preferred thickness. Another five minutes or so should be just right.
  12. Add the sugar (if using) and salt and pepper to taste.
  13. Just before serving, pour in the rose water and sprinkle with the onion seeds and the chopped coriander.
  14. Enjoy!


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  1. Louise says

    Wow…..cooked this Chicken Korma last night and just had to finish it off for lunch today…..absolutely delicious. I love your website and will certainly be trying some of the other BIR curries.
    Thanks a lot Dan.
    best wishes

    • Dan Toombs says

      Thank you very much for your nice words Louise! I’m really glad you liked the recipe. Be sure to keep in touch.


  2. Richard says

    Hello Dan,
    This is a really interesting site, thanks for putting it together. Can you please kindly clarify something for me? Your Korma recipe calls for Onion seeds. There seems to be a lot of confusion as to whether Nigella Seeds and Onion Seeds are the same thing. Sainbury’s sells own brand “Nigella Seeds”, and Schwartz “Black Onion Seeds”. According to some, these should be a different product. Which am I looking for, and if the recipe does indeed call for the seeds of an onion, can these be omitted, as I don’t much like a strong onion flavour. Many thanks for reading, Richard

    • Dan Toombs says

      Hi Richard

      Nigella seeds are often referred to as onion seeds. They are black. Nigella seeds are what I use. Just leave them out if you don’t like the flavour. They are not actually onion seeds.


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