Make Ahead

Bangladeshi-Style Creamy Chicken Korma with Crispy Shallots

January 29, 2011
3 Ratings
Photo by Julia Gartland
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

This Bangladeshi version of korma closely adheres to the refined culinary traditions of the Mughal Empire of South Asia, with its exotic spices like the mighty cardamom and cinnamon. It's also reminiscent of its Persian roots with nuts, dried fruit, and cream (in this case tangy yogurt). There are whole spices and whole green chiles, which lend great layers of flavor without the heat of traditional curries. People who are hesitant with South Asian food and even the pickiest of children tend to adore this dish. Dazzle your family and friends with this scrumptious recipe that highlights the royal culinary history of Bangladesh. {Recipe adapted from my dear Bangladeshi friend, Lani Siddique} - onetribegourmet —onetribegourmet

Test Kitchen Notes

Every once in a while you come across a recipe that makes you believe in alchemy. I wasn’t really convinced that this would come together like the picture, but magically it did. The flavors are warm and subtly spicy with lots of buttery overtones. I suspect that is from all the ghee, olive oil, and yogurt. But if you were to lighten up the recipe, I doubt you would get a result even close to this, so I didn’t try. This would make a great party dish since you can make it ahead. I used a 4 ½ lb chicken and deboned right before serving. —Helen's All Night Diner

What You'll Need
  • 1 whole skinless chicken, cut into 10 pieces
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, beaten well
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh garlic paste
  • 3 tablespoons ghee
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons ground almonds
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons golden raisins, plus more for garnish
  • 4 Thai bird chiles
  • 2-3 tablespoons slivered almonds
  • 2-3 shallots, thinly sliced & fried crisp
  1. Trim and wash chicken pieces well and drain thoroughly. Put the chicken in a large bowl and mix with the yogurt, garlic, and ginger. Marinate for an hour or up to one day.
  2. Saute the onions on medium heat in the oil and ghee/butter until golden brown. Add cinnamon, cardamom, and bay leaf, stirring until fragrant.
  3. Add marinated chicken and salt, raising the temperature to medium high. Stir frequently until water and juices separate from the chicken to create a gravy. Consistently monitor that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan or gets brown, about 10 minutes. Once the liquid has reduced, add a few tablespoons of hot water slowly (maintaining the bubbling of gravy) until chicken is partially submerged. The amount of water will vary because some chickens naturally give off more liquid than others. Bring to a boil and then lower to medium heat so that the gravy is at a heavy simmer but not boiling.
  4. Cover and stir occasionally. Once oil droplets start to rise to the surface (about 20-30 minutes) and the gravy is reducing, add lemon juice, ground almonds, sugar, raisins, and chiles. Check to see if sugar has balanced out the tartness of the yogurt. Cover and cook another 5 minutes on medium-low and remove from the heat.
  5. Optional: Sprinkle with rose water. Garnish with almonds, more raisins, and fried shallots. Serve with plain pulao, biriyani or steamed basmati or jasmine rice.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nazmul Bhuiyan
    Nazmul Bhuiyan
  • holly dart
    holly dart
  • rinkatink
  • adele93
  • AntoniaJames
Hi I'm Sara and I love the art of food & travel. I have a blog called One Tribe Gourmet, where I share my passion for global cuisine and my travel adventures around the world. I have always felt that food is the most common denominator that crosses all boundaries and brings people together. The ritual of “Breaking Bread” in every culture is a special bonding experience. Personally I love to experience different cultures through there cuisines! My goal here is to encourage an individual who is interested in learning different global cuisine yet is a bit intimidated by it. I am here to help you, all you have to do is open your heart!!!

25 Reviews

Nazmul B. January 17, 2019
I am also from Bangladesh. Two things that are very wrong with this recipe, we never ever use olive oil in Bangladesh, it is either cooked entirely with ghee or ghee mixed with a flavourless oil. Second, we never ever put lemon/lime juice in it. At our home we don't do it all the time, but the actual recipe calls for putting in milk.
The following is the most authentic recipe:INGREDIENTS

* 2 medium chicken with bone, cut in small pieces
* 1 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 2 large onion, peeled and diced fine
* 1 teaspoon of ginger paste
* 1 teaspoon of garlic paste
* 3/4 cup of milk
* 1/3 cup of blanched almonds
* 1 teaspoon of Persian rose water
* ½ cup greek yogurt (preferably full cream)
* 8 green cardamom pods (whole)
* 1 cup of water (if needed)
* 6 cloves (whole)
* 2 bay leaves (whole)
* 4 1-inch stick cinnamon (whole)
* 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
* 1 teaspoon black peppercorns (whole)
* 4 tablespoons butter
* 1/4 cup of vegetable oil
* 6 small hot Thai green/red chiles (whole, you are only using them for flavour and not for heat)
* 2 tablespoons of fried crispy shallots (for garnish, not optional)
* 4 tablespoons of slivered almonds (for garnish , optional)
* 2 tablespoons of sultanas (for garnish, optional)
* a bunch of edible rose petals (for garnish, optional)
* few pieces of gold or silver foil (for garnish, optional)


1. Blend blanched almonds, milk and rose water until smooth.
2. Heat up oil in a Dutch oven, and fry the chicken with salt. Once the chicken is slightly golden, add onions. Once the onion is translucent, add ginger, garlic, cardamom, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon, nutmeg and peppercorns. Stir gently. Before the chicken becomes too dry, put in your yogurt, and almond/milk/rose water mixture. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Cover the pot until the chicken releases its juices, for 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Uncover the pot to add water if needed and adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring and flipping the chicken very occasionally, until tender and the sauce is light gravy-like in consistency, for about 30 minutes. Adjust the thickness of the sauce by adding water or cooking it down. Stir in the sugar and add the chiles in whole. Simmer over low heat for another 10 min.
4. All the whole spices that were put in are not to be eaten, and if you want you can take them out before putting garnishes on top of your dish.
5. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. After it foams, add the sultanas and almonds, until they are richly browned, and make sure not to burn your almonds. Garnish and serve, preferably with jasmine rice pilaf, or steamed jasmine/basmati rice.
6. Do not garnish with any chopped onions or chopped parsley or cilantro, they will ruin the taste.
holly D. April 3, 2017
I can't believe my whole family liked this. Pizza and burgers are the only other things we all agree on! I used a pinh of ground cardamom because I couldn't find the pods at my store. I also left out the peppers because I forgot them. It was still delicious!
Nazmul B. January 17, 2019
You are putting in whole chilli peppers, they are more for flavour than heat. One of the key difference between Indian and Bangladeshi cooking is that in Bangladesh we use whole garam masala more often as possible, so please try to use whole cardamom, and whole cinnamon.
Lois S. March 22, 2017

Anybody tried substituting tofu or another veggie protein for the chicken?
CondimentQueen March 22, 2017
Hi Lois,
I am hoping you will experiment and report back to us :)
E March 23, 2017
I responded to you in the article about this recipe but in case you don't see it there :

In all honesty, I think it would be good with cauliflower. Never had a vegetarian version, but I think if you add more liquid to compensate for the lack of moisture coming off of a cauliflower to make the gravy, it should work out to make something delicious. My mom loves making South Asian curries with taro roots too, so maybe use taro, or a combo of taro and cauliflower. I think sturdy roots would be best here. Again, don't know how it would actually turn out, but from looking at this particular recipe, adding more liquid to form a gravy while also checking to see the veg doneness (florets and cubes would probably take way less time than cooking with meat) should create a good substitute.
Nazmul B. January 17, 2019
Beside chicken, boiled egg korma are also quite popular in Bangladesh. I personally think potato and carrots can be good substitute.
Kitana January 26, 2014
I never use more than one tablespoon of salt in any of my curries. This is recipe will kill you.
Ali S. March 21, 2017
We've re-tested the recipe and adjusted the amount of salt to reflect.
Nazmul B. January 17, 2019
I am from Bangladesh. This recipe is indeed very salty.
rinkatink April 10, 2013
This was unbearably salty; I scraped off as much sauce off the chicken which made the meat at least palatable, but was forced to throw out the rest of the curry. I'm partly at fault, as I should have gone with my instinct to cut back on the two tablespoons of salt called for and rather season to taste at the end when it had reduced to the desired consistency. As it was, I ended up using 4 tablespoons of brown sugar to hopefully counteract the overtly-savory flavor to no avail.

I used 6 chicken thighs and found it had created enough liquid by step 3 that additional water seemed unnecessary. I also used dried cranberries in place of the golden raisins.

I really wanted to like this dish (the texture of the korma, with the ground almonds was perfect and the chicken quite tender) and will consider giving it another go with the appropriate adjustments.
Nazmul B. January 17, 2019
I am from Bangladesh and this recipe is indeed very salty.
adele93 February 26, 2013
would ground cardamon work well?
Nazmul B. January 17, 2019
Then you are cooking Bangladeshi food in Indian style.
AntoniaJames September 22, 2011
Going to adapt this over the weekend for use with a spatchcocked, braise-roasted chicken. It looks and sounds so good!! Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. ;o)
Louisa September 20, 2011
So good and easy I have made it twice in two weeks. Delicious and fragrant!
jen_c March 4, 2011
We all love this, my 2 year old said it was the best curry ever. Thanks for the recipe.
Eliana60 February 13, 2011
I am still smacking my lips from this wonderful recipe! We ate it tonight and it was a hit with us. I was so excited to note that I had every one of the ingredients on this extensive list, with the exception of the optional rose water. So I made no substitutions except that I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken on the bone. I think the chicken thighs were a good choice for us because my son hates to eat meat off a bone. They were juicy enough to contribute to the wonderful sauce and as a bonus, they cooked much faster than chicken on the bone. I appreciated that because I had to eat quickly & make an airport run. I also used ground almond flour I had left from a failed macaron experiment. That gave the sauce a great texture. I have a small family so I also scaled the recipe in half and that didn't seem to hurt it at all. My son demanded to know how soon we could have it again immediately after taking his very first bite! He loved it. I told him the recipe developer said that it was a favorite of kids and he strongly agreed and asked me to make the full recipe next time, not half. That's a very strong recommendation from us! Thanks, onetribegourmet!
onetribegourmet February 14, 2011
Dear Eliana, I'm SO glad that you & your family enjoyed the recipe! I think boneless chicken thighs are a good substitute! Thanks you so much for your kind words! Regards,
Sara :)
adele93 February 19, 2013
i love the idea of thighs instead of a whole chicken, just curious how many you used?
Eliana60 February 19, 2013
Maybe 8? Enough to feed 4 people.
SanuraJamila January 29, 2011
This dish sounds sooo good. My taste buds are swooning!
onetribegourmet January 29, 2011
Thanks SanuraJamila! Pretty name! :)
drbabs January 29, 2011
sounds fabulous
onetribegourmet January 29, 2011
Thank you dr.babs!