This Veg Kurma is very popular in South-Indian restaurants, and is served with idiyappam, parotta, or aapam! It’s basically vegetables steamed and then cooked in a coconut-fennel-based gravy!
Vegetable Kurma needs no introduction. But if you’re new to Indian cuisine, Kurma or Korma is a gravy dish with a medley of vegetables. It can also have proteins like chicken, tofu, paneer, etc. The recipe I’m sharing today is a typical restaurant-style vegetable kurma. Served in iconic South-Indian restaurants like Saravana Bhavan, A2B, Ananda Bhavan, and more, this side dish is a wonderful melange of vegetables, spices, and aromatics.
Personally, I’m a huge fan of Idiyappam and Kurma. Idiyappam, a South-Indian version of rice noodles, is the perfect carb vessel to go with a spicy side dish like the kurma. The warming flavors of the chili, curry leaves, and whole spices are offset by the creamy and refreshing taste of cashews, coconut, and cilantro leaves, and you can really get creative with the vegetables that go into the dish! The 2 ingredients that give this kurma a distinct identity are fennel seeds and poppy seeds. While fennel adds a sweet undertone, poppy seeds help thicken the gravy.
What is Veg Kurma or Korma served with?
A whole lotta carbs! This spicy vegetable kurma is served with Chapati / Roti, idiyappam, Aapam, Parotta, and more! It also tastes great with plain rice, idli, or dosa. Think of it as a delicious Indian curry that can be served with any bread or rice-based dish. To gain the best flavors, try not to serve it with an overpowering bread or rice dish.
How to make Hotel-Style Vegetable Kurma?
- Start by making the base of the gravy. The base is a paste made of cashews, chili, garlic, poppy seeds, and fennel seeds. and ginger. You can make this ahead of time. I usually make a small batch, and freeze it in 2 small containers, to use in the future.
- Choosing the right vegetables: ideally, you should avoid vegetables that get too mushy when steamed. So that means eggplants and okra and not good options. Then you should also avoid vegetables that have an overpowering aroma, texture or color. For me – yams, celery, green onions, asparagus, broccoli, and beetroot are a big no-no. Vegetables like chayote squash (chow chow), carrots, green beans, potato, and peas are traditionally used, though you can certainly use any fresh vegetable you like.
- Cooking the vegetables: I’ve made a version where I steam the veggies in a pressure cooker. That’s how my Ma likes to make the kurma. But this version is all made in a cooking pot. I start with the tadka and masalas, then add the vegetables and water and cook until the veggies are steamed, then add the gravy base. This way, I can do everything in a single pot.
- Coconut milk is optional: I highly recommend adding some coconut milk in the end. This mellows down the spices and gives the quintessential South-Indian twist to the veg kurma. But honestly, you can also skip it, considering the cashews and poppy seeds add enough creaminess to the kurma.
Here’s a detailed video on how to make the Vegetable Kurma –
If you’re looking for a quick 1-minute version of the korma recipe, then check out my shortened video on YouTube Shorts or Instagram Reels.
Restaurant-style Vegetable Kurma
For the base:
- 2 TBsp Cashews
- 1 TBsp Poppy Seeds
- 1 TBsp Fennel Seeds
- 1 pc Green Chili Pepper
- 2 pcs Garlic Cloves
- 1 TBsp Ginger
- 1/5 cup Water
For the kurma:
- 1 TBsp Vegetable Oil
- 1 pc Bay Leaf
- 1 inch Cinnamon Stick
- 1 Tbsp Fennel Seeds
- 1 pc Star Anise
- 2-3 pcs Whole Cloves
- 1 small Onion (finely chopped)
- 1 tsp minced Ginger
- 1 tsp grated Garlic
- 1 tsp finely chopped Green Chili Pepper
- 2 tsp Salt (adjust to taste)
- 1 large Tomato pureed ((about 1 cup))
- 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 tsp Red Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Coriander Powder
- 1 pinch Sugar (optional)
- 2-3 cups mixed Vegetables (diced or cubed)
- 4 cups Water (adjust as needed)
- 1/2 cup thinned Coconut Milk (optional)
- 1/4 cup chopped Cilantro Leaves (for garnish)
*Note on Vegetables: Use a combination of the following –
- Green Beans
- Chayote Squash (chow chow)
- Green Peas
- Or any vegetable you have on hand (as long as it wont turn into a mush or overpower the curry)
- Avoid: eggplant, okra, celery, beetroot etc.
The gravy base:
- Soak poppy seeds in 2 TBsp water for 15 minutes. Soak Cashews in water for 15 minutes, discard the water
- To a blender, add the drained cashews, poppy seeds (with the water), fennel seeds, garlic, ginger, green chili, and water
- Grind to smooth paste & set aside
- Note: You can make an extra batch & freeze for upto a month, so the next time you want to make this kurma, you can simply defrost the paste & add it to the gravy!.
Making the Vegetable Kurma:
- In a cooking pot, heat some oil. Then add the whole spices: bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, fennel and fry a few seconds
- Add the onions, ginger, garlic & green chili. Add some salt and sauté on medium heat until the onions are browned (caramelized).
- Add the tomato puree and fry until the raw smell disappears and mixture thickens.
- Add the spices: turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, pinch of sugar and adjust for salt. Fry for few minutes to cook out the spices.
- Add the washed and diced vegetables and mix well with the gravy base.
- Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Cover with a lid, reduce to medium low heat. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft cooked (but still have a bite to them).
- Add the gravy base we earlier made, the coconut milk (optional), adjust water and spices and mix well. Bring to a boil and then turn off.
- Garnish with Cilantro leaves & serve warm with roti, dosa, idli, idiyappam, aapam or any carb you desire!
- If you have leftovers, store in an airtight dish in the refrigerator and consume within 5-7 days.
If you like this recipe, check out some other Indian recipes: