Chicken Korma w/ Saffron

A royal dish with finest flavors of saffron and fragrant spices in a rich creamy cashew sauce.



To marinate

  • 2lb (1 kg) chicken pieces, bone in
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Red chilli powder
  • 1.5 tsp salt


For the sauce

  • a generous pinch of zaran saffron
  • 1 tablespoon warm milk
  • 12-15 whole cashews
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 green cardamom, seeds only
  • 1/2" cinnamon stick (see notes)
  • 1 small twig of mace (can be skipped if not available)
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup fried onions (store bought or homemade(see notes on how to make at home)
  • 6 tablespoon ghee
  • 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder or paprika (adjust to tolerance)
  • 1.5 teaspoon coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2/3 cup plain whole yogurt, whisked
  • 1/3- 1/2 cup water (or more depending on desired consistency of sauce)
  • 1-2 teaspoon sugar
  • 5-6 tablespoon heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoon golden raisins
  • Fried nuts, for serving



Wash the chicken pieces and pat completely dry using a paper towel. Mix up lemon juice, red chili powder and salt and rub all over the chicken. Marinate for at least 4 hours or up to 8 hours, refrigerated.

Before beginning to cook, take out the chicken from the refrigerator (at least 1 hour prior) and let sit on the kitchen counter.

Begin by grinding the saffron thread with a pinch of sugar. Soak the ground saffron in 1 tbsp warm milk.


  • Dry roast the cashews, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, mace (if using), fennel in a skillet. In a blender, grind together the fried onions, cashews and spices to make a paste. Add little water if needed during grinding. 


  • In a heavy bottomed potheat up the ghee on medium low; sear the chicken pieces (in batches) on all sides. Take out once the pieces are browned on all sides. To the remaining ghee (or add another tablespoon if needed), add the bay leaf, let crackle for 5 seconds and then add the ginger garlic paste. Let sauté about 10 seconds or till you smell the aroma.


  • Next add the ground onion paste, coriander powder, Kashmiri chili powder and salt. Sauté for 8-10 minutes on medium low minutes until the oil start to separate. Then, reduce the heat to lowest, wait for minute and then add the whisked yogurt. Do not stir immediately else the yogurt will curdle. Slowly stir around to mix yogurt with everything else in the pot. Cook the yogurt along with the rest of spice paste for 5-7 minutes on medium low heat until you see oil separating again on the sides.


  • Set the stove to medium and then add the seared chicken to the pot and begin to toss it around. Let the chicken cook without covering for about 5-7 minutes together with the spice paste. Before you cover the pot, reduce the stove to medium low and then let the chicken cook in its own juices for 20-25 minutes. Check once or twice in between to make sure that the chicken is not sticking to the bottom of the pot. Add a splash of water if it's sticking.


Next, after about 25 minutes, when the chicken is 95% cooked, add the water depending on the desired consistency of sauce (add 1/3 cup water to start with) along with sugar. At this stage, also check and adjust the salt. Let cook for another 15 minutes till chicken is cooked through. Add the heavy cream, saffron soaked in milk and raisins next. Let simmer (not boil) for 5-8 minutes on very low heat till the cream is mixed in. Once done, put off the heat and let rest covered for 2 hours.


Warm up, garnish with fried nuts and serve.