Yes, I just claimed this vegetable korma as the best stew ever. It is delicious, creamy and tastes nothing like any other vegetable dish you might have had. So what makes it special and authentic? Its all in the ingredients – when you bring together coconut, cilantro, mint, poppy seeds, cashews and aromatics together for the base, it truly brings this dish alive.This was also a dish that I grew up eating regularly at home and outside. So this dish and flavors are something I am very familiar with.
Here I have used kolhrabi as the main vegetable along with green beans, carrots. You can use other vegetables of your choice including potatoes, cauliflower, zucchini, green peas etc. This dish is inherently vegan and gluten-free like a lot of Southern Indian vegetarian dishes.
What is vegetable korma and how is it different from sagu?
Vegetable korma is a vegetarian stew containing a combination of vegetables in a delicious fragrant gravy. It is very popular in various parts of the country and this recipe is more inspired by the southern Indian style. It goes great with various dishes like rava idlis(shown above), parottas, pooris, dosai.
Vegetable sagu is also a vegetarian stew typically containing potatoes or a combination of vegetables in a delicious, fragrant gravy. It is a very popular staple in Southern Indian eateries that you find in my home state of Karnataka especially the ‘darshinis’. Sagu is almost always served alongside rava idlis and pooris.
I would argue both are pretty much the same dish depending on where in the country you are while enjoying it. There might be some regional variations like including or leaving out a few ingredients but thats true for all dishes.
Vegetable korma is a super flavorful and delicious dish that you will come back to time and time again. When you look at the ingredient list, it might seem quite long but dont feel daunted. Most of the work is prepping the vegetables and gathering the ingredients for the gravy.
Other vegetable forward dishes you might enjoy
Ingredient list for vegetable korma
I used a combination of kolhrabi, green beans and carrots. Kohlrabi is a popular vegetable in parts of Southern India although it is not a traditional Indian vegetable at all. It belongs to the cauliflower/broccoli family and is a round, light green bulbous vegetable. It has a very mild, slightly sweet flavor. Here in the US, I have seen kolhrabi mostly in Indian stores, farmer’s market and some high end super markets. Do shop around since the prices vary wildly between stores. It is also a great option if you are looking for a low carb replacement for potatoes. If you would like to stick potatoes, that will work great as well. You can also use green peas or a combination of vegetables like I did.
The quickest way to speed up the cooking process is to steam the vegetables you are using. This will ensure the vegetables are already cooked and will not need to be cooked on the stove top for a long time. Steaming them for around 10-12 minutes should easily suffice. If you decide not to steam the vegetables, you will just have to cook the raw veggies in the gravy a little longer for around 20 minutes or so until they are fully cooked.
All the ingredients for gravy is first added to the blender with some water and ground in to a paste. We will then cook this raw paste before adding the steamed/raw vegetables.
Aromatics – We will use garlic and ginger as the aromatics. If you want to avoid garlic, you can use shallots instead.
Nuts and seeds – Cashews, fresh coconut, poppy seeds and roasted split chickpeas are used to make the gravy more balanced and add a creamy element. If you dont want to use cashews, then almonds also work great. Make sure to soak them in hot water and remove the skin before grinding.
White poppy seed are typically used while making korma. If you cant find any poppy seeds where you live, feel free to skip it.
As for split chickpeas, I would suggest directly heading to an Indian store or online to buy some if you dont regularly use it.In Hindi, it is called ‘tala hua chana’, ‘hurigadale’ in Kannada and ‘pottu kadalai’ in Tamil. As the name suggests it is roasted split chickpeas and is light yellow in color along with a shiny, smooth appearance. It is also lovely to munch on its own or to use while making a Southern Indian style chutney. Again not an absolute necessity but would be nice to have if you can find it.
For coconut, you can use freshly grated or frozen grated coconut. If using frozen, then slightly warm it the microwave to help blend well. You can also sub with thick coconut milk, the kind you get in a can. I would say third of a can should suffice.
Whole spices – The whole spices used are fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom. I used only the cardamom seeds and not the pod.You can also add the entire pod while grinding. .
Herbs – Fresh cilantro(coriander leaves) and mint are both important while making korma. They both add lots of flavor so dont skip any.
Heat – We typically use Indian green chillis. Depending on your heat tolerance, I would suggest between 2-4. You can also substitute with 1-2 jalapeno or anaheim peppers if you prefer the food to be less hot.
Other ingredients – Before adding the ground paste in to the pan, we will cook some onions, tomatoes and season with salt and turmeric. We will also add a little bit of sugar or jaggery to bring a hint of sweetness.
Pro Tip: While grinding the paste, if you find it too spicy for your liking then add some more coconut or cashews before grinding again. This will help balance the heat.
What to serve with vegetable korma? How to store leftovers?
Korma goes very well with Indian dishes like deep fried bread called poori. It is particularly well suited for Southern Indian dishes including rava idlis, parotta, dosa. However, being a versatile dish it also goes great with regular flatbread like roti/chapati or even plain steamed white rice/pulao as well.
You can store it in refrigerator for up to 2-3 days and you can reheat on the stove top or in the microwave. You can also freeze the korma for up to a couple of months. Be mindful about the vegetable textures though since they might not hold up to the freezing and reheating process. Let the frozen korma thaw overnight if possible before reheating.
Let me know what you think of this delicious vegetable korma. Personally it is one of my top 5 favorite dishes ever! If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please leave them below and I will get back soon. Want to share your creations on Insta? Tag me using #dillandthyme. You can also follow along on Pinterest and Facebook.
Authentic Vegetable Korma
For the Korma Masala(gravy base)
- 1 tbsp Fennel Seeds
- 2 tbsp Roasted Split Chickpeas
- 2 tsp White Poppy Seeds
- 1/3 cup Raw Unsalted Cashews
- 3 tbsp Fresh or Frozen Coconut
- 4 Cloves
- 4 Cardamom Seeds removed from pods
- 1 inch Cinnamon
- 1/2 inch Fresh Ginger
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 2-4 Indian Green Chillis stalks removed
- 1/4 cup Mint Leaves washed and stalk removed
- 1/4 cup Cilantro(Coriander) Leaves washed and roughly chopped
- 1 large Onion peeled and finely chopped
- 3 medium Tomatoes washed and diced
- 2 medium Kolhrabi peeled and diced
- 1/2 cup Green Beans chopped
- 1/2 cup Carrots diced
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 2 tsp Sugar
- Handful of Cilantro leaves washed and roughly chopped
- 2 cups Water
- 2 tbsp Avocado/Sunflower Oil
- Salt to taste
- Steam the kohlrabi, green beans and carrots for 10 minutes. Let it cool down for 10 minutes. While the vegetables are being steamed, assemble all the ingredients for the gravy masala. Place the ingredients for the masala in the blender, add 1/2 cup of water and blend until completely smooth. Keep aside.
- In a large pan, heat 2 tbsp of oil. Add the chopped onions and saute for 3-4 minutes. Now add the tomatoes and mix well. Add the turmeric and season with some salt. Let this mixture cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the ground korma masala paste. Now add 1 1/2 cups of water and mix well. Add the sugar and some more salt. Cover the pan with a lid and let this mixture cook for around 10 minutes. Ensure the gravy does not have raw flavors of ginger or garlic once done.
- Now add the steamed vegetables. Mix and simmer for a couple of minutes. If the gravy is very thick, add 1/2 cup water. Season with more salt if required and top with the remaining cilantro before serving hot.
- Add only 1-2 green chillis or substitute with jalapeno/anaheim pepper to keep the heat low. After grinding the gravy masala, if it does taste too hot, add some more coconut/cashews and grind in to a paste again. This should help balance the heat.
- Use any vegetables you have on hand like potatoes, cauliflower, green peas, zucchini.
- Ensure the raw masala paste cooks well before mixing in the vegetables.
- Vegetable korma is a very versatile dish. You can serve it with steamed rice, flatbread like roti, parotta or naan. It goes really well with fried bread like pooris or with breakfast dishes including idlis and dosa.