I recently saw a pseudo-recipe for an authentic Lucknow korma on TV. After infusing whole spices in ghee, adding an onion puree, chilli powder and chicken, the cook added a creamy looking mixture of what he said was desiccated coconut, cashew nuts and poppy seeds.

This mixture looked too liquid to be made up of just those ingredients. What would be the liquid base? I am thinking it is either cream, yoghurt or coconut milk, but I don't know, and each of those has a distinct flavour.

Also, in what proportion would the dry ingredients be?

4 Answers 4


Authenticity is often in question when it comes to curry.

Korma covers a fairly broad range of South/Central Asian curries, their common feature being their creaminess.

The creaminess can come from cream, coconut cream, yoghurt, or ground nuts - or a mixture of these.

In the case of ground nuts, water might be added to add liquidity, although you may be surprised at how much liquid nuts contain. Just think how gloopy peanut butter can be.

  • Peanut butter is actually extremely dry, which is why it is shelf stable. The "goopiness" is oil.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Jul 9, 2013 at 18:46
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    Oil is a liquid. And (in real peanut butter) it's peanut oil from the nuts themselves. It's true that in the US a lot of peanut butter has the peanut oil swapped out for palm oil.
    – slim
    Jul 9, 2013 at 22:18
  • It is not true that the oils are swapped in the US. The USDA standards of identity say, IIRC, that peanut butter must consist of 98% (at least) peanuts, the rest being salt, flavors, emulsifiers mainly. And sorry, you did say 'liquid', not 'wet' or 'moist'.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Jul 9, 2013 at 22:26
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    Sorry, I was wrong, its 90%. accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/…
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Jul 9, 2013 at 22:37
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    Just to add, some kormas also include nut or coconut milk. For instance, Navratan korma can include nut milks, yogurt, or coconut milk to add to sweetness.
    – Matthew
    Jul 10, 2013 at 16:10

Most of the gravy based dishes use cream, yogurt, nuts or coconut shreddings/milk as thickening agents or to provide texture.
Their usage for flavor is limited cause most of the times the spices overpower the dish with their unique taste.

Nuts are usually soaked in a liquid like milk (incase of cashews, almonds) or water (in case of peanuts) and then grounded to convert them into paste before adding them to the gravy.

Since the chef used desiccated coconut in the mixture, using coconut milk as base would be redundant. I would think the base liquid used was milk or cream.
Yogurt is used as a base for marination.

Generally, the proportions would be cup of nuts and coconut and a teaspoon of poppy seeds.

  • Thanks for your answer. I have found that the recipe is in the book accompanying the TV series, so I will try and look at it to nail down the answer in this case. Jul 11, 2013 at 12:49

I watched this same program and have been ordering up ingredients to make it as it sounded like a fantastic recipe. The program was rick stein in India, he posts recipes on the program onto the bbc food website, I checked for this recipe but alas it's not there.

I've found a very similar recipe online maybe you could try this one?

In this case they soak the cashews in water and add to yoghurt.



I have been using this recipe since I watched the programme.

It was cream that was added to the poppy seeds and cashews. I use just over a half carton of elmlea. For my wife and I.

  • what size is the carton of elmlea ? (it's not available in all areas, so I have no idea if they have more than one size, or if only one, what size that might be)
    – Joe
    Apr 14, 2014 at 2:44

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