Rich Indian-style curry

Rich Indian-style curry


South East Asian Food

Korma is a very rich but not hot curry that is found in almost identical forms on the north and the west coast of Malaysia, in north Sumatra and in west Java – all areas heavily influenced by early Arab and Indian Moslem involvement in the spice trade. Its richness and opulence make it a favourite dish for serving at weddings, festivals and family gatherings.

While employing very much the same spicing as the Moslem north Indian dish of the same name, the Malay korma is cooked with coconut milk rather than yoghurt.


Quantity Ingredient
750g lamb or mutton from the leg, cut into 4 cm cubes
or 750g lean beef, cut into pieces 4 x 4 x 1 cm thick
or 1.5kg chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
4-6 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 shallots, sliced
or 1 medium brown onion, chopped
5-6 medium garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
8cm stick cinnamon, broken a little
10 cloves
3 points star anise
2-3 cups thin coconut milk
salt, to taste
2 pieces dried tamarind or lime juice, to taste
2 potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 small brown onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup thick coconut milk

Paste spices

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
2 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon poppy seeds, (optional)
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced
4cm piece fresh ginger, chopped
2 garlic cloves
4 shallots, sliced


  1. Grind the dry paste spices to a powder. Pound the lemongrass, ginger, garlic and shallots to a fine consistency and mix with the ground spices, adding a little water to produce a paste. Coat the meat or chicken with this and leave aside for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the shallots, garlic, cinnamon, cloves and star anise until everything is fragrant and the shallots are light brown. Put in the spiced meat and stir-fry for a few minutes.
  3. Add the thin coconut milk, salt and dried tamarind to the pan and half cook the meat (about 30 minutes). Add the potatoes, stir, and cook until both meat and potatoes are almost done. Add the onions and the thick coconut milk and simmer for 5–10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings and serve.
  4. This dish is good eaten with Roti jala, as is any other curry cooked with the dried ‘trade’ spices.
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