Rocky's Chicken Korma

Rocky's Chicken Korma

One of the questions I constantly asked myself in India was whether I could get food like this back in the UK. More often than not the answer was probably no, and with this korma the answer was emphatically no. Lucknow, with its history of Nawab rulers, is famous for the finesse of its dishes, and Rocky Mohan’s korma carries on that tradition. I had the most fabulous day cooking with him and his wife Rekha, a very successful marriage I would say. I asked her how long they’d been married – fifty, no maybe a hundred years, she said! The black cardamom added at the end of cooking is an essential flavour in this particular dish.

For how many? Serves 4-6


  • 1 x 1.5 kg chicken, jointed into 8 pieces, or 1.5kg chicken pieces, skinned
  • For the coconut paste:
  • 125 g fresh or frozen coconut flesh, chopped or grated
  • 50 g blanched almonds, roughly chopped
  • 5 tsp white poppy seeds
  • For the masala:
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
  • 50 g ghee or vegetable oil
  • 6 cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods, lightly bruised with a rolling pin
  • 3 cm piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½–¾ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • 200 ml water
  • 125 ml thick Greek-style yoghurt mixed with 125ml water
  • 3 black cardamom pods, seeds only, finely ground
  • 2 tbsp raisins, soaked in 4 tbsp boiling water for about 10 minutes, drained


For the coconut paste, blend the coconut, almonds and poppy seeds together in a mini food processor to a paste, adding enough hot water to give a silken texture.

For the masala, blend the onions in a mini food processor to a paste, adding a splash of water if needed. Heat the ghee in a sturdy, deep-sided pan over a medium heat, add the cloves, green cardamom and cinnamon stick and fry for 30 seconds. Stir in the onion paste and salt and fry for 10 minutes until any liquid has evaporated and the onions are softened and translucent, but not coloured. Stir in the chilli powder, then add the chicken pieces to the pan and fry for 10 minutes to brown slightly. Add the water and the coconut paste, bring to a simmer and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Take the pan off the heat, stir in the yoghurt mixture, then return to a gentle heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes, adding a little water if it starts to stick, until the chicken is cooked through and the masala thick and rich. Stir in the ground black cardamom, scatter with the raisins and serve.

Recipe featured in episode 4 of BBC2's Rick Stein's India series.

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