Vegetable Kurma/Korma

By Published On: 16 Aug '23Last Updated: 14 Apr '24

Flavourful vegetable kurma that has all the authentic flavours. Mildly spicy, rich and pairs well with poori or any Indian breads. Tested and perfected!!

Vegetable Kurma

What is Korma/Kurma

The term ‘Korma’ (North India) or ‘Kurma’ (South India) refers to meat or vegetables braised with water, stock, yogurt or cream. This mixed vegetable curry is a classic example of a 'Vegetable Kurma/Korma'.

A meat Kurma is a richly spiced Indian delicacy of meat containing little or no chilli, and slow cooked in yogurt or cream or both.

Similarly, a vegetable kurma is a mildly spiced curry dish in which an assortment of vegetables is cooked in a cashew nut and coconut-based sauce, along with some aromatics and a few more ingredients.

In India and Pakistan, Korma refers to a dish in the category of braise meaning, a dish in which the main ingredient is cooked slowly with a minimum of added liquid unlike a strew, which is a dish in which the main ingredient is cooked slowly in a relatively large amount of liquid.

Where is the home territory of the Korma family?

The Moguls who arrived in India introduced the Persian dishes to the royal table. Korma curry is the legacy of the Moguls to India and is of Mogul origin.

The Korma family stretches in an arc from the Middle East through Afghanistan to North India. It's the same arc that's produced some of my favourite dishes such as biryani, kebabs, koftas, tandoor and samosas.

Korma family is the delicacy of the North Indian and Afghanistan frontier, now a popular restaurant favourite globally.

What forms the base of a good vegetable Korma/Kurma

Vegetable Kurma has a unique flavour with aromatics such as cardamom and garam masala, to lend this dish a flavourful finish.

It is a mildly spicy curry dish that is cooked in a cashew nut and coconut-based sauce. The cashews are blended with coconut (unsweetened), yogurt and aromatics such as cardamom, garam masala, garlic, ginger and a few more ingredients to make it a great korma/kurma base. Then an assortment of colourful vegetables like beans, carrots, green peas and cauliflower are added to this paste and simmered until vegetables are just cooked.

There are slight regional differences between the north and south Indian kurmas. In the north of India nuts, seeds, yogurt and onions form the base. As we all know, South India is a land of coconuts and fresh coconut is often used for a tropical South Indian flavour, along with some aromatics. Occasionally, yogurt is also added to add some texture and a little tang.

This vegetable kurma curry recipe is mildly hot, which should suit most people's taste. The sweetness and mildness of this kurma makes it attractive to kids and adults with somewhat nervous palates.

If you are looking for a sauce that will take your vegetables from good to great, then you got to give this vegetable kurma a go!

What goes with vegetable Kurma?

The fragrant flavour of kurma allows it to pair perfectly with all varieties of Indian breads such as, poori/puri (deep fried Indian puffed bread), naan, roti and parantha. Kurma also makes a delicious vegetarian meal served with hot steamed basmati or jasmine rice.

You will find a range of South Indian/Mangalorean vegetarian curry and dry dishes featuring gourd family vegetables (Ash Gourd Polov/Kuvalo Bafat, Field Marrow Foogath (Mogem), Ridge Gourd Foogath, Ash Gourd Sasam or Ash Pumpkin Curry are a few fan favourites!).

There are also some dhal and legume recipes such as my Chickpea Kurma, Coconut Dhal or Udupi Tomato Sambhar.

Mangaloreans are also big on their fruit based curries such as my Sweet and Sour Mango Curry or Malabar Spinach and Paw Paw Curry.


The ingredients in the vegetable kurma are not uncommon to an Indian pantry. In modern times, people are preparing different types of cuisines at home and their pantries are well stocked with a variety of ingredients, including the popularly used Indian pantry staples such as, turmeric, coriander, garam masala, chilli powder and cardamom powder.

Onion - Chopped onions add texture, flavour and taste. In a traditional kurma, onions are first browned in oil and then ground along with other ingredients for that signature texture and flavour. In this recipe, the onions are sauteed but not blended. Substitute: red or white onion.

Garam masala - Added for subtle flavour. It is a spice blend of many spices and too much will lend the dish bitter. Remember the principle, little is more!

Vegetables - A small quantity of a colourful combination of vegetables is the way to go. Try to dice or chop the vegetables around the same size, so they can cook at the same time. I have used peas, cauliflower, carrots and French beans. Limit the vegetables to 3 or 4 varieties otherwise, you will overcrowd the dish.

Thickened cream - Enhances the taste but adding cream is optional. If using, add it at the end of cooking and simmer for 1 minute. You can also drizzle a little as a garnish, if you like.

Coriander leaves (cilantro) - One of my favourite garnishes, adds colour, a bit of texture and flavour. Omit, if you are not a fan.

Lemon juice (optional) - It is not traditional to add lemon to vegetable kurma. I like to drizzle ½ tsp. to cut through the rich taste. Remember, little is more as too much will render the dish sour!


Indian cooks in general always use a combination of spices to flavour the curries and so do I. Oh no! you will not find curry powder (a mix of ready-made-spices) as one of the ingredients in my recipes, as curry powder is a Western invention developed during the English occupation of the Indian subcontinent.

There is nothing wrong in using curry powder in your recipes, but there is a good chance that all curries will taste the same and that's not appetising at all!

The purpose of tailor making a spice blend is to create your own unique flavour profile for a particular dish.

The beautiful thing about making your own masala blend is that you can vary the amount of the spices used to suit your own taste. So, let's say you don't like too much Kashmiri chilli powder, then you can reduce the amount to your liking or vice-versa. Perhaps you don't care much for cardamom, you may reduce its amount, however, as kurma is traditionally made with whole spices, omitting cardamom would alter the taste of this kurma slightly.

Once you have done all the prep, this kurma comes together really quickly!


Coriander seeds - Common ingredient in Indian cooking, adds earthy flavour, when combined with turmeric and chilli powders.

Cardamom - Is an essential flavour in this particular kurma. Added as a part of the spice blend, makes the kurma fragrant. Adding too many seeds to the blender will overpower the dish!

Ginger + Garlic - Essential ingredients in most Indian curries. Fresh gives the best flavours. Substitute: with 1 tbsp. ginger garlic paste.

Desiccated coconut (unsweetened) - Adds a typical South Indian tropical dimension in contrast to the North Indian creamy simmer sauce.

Yogurt - The Kurma sauce gets its slight tang and thickness from a combination of yogurt and cashews. It also cuts through the richness of the sauce and balances the spicy flavours.

Cashew nuts - Forms the best-known base of a kurma, along with coconut and yogurt. Makes the simmer sauce thick, rich and creamy.

Turmeric powder - A common spice used in Indian cooking. Gives beautiful golden hues to the finished dish, while adding a subtle earthy flavour.

Kashmiri chilli powder - Staple in every Indian pantry, added both for mild heat and as colour enhancer. If you are not a fan of spice, reduce to your taste.

White poppy seeds - Another ingredient in a traditional style meat kurma. I have added it for good measure in my vegetable kurma. It adds nutty tones and thickens the sauce beautifully. If you do not have this ingredient, omit it.


This vegetable kurma is actually easy to make. The ingredients used are the most basic of Indian pantry staples and are commonly used in almost all Indian curries. The only unusual ingredient is the white poppy seeds, for which you might need to make a trip to the Indian grocery store. If you could not be bothered, omit this ingredient as the cashew nuts and yogurt are perfect to thicken the gravy to a rich texture.

Puree the ingredients under the heading 'For the Masala' in a blender or a similar appliance.

Fry the onions - Heat oil in a medium deep saucepan and fry onions till golden (5-6 minutes) on medium. Reduce heat to low and add the ground puree. Stir to combine.

Add garam masala powder and ¼ cup water. Add salt and stir to combine.

Add vegetables - Add carrots, beans, peas and combine until vegetables are well coated.

Wash the blender with 1½ - 1¾ cups of water and add to the pan. Stir to combine and season, if required. Bring to the boil, close lid and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add cauliflower - Lastly add cauliflower and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add cream (if using) and stir quickly to combine. Simmer for 1 minute. Kurma thickens when resting, so do not panic if it looks a bit runny!

Vegetable Kurma ready - it's rich, creamy, mildly spicy and it sure takes the vegetables from good to great!

serving suggestions

  • The best ever combination is Indian deep fried puffed bread called 'poori' or 'puri'.
  • Pairs perfectly with roti, naan, paratha and parantha, be it home-made or store bought!
  • For a satisfying Indian style meal, serve kurma with hot steamed cooked basmati, jasmine or any short grain rice. Papads or sweet pickles on the side won't hurt!

If you have tried this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback. Please be sure to rate the recipe and/or leave a comment below. If you want to see more recipe inspirations, you can follow me on Instagram @lavina_mendonsa.

Vegetable Kurma

Vegetable Kurma/Korma

Catherine Lavina Mendonsa
A flavourful veg-focussed kurma that has all the authentic flavours and is a winner. It is a vegetable curry that is as filling as it is delicious. Pairs well with all Indian breads or rice, but best served with poori or puri (deep fried puffed Indian bread). Tested and perfected!!
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Accompaniment, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Hindu, Indian, Mangalorean, South Indian, North Indian
Servings 4


  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped 200g
  • 1 tsp. garam masala powder 2g
  • 1-1½ tsp. salt or to taste
  • 1 small carrot trimmed, peeled and diced (100g)
  • 8 French beans cut into 1cm pieces (65g)
  • ¾ cup frozen green peas defrosted (100g)
  • ¾ cup cauliflower cut into 2cm florets 120g
  • ½ cup thickened cream optional
  • 2 tbsp. chopped coriander leaves for garnish
  • ½ tsp. lemon juice optional

For the masala

  • 1 tbsp. coriander seeds 4g
  • Seeds of 4 green cardamoms or ¼ tsp. cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp. Kashmiri chilli powder 5g
  • ½ tsp. turmeric powder 3g
  • 2 tbsp. desiccated coconut (unsweetened) 12g
  • ¾ cup natural yogurt 180g-200g
  • 10-12 cashew nuts 20g
  • 1 tbsp. roughly chopped ginger 10g
  • 4 garlic cloves roughly chopped 10g
  • 1 tsp. white poppy seeds 3g


  • Puree the ingredients under the heading ‘For the Masala’ in a blender or similar appliance with 40mL water. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a medium heavy based saucepan with a lid on medium heat. Add onions and fry till golden (5-6 minutes).
  • Reduce heat to low. Add the puree and cook for 3 minutes, stirring regularly. Add a dash of water if the mixture sticks to the pan. Add garam masala powder and ¼ cup water. Add salt and stir to combine. Add carrots, beans and peas and combine until vegetables are well coated.
  • Wash blender with 1½ - 1¾ cups water and add to the pan with the vegetables (see NOTE 1). Stir to combine and season, if required. Increase heat to medium, bring to the boil, close lid and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are cooked to your liking, stirring occasionally.
  • Add cauliflower and cook for 2-3 minutes or until cauliflower is cooked to your liking (see NOTE 2). Add cream and stir quickly to combine (if adding). Simmer for 1 minute. Add lemon juice (if adding) and combine. Remove from heat.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with piping hot poories as a vegetarian meal. Pairs well with hot steamed rice and some Indian style pickles and papads as accompaniments.


  1. Do not panic if the kurma is a bit runny in Step 4, as it thickens while sitting on the bench.
  2. I added ½ tsp. sugar in Step 5 when adding cauliflower, to bring up the flavours of the vegetables.
Keyword Indian Vegetarian Curry, Korma, Kurma, Nut based Indian curry, Vegetable Curry