Vegetarian (Vegan) Navratan Korma –A Sweet and Mild Indian Curry

The korma-style curry is my ultimate favorite.  It’s sweet, mildly spicy, creamy…and just tastes so exotic.  One taste, and I was hooked!

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I’ve tried many different recipes–all of which weren’t quite right–and have 34 versions saved in my bookmarks… in a folder titled “I will Conquer Korma.”  True story.

This curry has driven me insane trying to replicate the texture and flavor I order at my local Indian restaurant.

One time, when I was first learning to cook Indian food, a recipe called for 1 cup of both cashews and pistachios.  I shelled all the pistachios, blended everything together with a can of coconut milk and some spices…and had to throw the whole thing away.  It was disgusting…not even Piyush would eat it.   That was it.  I was positive Korma was something I could only get at the restaurant…

I’ve come a long way since then, and have learned how to cook by taste rather than by recipe.  I decided it was about time to have another go at making the perfect korma at home.  I grabbed a note-pad and the take-out menu from my local restaurant (you can figure a lot out just by the descriptions of the dishes) and got started…

My recipe-making process…

Less than 45 minutes after I started chopping vegetables…I had the perfect Korma.  Finally!

If you are new to Indian cuisine or would like to introduce your family and children to the exotic flavors of a good curry…this might be the perfect recipe to begin with.

Korma–a very old style of curry which can be traced back to the Mughal invasions of India and Pakistan in the early 16th century–is meant to be mild (in most cases…there are exceptions) and is flavored with a combination of nuts and coconut milk.  In some instances they may also have yogurt (the older recipes especially) and be cooked dum-style for a long time over a low heat.

While that’s good and everything…I want the kind the restaurant makes! …and I don’t want to spend all day cooking.  So, I thawed some curry base, and got to work!

My version of Korma is very similar to Navratan Korma, served at most Indian restaurants.  Typically, navratan korma is made with a combination of 9 different vegetables-and usually contains paneer and nuts.  It’s a beautiful yellow color- which comes from the usage of ground turmeric.

Vegetarian Korma Curry

(makes six 1c. servings @ aproximately 290 calories per cup)

Note: Can also be made vegan: simply replace the ghee with oil and do not add half & half to finish the curry.

Also, feel free to add what ever vegetables you would like!  Aim for about 4 or 5 cups of mixed vegetables.

  • 1/2 tbsp. ghee (substitute with oil if making vegan)
  • 1/2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp. turmeric- divided
  • chili powder, to taste (Korma is supposed to be a mild dish)
  • 2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tbsp. cumin powder
  • 1 medium potato- diced into 1/2 inch chunks
  • 1/2 c. carrots- sliced
  • 1/2 c. broccoli
  • 1 c. cauliflower
  • 1 c. green beans
  • 1 c. mushrooms
  • 1/2 c. paneer- diced (substitute tofu if making vegan)
  • 1 tbsp fenugreek leaves (fresh or dried)
  • 1/2 c. cashew nuts- plus more for garnish
  • 1 c. light coconut milk
  • 3 c. curry base (Recipe Here)
  • 2 heaping tbsp. Coconut  (preferably unsweetened)
  • 1 c. water–added 1/2 c. at a time
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. half & half- to finish (leave this out if making vegan)
  • small handful golden raisins- to garnish
  • coriander (cilantro) leaves- chopped- to garnish

Directions:

  • Prepare all vegetables, thaw your curry base, get the blender ready and get ready to make some korma!
  • In a large pan, heat 1/2 tbsp of oil and 1/2 tbsp ghee (if using) over med-high heat.  Once the oil gets hot, add 1/2 tsp. turmeric powder, a little chili powder, 2 tsp. garam masala, and 1 tbsp cumin powder.  Stir everything together until it begins to make a paste and the spices are cooked. Add the fenugreek leaves.
  • Add the potatoes.  Stir-fry until the potatoes begin to get a little brown—they don’t need to cook all the way through, yet.
  • Add all other vegetables and paneer (I usually add them straight from the freezer!) and stir-fry for about 3 minutes.  Add about 1 tsp. salt. Turn off the heat.
  • Meanwhile—grab your blender.  Toss in 1/2 cup cashew nuts, 2 tbsp coconut and 1/2 c. water.  Blend until everything looks nice and smooth.
  • To the blender, add 1 c. light coconut milk, 3c. curry base and 1 tsp. turmeric powder.  Blend until your gravy looks chunk-free and delicious! Taste it…if you feel it needs more coconut flavor, add a little more coconut and blend again.
  • Pour the gravy into the pan with the vegetables.  Add 1/2 c. water into the empty blender and swish it around to loosen up whatever gravy was left behind.  Dump this in the pan too.  Turn the heat to about medium and let the curry simmer until the vegetables are cooked.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Once the vegetables are cooked–tender, but not mushy–toss in 2 tbsp. chopped cashew nuts and a small handful of golden raisins.  Finish with 2 tbsp. half and half (if using)-stir to combine. Garnish with chopped coriander.
  • Serve with rice or rotis…and enjoy!

Make sure you pay special attention to the curry once the gravy is added back to the vegetables.  It may start to thicken up–which can cause it to burn.  Stir often and add a little water, as needed.

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This is an extremely easy curry to make (I can finally say that!), and I hope you’ll be inspired to try it!

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69 thoughts on “Vegetarian (Vegan) Navratan Korma –A Sweet and Mild Indian Curry

    1. Shari Post author

      You could definitely substitute almonds for the cashew nuts, the flavor won’t be quite the same….but I’m sure it’ll still taste amazing! If you try it…let me know how it turns out!

      Reply
  1. Abby

    I made this tonight and loved it! The only change I made was to add some lemon juice after taking it off the heat.

    Reply
    1. Shari Post author

      Abby, I’m glad you loved the curry!!! It makes me so happy when other people cook my recipes!—and even happier when the results turn out awesome!

      I can see how the lemon juice would be a fantastic addition…it might help cut some of the sweetness from the coconut milk.

      Reply
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  4. Sara

    Looks great–I didn’t realize korma was so tricky. I’ve been making Indian food a lot lately in my slow cooker–it’s great to come home to the aroma! You’ve got a lovely site here.

    Reply
    1. Shari Post author

      Thank you! …yes, korma took me quite a while to perfect. I live with a super picky Indian dude though…he critiques everything I make!

      Reply
      1. Kelsey

        I cook lots of Indian in the slow cooker! Actually, I adapted this recipe for the slow cooker with excitingly good results. As far as tips… I would recommend picking up The Indian Slow Cooker (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1572841117/ref=oh_details_o06_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1). After cooking a bunch of dishes from that book, I got a feel for how to cook Indian in the slow cooker… and then you just play around with non-slow cooker recipes until you get them just right! I use a very slightly modified version of the curry base from this website it lots of dishes–which makes setting up the slow cooker in the morning SUPER easy and guarantees a hot dinner!

  5. balvinder

    I am loving your blog. this curry. The beautiful yellow color of turmeric also makes you beautiful if you use it in face pack with chickpea flour and some other ingredients.

    You have become an Indian cook.

    Reply
    1. Shari Post author

      I’m glad you love the blog! And I’m flattered that you called me an Indian cook :) …that makes me happy!

      I’ve actually found that turmeric does absolute wonders for my face! I have rosacea, so my face is naturally very red. The turmeric helps cover the redness. I use an ubtan that I brought from India. It’s made by Forest Essentials, and it works wonders for me.

      Reply
      1. Shari Post author

        It most definitely can. Especially fingernails. My suggestion is to just be really careful when adding turmeric to things if you’re worried about the stain.

        As for applying it to my face, the slight yellow tint (you really can’t notice the yellow so much) blends with the red…and makes my face look more neutral.

        Also, you can skip adding the turmeric to your blender (it will also stain) and add the whole amount when you add the cumin powder, chile powder, and garam masala. I’ve done it both ways…there is absolutely no difference.

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    1. Shari Post author

      Sorry it took me so long to reply.

      If you don’t have the curry base, you can definitely use fresh chopped tomatoes (I usually use about 2 or 3 roma tomatoes per curry). You’ll also have to saute some onion/garlic/ginger if the recipe doesn’t call for these.

      If the tomatoes taste too acidic, add a little sugar (not much!). If you feel they need a little something extra, add a small dash of lemon juice.

      Be sure to taste the curry as you go, you may have to adjust the spices a little bit.

      I hope this helps…I know it probably seems a little vague. Let me know if you have any questions!

      Reply
  7. JoAnne

    In reading your recipe, I wasn’t sure what you meant by “2 heaping Tbsp. Coconut (preferably unsweetened)”.. do you mean dried coconut?

    Reply
    1. Shari Post author

      I do. I actually buy dried toasted coconut flakes from my local Co-op. 2 tbsp is just a suggestion. I’ve actually been tossing in 2 big pinches (probably closer to 1/4 cup).

      Reply
      1. JoAnne

        This is more of a practical question.. I noticed that you have a Vitamix and wondered if the tumeric stains the plastic container when you mix it? How long will leftovers of this dish last in the refrigerator? We’re starting to get cold weather here, and this dish looks like just the thing to warm the insides.

      2. Shari Post author

        JoAnne,

        Great questions! Yes, the turmeric slightly stains the plastic container of my vitamix, but the yellow tint seems to disappear the more I wash it. It’s kind of annoying, and looks a little weird, but there is no residual tastes or smells left behind.

        In my experience the left-over korma stays fresh and delicious for at least a week. It tastes best 2-3 days after you make the dish.

        I hope you like it! It’s perfect for Autumn!

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  9. Mozette

    Love, love, love veggie Korma… it’s one of the dishes I found by accident and have always ordered in a good Indian restaurant here in Brisbane, Australia. :D

    Yummo!

    And just last night, my Dad bought some for me as a belated Birthday Dinner (as we missed having a big dinner because Mum’s been sick in hospital – but she’s coming home today) and we had it with rice… delicious! :D

    Reply
    1. Shari Post author

      Korma is incredible…and would be a wonderful birthday dinner.

      I’m sorry to hear about your mother, I hope she is doing much better!

      Reply
  10. Tor

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve been frightened of making vegan korma because the ingredients lists are always horrendous, but this definitely looks doable. I’m not sure if I could find fenugreek leaves, though – is there anything I can replace them with?

    Reply
    1. Shari Post author

      I think the fenugreek really adds a little something to the curry, but you can definitely leave them out.

      If you have an Indian or Asian market nearby you could check there. They often have the dried variety.

      I hope you like the curry! It’s definitely one of my favorites!

      Reply
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  12. Shellie

    All I can say is thank you. I love the Navratan Kormas served in the local Indian restaurants in my area. This recipe was exactly like the restaurant. Delicious. My family loved it. I will be whipping up a batch of the Curry Base and keeping it in my freezer always.

    Reply
  13. Heather

    This looks wonderful and I can’t wait to try it. My problem is that it must be nut free — bummer. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    1. Shari Post author

      You can definitely leave out the cashews. The flavor will be affected a little, but I don’t think it’ll make that big of a difference in the grand scheme of things. Maybe try adding a little extra coconut milk, although I suppose coconuts are nuts as well. Hmm… a korma might not be the best option. I’ll post a really satisfying veggie curry recipe sometime (very similar recipe, minus the nuts, dried fruits and coconut milk), I hope that’ll work for you instead.

      Reply
  14. poohalicious

    I am waiting to try this for Easter tomorrow. I have vegetarian and non-vegetarian guests over. I hope I can use your curry base and divide the curry in two parts and throw in veggies in half and make this dish and throw in chicken in the other half! Could you suggest what can I do with the chicken? Fingers crossed that it will work. I am a new food blogger. I belong to the Western parts of India and exploring age old traditional cooking..Loved your blog! I wish you all the luck in your life and cooking experiments :-)

    Reply
    1. Shari Post author

      Hello! I hope you love this curry as much as I do! For the chicken, if you are cooking it tonight (the night before serving) I would just cut it into bite-size chunks and cook it in the dutch oven before any of the other ingredients are added. Then remove it from the pot and set aside. Follow the recipe and add the chicken back in towards the end. Toss it in the fridge overnight so the chicken can soak up some of the flavor.

      If you are cooking it the same day as serving, I suggest marinading the chicken in a little yogurt, ginger, garlic, a bit of garam masala, a smidgen of chili powder and a squeeze of lemon juice. Let it marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. Then, cook up the chicken in the dutch oven–remove when done and set aside. Go on with the recipe and add the chicken back in after you blend up the curry sauce.

      I hope this helps!!! Good luck with the cooking (and the blogging!) and have a very happy Easter! :)

      Reply
      1. poohalicious

        Hi Shari,

        I saw your reply now! But I have already cooked the chicken! It looks fantastic! I am not good at vegetarian cooking! crossing fingers for the Korma! But thank you for all the tips! :-D I did make lesser curry base since I am new to this and am going to use it all up today! I will give full credits to you if I do post about the Jalfrezi and Korma! :-D Happy Easter!

  15. Danny Hopkins

    Thank you SO MUCH for this recipe. I don’t usually eat vegan food (or much curry, for that matter), but my dad asked me to make him a good meal. Since my last curry was a bit of a failure, I did a bit of hunting and your recipe looked very promising. After a day’s worth of spice hunting, chopping and blender-washing I finally tasted the result, and oh my god, it was the greatest veggie dish I’ve had in a very long time. This was fantastic, you’re the best!

    Reply
    1. Shari Post author

      Danny,

      Thank you so much for trying my recipe and for coming back to leave me such a nice comment!

      I’m happy you and your dad enjoyed the curry! It seriously took me ages to figure out the *secret* to a good Korma. Once I nailed it, I had to share!

      Reply
  16. Chris

    You, ma’am, are amazing! This is one of my favourite dishes at our own local indian place, however it’s next to impossible for me to make at home. A lot of the recipes I’ve looked at asked for Almonds instead of the Cashews (which is my favourite part). My grandparents want to try indian food, before I go back up north, I think this’ll be the dish that I start them out with. Thanks for the recipe. I can’t wait to try it!

    Reply
  17. Journey

    I lived in England as a teenager and fell in love with korma, and have been craving it ever since, but I can’t stand to spend $14 on a meal. I made this, it turned out phenomenal, this will be one of my stand by recipes. Thank you, thank you, thank you
    Journey

    Reply
    1. Shari Post author

      Journey,
      Thank you, thank you, thank you for trying the recipe! I’m so happy you liked it!
      Personally, this is my absolute favorite curry…it definitely rivals my local take-away!

      Reply
  18. mooncake44

    Love your site! I have been experimenting lately with Indian cooking and have had a LOT of luck with substituting coconut or almond milk for the 1/2 and 1/2 called for in recipes. Easy to keep it vegan and really rounds out the flavors and texture. Thank you for the curry base, SO helpful for a family of 5!

    Reply
    1. Shari Post author

      Thank you! :)

      Yes, I often use coconut milk instead of cream or 1/2 and 1/2 as well. It adds a little sweetness to the curry as well. I’m so glad you enjoy the curry base recipe!

      Reply
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    1. Shari Post author

      Marian,

      Half and half is a mixture of half whole milk and half cream. If you can’t find half and half, you can substitute whole milk or cream only. :) Hope that helps!

      Reply
    1. Shari Post author

      half and half is simply half amount whole milk and half amount cream. Sorry…when I posted this I didn’t realize it was mostly an American thing…lol! Hope this helps! :)

      Reply
  20. Dave

    Fellow Minnesotan,
    My entire family loved your veg korma this evening. Seconds and thirds were had by some including my 3 year old daughter. Thanks for such a great post and recipe.
    I’m curious to try your spin on Palak paneer. If I can master that too, we won’t need to order out again.
    Your curry gravy was great. Do you have a list/link to all the recipes you use it in?
    Thanks

    Reply
  21. awilson3rd

    I have been looking for an ‘authentic’ tasting curry base for some time. Coming from the UK and now living in Spain makes it difficult. I made the base last week and made the Korma today (with chicken) and it is the ‘most’ alike to that which I used to eat in Indian Restaurants. I also found time to to make some ghee to cook the curry and the rice with and wow! The smell of the ghee cooking and the taste is amazing! nutting and almost like liquid butterscotch

    Thanks for your wonderfully inspiring recipes. Would love it if you found time to create a butter chicken one with the base. I am also trying out more Indian vegetarian recipes, made Aloo Gobi last week – amazing flavours.

    Next it’s on to the Paneer!

    Thanks again,

    Andrew

    Reply
  22. Vasanthi

    I loved your curry base and had a fantastic result. The only change i made used poppy seeds soaked in water and ground into a paste is a good substitute for cashews. This is just a thickening agent and you could totally omit this. Your recipe has by far been the best for Navratan kurma. At the end i added few chunks of pineapple (a must), grapes (green and Black) plantain. All the fruits together to be around 1 1/2 cups, just mixed in and let in the stove for 2 minutes. Yummy!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks

    Reply
  23. amber b

    holy crap, woman, this is fantastic! i made it for dinner tonight for a family christmas party and it took everything in me to not rave about how amazing it was and come across as a super prideful cook! i’m giddy knowing i have so many jars of the base in my freezer now – i can’t wait to make it again! i’ve tried a few indian recipes before, but this was hands down the most legit tasting thing i’ve made. cyber fist bump.

    Reply
    1. Shari Post author

      I’m so glad you like the recipe! I can relate to you! When I first got this recipe right, I couldn’t stop talking about how incredible it was! I drove my husband nuts!

      I hope you find some other recipes on my blog that turn out just as awesome! Cheers!

      Reply
  24. Rina

    Thanks for an awesome and easy recipe. I made it tonight. I didn’t have cashew nuts so I stirred a spoonful of peanut butter in. Delicious.

    Reply
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  26. Eva

    I made this last night. It looked beautiful and tasted… okay. I can’t figure out what I did wrong, but it turned out bland. How much salt do you usually add at the end? It seems like most folks commenting had great results, so I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what I missed. Maybe not enough tomatoes in my curry base? I know it’s not possible for you to taste what I made, but what are your solutions when something you make turns out a little bland? Suggestions?

    Reply
    1. Shari Post author

      Hello Eva! I’m sorry your curry turned out a little bland. Most of the time it’s really a simple fix of adding a little lemon juice. There have been occasions when even mine didn’t turn out perfect–usually when I’ve used fresh, heirloom tomatoes in my base. The extra acidity from the lemon juice (be sure to add a little at a time, taste as you go) has always brightened up the flavors and saved the curry for me. I hope this helps. You can add a little salt, but in my experience it’s always been the acidity.

      Reply

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