This fabulous chicken korma recipe is my take on an Indian dish of chicken simmered in a bath of ginger, garlic, onions, spices, coconut cream & tomato sauce. This easy recipe is dairy free, paleo and Whole30 compliant!
Dairy free chicken korma recipe
Now, I've had my fair share of Indian dishes. We used to frequent this really delicious Indian restaurant in town, but I had to really pump the brakes due to all of the dairy products that were used in their creamiest and sauciest dishes. I thought to myself:
"Man, there must be a way for me to recreate these at home, sans the dairy and without skimping on flavor and intensity."
And boy, was I right. The coconut cream substitution is just perfect in this korma recipe.
Due to the feisty nature of all the herbs and spices used, you cannot taste even a hint of coconut so no need to worry about that!
Traditionally, this recipe is made with big cubes of butter, but the ghee is a lovely substitution. If you would like to use butter instead, you absolutely can.
The best chicken korma recipe
There are some spices I included in this dish that I haven't used very often before. Usually, a chicken korma is made with the spice fenugreek.
However, it can be really hard to find at regular grocery stores, so I decided to replace it with some ground mustard seed.
Coriander is another spice that I haven't dusted off in a while. It provides a certain warmth and earthiness to the dish that cannot be replicated using something else.
The combination of the mustard seed and coriander is pretty much other-worldly. It's such a darn flavor bomb explosion.
Why This Recipe
Speaking of which-- I think cooking down onions with garlic and ginger is the best possible smell that can come out of your kitchen.
Now, let me tell you something that was a part of this recipe that is a game changer... and it actually happened completely by accident. I forgot to dice up my chicken thighs in the beginning and ended up throwing the full thighs into the pot.
The result? Fall apart in your mouth chicken goodness. As soon as I had realized my "mistake", I got a bit panicky and was worried I'd have to start over with a fresh batch of chicken. This ended up being one of the best "mistakes" I've ever made.
What are the ingredients for chicken korma?
The majority of the flavor in this dish comes from the fabulous spices being used, as well as the fresh onion, ginger, and garlic.
You will need a handful of ingredients to make the marinade for the chicken, but other than that, your ingredient list isn't too long.
Here's what's inside this dish:
- Boneless & skinless chicken thighs
- Coconut cream or yogurt
- Yellow onion
- Lemon juice
- Red bell peppers
- Tomato sauce
- Arrowroot flour
How to make this chicken korma recipe
Put chicken in a bowl, Tupperware container or gallon freezer bag and marinate with coconut cream/yogurt and spices. Set aside.
Heat up a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add ghee and allow it to melt completely. Throw in onions and cook until completely dark golden-brown. Be very careful not to burn them, as they will begin to get dark after 10-15 minutes.
Stir in ginger and garlic and sauté for a few more minutes.
Add all spices (except mustard seed) and let them bloom for a minute. Mix in the chicken and marinade and briefly stir-fry to coat chicken with the masala you’ve made. I left my thighs whole during this process, and I recommend it.
Add bell pepper and tomato sauce and cover the pan. Let everything simmer for about 15 minutes.
Add coconut cream and ground mustard seed. Add the rest of the ghee. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Give it a try and add salt and black pepper, to taste.
To make the arrowroot slurry, combine arrowroot with water and mix well until smooth. Slowly pour in a little at a time into the pot while stirring. Keep adding until it reaches your desired thickness.
Garnish with cilantro, extra coconut cream and some pine nuts, if you'd like. Serve on a bed of cauliflower rice, regular rice or with naan bread.
I highly, highly recommend making this chicken korma recipe for some friends or family members if you're hosting some sort of get together or dinner party.
It will travel well, too, especially if you make it in a dutch oven like I did.
I know I'm going to have to whip up another batch later this week, as I was only able to get my hands on one bowl thanks to the savages I was eating alongside. Just kidding, you two.
But really, get this Whole30 chicken korma on the menu as soon as you can.
Feel free to serve it on a big bed of cauliflower rice or regular rice if that's your jig. Happy cookin'!
What is the difference between chicken korma and chicken tikka masala?
The main difference between the two is this:
I would describe chicken korma to be more like a curry, whereas tikka masala is a bit more complex with more heat too.
There is a bit of overlap with the the ingredients and spices being used in each dish such as: tomatoes, coriander, garam masala, and fresh ginger, garlic, onions, etc.
I have a quick and easy recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Tikka Masala that is fabulous as well.
Recipe tips & FAQ
Can I use butter instead of ghee?
How long will this last in the refrigerator?
For up to 5 days in an airtight container.
What can I serve this chicken korma recipe with?
I recommend eating it with Instant Pot jasmine rice, cauliflower rice or potatoes.
Can I use chicken breasts instead of thighs?
You can. Be sure you simmer them in the sauce long enough until the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit. It will take a few minutes longer than thighs.
For the creamiest mash, be sure to use as many florets as possible, and not the stems. The florets get a lot creamier.
More Whole30 recipes you'll love:
Whole30 Chicken Korma
- 4 tablespoons ghee or grass-fed butter, split in two
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 8 garlic cloves minced
- 1 heaping teaspoon ginger minced
- 1 bell pepper chopped
- 15 ounces tomato sauce no salt added
- 16 ounces canned coconut milk or coconut cream
- 1 heaping teaspoon garam masala
- 1 heaping teaspoon coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed powder
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- cilantro for topping
- pine nuts for topping
- 1 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot flour
- 1 tablespoon water
- Put chicken in a bowl, Tupperware container or gallon freezer bag and marinate with coconut cream/yogurt and spices. Set aside.
- Heat up a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add ghee and allow it to melt completely. Add onions and cook until completely dark golden-brown. Be very careful not to burn them, as they will begin to get dark after 10-15 minutes.
- Add ginger and garlic and sauté for a few more minutes.
- Add all spices (except mustard seed) and let them bloom for a minute. Add your chicken mixture and briefly stir-fry to coat chicken with the masala you’ve made. I left my thighs whole during this process, and I recommend it.
- Add bell pepper and tomato sauce and cover the pan. Let everything simmer for about 15 minutes.
- Add coconut cream and ground mustard seed. Add the rest of the ghee. Let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Give it a try and add salt and black pepper, to taste. To make the arrowroot slurry, combine arrowroot with water and mix well until smooth. Slowly pour in a little at a time into the pot while stirring. Keep adding until it reaches your desired thickness.
- Garnish with cilantro, extra coconut cream and some pine nuts, if you'd like. Serve on a bed of cauliflower rice, regular rice or with naan bread.
- Mustard seed: Feel free to use fenugreek instead of mustard seed powder. I just had a hard time finding it at my local grocery store.
- Chicken thighs: You can dice your chicken up after it has cooked or leave it as is. It'll be so soft, I wouldn't worry too much about it!
Hi! I’m Monica – recipe developer, matcha addict and lover of all things chocolate, kombucha and any & all puns. I am also the blogger, real food lover, & bonafide hustler behind the blog ‘The Movement Menu.’ I’m so excited to welcome you to my happy space, where my appreciation of creative recipes and healthy & mindful eats come together to inspire you to live a healthy, balanced life.