Korma curry is aromatic and full of flavor, it can be mild or very spicy, depending on the amount of chili added, but most store-bought pastes are often on the mild side.
The good thing is that you can create your own delicious and creamy korma curry paste using almonds, coconut, and a selection of spices you probably already have on hand or get store-bought.
But what will you do if any of these options aren’t available and you probably did not notice it on time to restock them? Well, there are many reasonable korma curry paste substitutes that will also do the job, and you may not be able to tell the difference.
Some of the best substitutes for korma curry paste are massaman curry, madras curry, Malabar, butter chicken, malai kofta, panaeng curry, biryani, tikka masala, and homemade korma curry paste.
What is Korma Curry?
Korma, also known as qorma, is a popular Mughlai dish that originated from the Indian subcontinent. It is usually made of meat or vegetables braised with cream, yogurt (dahi), water or stock, and different spices to produce a somewhat thick sauce or gravy.
What is Korma Curry Made Of?
Like I mentioned earlier, Korma curry is made of meat or vegetables that are braised in a fairly mild soft yogurt sauce that is seasoned with different aromatic spices.
Korma curry often carries a nutty undertone from blended coconut, cashews, almonds, or poppy seeds.
What Does Korma Curry Taste Like?
Korma curries are often spiced for flavor, and not for heat. Instead of black pepper and cumin, korma uses flavors such as cinnamon and cardamom.
It’s often combined with cream and butter, and mixed with slow-cooked yogurt-marinated meats. If you want zest without the burn, then kormas are definitely meant for you.
Best Korma Curry Paste Substitutes
There are a handful of substitutes you can use to replace korma paste in your next curry, or you can make a homemade korma paste from scratch using the authentic korma paste recipe discussed below.
1. Massaman curry
The massaman curry is a popular Indian and Thai cuisine due to its rich and slightly sweet taste.
It includes cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, lemongrass, tamarind paste, and peanuts, which adds a pleasant crunchy element to the dish.
2. Tikka masala
Tikka masala makes an excellent substitute for korma curry paste; it is creamy and made from a tomato base which makes it mild in spiciness and gives it a vibrant orange color.
Any type of meat can be used for tikka masala, but the most popular choice is chicken.
3. Madras curry
Madras curry contains just the right amount of heat; it is hot but not eye-watering hot. It has a reddish-brown color due to the chili flakes or paprika it includes.
Fennel seeds give the dish some freshness, while fresh tamarind adds a delicious tart taste.
4. Malai Kofta
Malak kofta is a vegetarian korma curry paste substitute. This dish includes balls of potato and paneer that have been deep-fried and then added to a creamy, tomatoey sauce which is mildly spicy and delicious.
Malak kofta is basically garam masala to which a range of spices is added to produce a complex dish; it can be served with flatbread or flavored rice.
5. Malabar curry
Malabar curry originates from southern India and is popular in the Keralan region. It is a suitable korma substitute for anyone who likes seafood. Malabar is commonly paired with fish or prawns, giving it a unique taste.
6. Rogan josh
Rogan josh is India’s take of lamb casserole; it includes extra spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.
The lamb is slow-cooked in a flavor-packed gravy until it becomes overly tender and falls apart easily. This is a meaty and soul-warming dish, and it makes an excellent korma substitute.
8. Butter chicken
Butter chicken is a creamy, mild, slightly sweet dish that uses a tomato base. It can be served with naan bread or roti, which is used to soak up the sauce.
Butter chicken can also be served as a side for aloo gobi, daal, or basmati rice; in fact, no korma curry paste substitute list will be complete without butter chicken.
9. Panaeng curry
Panaeng curry is an authentic Thai curry that uses a mild-tasting base that works well as a substitute for korma.
It’s fairly similar tasting like massaman but doesn’t usually include sweet spices like cardamom and cinnamon.
10. Dhal Khichdi
Dhal khichdi is an easy dish and can be made in under half an hour. It is a healthy dish as it combines moong lentils with rice and ghee. Asafoetida, cumin seeds, and ginger can also be added if you desire additional heat.
This substitute for korma curry is less saucy. It uses spices like saffron, cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves and is best served with basmati rice.
12. Homemade Korma Curry Paste
If you do not want to make use of a substitute, you can make homemade korma paste from scratch; it is simple and is worth the effort.
You might even be surprised to find that you may already have some of the spices in the pantry. Here’s a simple recipe you can follow
- 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp cilantro seeds
- 2 tsp garam masala powder
- 1oz piece of ginger
- 2 tbsp cilantro (coriander)
- 1 garlic clove
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp almonds
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- Salt and pepper, to taste
How to Make Homemade Korma Curry Paste
Start by toasting the coconut, cayenne pepper, cumin seeds, cilantro seeds, and garam masala in a dry pan placed on medium-high heat.
Toast the spices until they become fragrant; this should take about 2-3 minutes. Once the spices are toasted, remove from heat and allow to cool.
Place the remaining ingredients in a mortar and grind with a pestle until it forms a paste with a smooth consistency. Incorporate the toasted spices into the paste, ensuring it is well combined.
Your korma curry paste is ready to be used immediately or stored in the refrigerator until needed.