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What is Korma Sauce?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Korma sauce is a mild, creamy, curry sauce from Northern India. It has a very distinctive silky, rich flavor that many consumers find quite enjoyable, and variations on it can be found in many neighboring nations. Northern Indian restaurants around the world typically have a dish with this sauce on their menu; chicken korma is a common offering, and vegetarian korma may be available as well. Korma can also be easily made at home, for cooks who want to experiment with their own Indian food.

The base of this sauce is a mixture of yogurt, cream, and pureed nuts, blended with toasted spices. Ingredients can be marinated in the sauce before cooking, or slowly cooked in sauce so that they become infused with flavor. Both lamb and chicken are common pairings with korma in India, while Indian vegetarians may mix it with cauliflower, peas, potatoes, and an assortment of other vegetables.

Rice or breads like naan can be served with korma sauce. Both starchy sides will help to absorb the liquid, ensuring that the consumer sops up as much as possible while he or she eats. Naan can be used to scoop korma directly off the plate, while rice is generally layered under it. For an extra special korma dish, cooks may make saffron rice, or rice with a crunchy toasted layer on the bottom of the cooking pot, which is particularly prized at the dinner table.

To make a basic korma sauce, cooks should soak nuts such as almonds and cashews along with several crushed cardamom pods in water for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. They will then blend the soaked nuts with water and coconut milk for a vegan korma, or mix them with yogurt, milk, and white pepper. The blended mix should be set aside while the cook toasts ingredients such as minced garlic and ginger, saffron, and dried fruit, if desired, in oil. He or she will slowly add the creamy mixture, stirring carefully, and allow the sauce to simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Chefs can marinate ingredients in the finished sauce, if they desire. They can also start a fresh pan to sear ingredients like chicken, vegetables, or lamb, and pour the sauce over these ingredients for a long simmering, which will bring out the flavors. Korma sauce can also be stored in a jar in the refrigerator for several days if the cook wants to set up the ingredients for an Indian food party several days in advance.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a DelightedCooking researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By betterment — On Nov 28, 2012

@Ted41 - What a great idea! Making a meal for both vegetarians and carnivores can be a challenge. Making vegan korma sauce sounds like a great way to keep everyone happy. I have to admit I've only made it with milk, but I might try out the coconut milk version of this sauce sometime soon.

By Ted41 — On Nov 27, 2012

Korma cooking sauce is really great because you can make several different versions. As the article said, you can use coconut milk and make a vegan version of korma sauce and serve it over vegetables. Or you can use milk and serve it over chicken or lamb.

I have several vegetarian friends, and awhile ago I had friend over for dinner and made the vegan version of korma sauce. I served it with veggies for the vegetarians and with meat for the meat eaters. Everyone loved it and I didn't have to worry about making two different meals!

By indemnifyme — On Nov 26, 2012

@dautsun - One of my favorite things to do online is to look for new recipes. I found a really good Indian curry recipe online awhile back, and I've been thinking about trying out korma sauce. I think I'm going to use this article as a jumping off point and make some korma sauce tonight or tomorrow!

By dautsun — On Nov 25, 2012

@anon128675 - That's so nice that you're trying to learn a few recipes to help your future daughter-in-law and her parents feel at home! I can tell you that making korma chicken using a recipe like what's in this article is actually really easy.

I like to cook, so I'm always trying new things and trying to recreate stuff I've had in restaurants. The first time I had korma sauce, I know I wanted to try and make it at home. I found a simple recipe online, and it turned out really well! Now when I make korma sauce, I like to experiment with adding different spices to it too!

By anon149198 — On Feb 03, 2011

it was so pleasant to read this article to understand and not just follow someone else's recipe. Now i can create my own. --leetzb

By anon128675 — On Nov 20, 2010

thank you. I had no idea what to do with this sauce, as my son will marry an East Indian lady, and I want to make her and her parents feel at home when they visit. again, thank you. --Gail

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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