Korma Curry is a great spicy and tangy meal when you want to get out of a funk, or when you are tired of eating too many sweets during festival time. This quick curry is flexible and you can pretty much put any veggies you have on hand in it.
Korma or Kurma is a part of Mughlai cuisine. It is mostly popular in Avadhi cuisine of Lucknow or in other areas where the Mughals ruled in India, which was pretty much a large part of the country at some time or the other. You will find the word spelled differently depending on where you are in India. It is also pronounced differently.And the recipe also varies from place to place.
After many years of pondering over this, I have reached the conclusion that local influences play a big part in how this dish is prepared or talked about.
If you pick up the menu of any Udupi hotel in Maharashtra, you are sure to see the ‘Veg Kurma’ or ‘Kurma Poori’ on it. This one contains curry leaves and has a coconut milk base, unlike the rich nuts and cream/ yogurt base found in Northern India. I think this is just a modified coastal version where local ingredients like coconuts which were abundantly available came to be used in the curry.
Today’s Korma Curry is what I call the coastal or South Indian version. And I have made it pretty simple by drastically reducing the pantry ingredients you need here. When I wrote 30 Days of Daal, my goal was to shatter the myth that Indian cooking needs tons of ingredients. Who wants to buy a big list of ingredients that will never be used again and will gather dust in the pantry? ( Actually, I have done that, but I guess your average recreational cook doesn’t want to do it).
So I am calling this Curry for Dummies, in true ‘dummies’ book style. You can use as many veggies as you want here, but the curry itself is very simple. The one fresh ingredient I would like you to use is curry leaves. If you use them, they will bump up this dish but if you cannot get them, don’t sweat it. My star ingredient will do the job.
So what is this star ingredient? Curry Powder of course! Curry powder has an interesting story. The whole concept of ‘curry’ in the west is that it is one spice. And this concept has been perpetuated by the curry powder, I think. The British took curry or curry powder to the west, of course.
It is still hard to find curry powder in India because most of it is exported. If you are in the US, you will be spoiled for choice with the array of curry powders found online and on the grocery store shelves. Even Indian grocery stores sell the Madras Curry Powder.
Every curry powder will have a different taste and there will be slight differences. I suggest you try different ones until you hit the one that is right for you. Go for a milder one because you can always add cayenne pepper to adjust the heat. You want the curry powder to give you a spice base and not heat. My favorite is the Ship brand curry powder in the green tin which is quite mild but very lemony and flavorful.
The taste of curry powder is very different from garam masala. The bulk of the curry powder flavor comes from coriander powder. Cumin and turmeric are the next high concentration ingredients and warm spices are used sparingly. Unlike this, a ‘garam’(hot) masala has a higher percentage of cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaves etc.
You can use any vegetables you like in this korma curry. Mushrooms or broccoli will also be great here. Please follow the order of the recipe to avoid overcooking the more delicate vegetables.
Well, I know some of you may just want the recipe and not the theory behind it, so here goes. Once again, I bet you will be amazed by how simple this kurma curry is.
Vegetable Korma Curry recipe
- 1 cup cauliflower florets
- 1 cup carrot chunks
- 1 cup peas
- 1 cup potato or sweet potato
- 1 cup green beans
- ½ cup green bell pepper
- 1 Tbsp grated ginger
- 1 Tbsp crushed garlic
- ½ cup onion paste
- ½ cup crushed tomato
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 Tbsp curry powder
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 5-6 curry leaves optional
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- Salt to taste
- Use canned crushed tomatoes or just puree in a food processor. You can do the same with the onion or just grate it.
- Heat oil in a thick bottom stock pot or wok.
- Add the onion paste and ginger and garlic. Fry until aromatic and light brown. Add a little water at a time to prevent the paste from sticking or burning.
- Add curry leaves now if you are using them.
- Add half the curry powder.
- Add potatoes or sweet potatoes and tomato puree or crushed tomatoes. Cover and cook until potatoes are partially cooked.
- Add cauliflower and carrots and cover for 5-10 minutes.
- Now add the green beans.
- Add the cayenne pepper and curry powder and ensure there is enough liquid in the pot.
- Cover until potatoes are fork tender.
- Now add the peas, salt and mix well.
- Add the coconut cream and bring mixture to a boil and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Adjust the sauce consistency by adding water if needed.
- Serve with hot roti or rice, or with pooris.
Well, are you nodding your head yet? Go ahead, clean out that fridge and treat yourself to this wholesome Korma Curry that is better than any takeout. And yes, please let me know if you liked it!