What is a Kurma?

The kurma, alternatively known as “korma”, “khorma”, or “qorma”, is a dish originating from Central Asian culinary traditions. Its name is derived from from an Urdu word meaning “braise”, which serves to describe how the dish is traditionally made. Generally, it will come in the form of braised meat or vegetables, prepared in a spicy sauce made with water, stock, and either yogurt, nut paste, or cream.

A number of main ingredients will be used in the dish, including lamb, chicken, turnip, beef, and others. Its flavor comes from a mixture of spices that generally includes ground coriander and cumin. Other common spices include chili and ginger. In South Indian versions, chefs will often add bay leaves and dried coconut to the mix.

Though korma has traveled far and been adapted by numerous cultures, it traces its origins back to the Moghlai cuisine of Central Asia. Historians place its invention back at some point in the 16th century, during the Mughal incursions into the area of modern-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

The earliest forms of the dish were cooked in mud pots over a wood stove made from mud; many believe that these old cooking techniques were responsible for much of the dish’s incredible taste. You can still find people using the same techniques throughout the rural parts of India to this day.