Butter chicken … whenever I think about it, my mouth waters. The soft tender melt in your mouth chicken pieces, the mild creamy curry, and the perfect spice blend. What’s not to like about that?
Butter chicken is not really chicken cooked in butter. It’s an Anglicized word that comes from the Hindi word “Murg Makhani” Murg – chicken, Makhani – buttery. Butter chicken is actually cooked in a sauce made with tomato paste and heavy cream, thus the rich reddish orange colour.
Making butter chicken can be an arduous task, but I simplified it and this butter chicken recipe takes only about an hour to make – including the half hour required to marinate the chicken.
The Ingredients for Butter Chicken
Butter chicken has a lot of ingredients in it and that’s what makes it so delicious and irresistible. You will need fresh yogurt, boneless skinless chicken breasts, garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, fresh green chili, garlic cloves, ginger, red onion, butter, cream, and tomato paste.
One of the most crucial ingredients is dried fenugreek leaves. These give the curry its unique earthy flavour. These can be found in the International aisle of grocery stores or at Indian supermarkets.
For The Marinade
To make butter chicken you need to marinate the chicken for a minimum of half an hour in yogurt and other spices. This is what makes the chicken tender and melt in your mouth.
In a small mixing bowl, combine 1/2 cup fresh yogurt, one minced garlic clove, 1/2 inch of freshly grated ginger, 1/2 green finely chopped chili (optional), 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder, 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder and salt to taste. Mix well so that the yogurt becomes pasty.
Cut the chicken breast into bite size pieces and place them into the marinade. Mix well so all of the chicken pieces are well coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1/2 hr.
Cooking the Marinated Chicken
Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and set aside. In a medium sized heavy bottomed pan, heat 1 tablespoon of butter and add the chicken to the pan (yogurt and all). Do not overcrowd the pan, The idea is to quickly brown the outsides of the chicken and remove it from the pan. So, only cook the chicken for about 2 mins. Do this in stages if your pan can’t hold all of the chicken in a single layer at one time.
Once the chicken has browned, remove it from the pan and set it aside in a bowl. The chicken will be cooked further once you make the sauce and put it back in.
The Curry (Sauce)
In a blender, blend the red onion, 2 garlic cloves, 1 inch fresh ginger, 1 green chili (optional), and 2 tablespoons of water. Put 1 tablespoon of oil in the same pan you cooked the chicken in and pour the blended onion, etc., into the pan. There will be remnants of the yogurt in the pan, but don’t clean the pan. Cook the onion mix until the onion starts to brown.
While the onion mix is cooking, in a small bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of garam masala, 1 teaspoon of cumin powder, and 1 teaspoon of coriander powder with 1 tablespoon of water. In a separate small bowl, combine 1/4 cup of tomato paste with 3 tablespoons of water. Once the onion mix has browned, add the spice mix to the pan and stir quickly to combine. Then add the tomato paste and mix well.
Then add the 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves to the pan and mix well. Let the tomato paste cook for about 1 min. Once the water starts to dry up, the oil will start to separate from the tomato paste.
Now you are ready to add the cream to the pan. Add 1/2 cup cream to the pan and stir well. The curry should already have a beautiful reddish orange hue to it.
Now add the chicken back to the pan and mix it into the sauce very well. Add the 1 tablespoon of dried fenugreek leaves to the sauce and mix well. Let the chicken simmer for about 7-8 mins so that the chicken cooks completely. Constantly stir the pot so that the curry doesn’t burn. The cream in the sauce will cause it to burn if not watched.
The delicious butter chicken is ready to be enjoyed.
- Garnish with some fresh coriander leaves and serve on a bed of rice, or with naan or other types of Indian flatbread.
- Try it with my leftover lentil flatbread.
Have left over butter chicken? Store it in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 2 days. To reheat, remove from the fridge and bring it to room temperature before heating it in a pan. Add a couple of tablespoons of fresh cream on top once it’s heated and ready to be enjoyed. Or, try making my butter chicken tart or even my butter chicken mac and cheese, or my butter chicken poutine.
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Butter Chicken to Die ForCourse: EntreeCuisine: IndianDifficulty: Medium
Try making my butter chicken at home and you’ll wonder why you ever order it in. It’s rich texture and will make your mouth water every time.
- For the marinade
1/2 cup yogurt
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (or paprika for a milder version)
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 inch ginger grated
1/2 green chili (optional)
salt to taste
- For the curry
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 small red onion
2 garlic cloves
1 inch ginger
1 green chili (optional)
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons oil (divided)
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon red chili powder (or paprika for a milder version)
1/4 cup tomato paste
4 tablespoons water
Salt to taste
1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves (known as Kasoori methi)
1/2 cup heavy cream
fresh coriander for garnish
- The marinade
- In a small mixing bowl, add the yogurt, garam masala, red chili powder (or paprika), cumin powder, minced garlic clove, and grated ginger.
- Mix well to form a paste.
- Chop the chicken into bite size pieces.
- Add the chicken to the paste, mix well to coat, and marinate for about 1/2 to 1 hr in the fridge.
- The curry
- In a blender, blend together onion, garlic cloves, ginger, and green chili (if using) with 2 tablespoons of water. Set aside.
- In a medium sized heavy bottomed pan, add the butter and 1 tablespoon of oil. Once the butter has melted, add the marinated chicken (yogurt and all) to the pan.
- Cook the chicken for about 2 mins remove from the pan into a bowl and set aside. You can do this in two batches if your pan isn’t large enough to only have one layer of chicken in it. Do not overcrowd the chicken. The purpose of this is just to brown the chicken from the outside. Do not worry that the chicken is not cooked through. The chicken will continue to cook in the curry and is ready later.
- In the same pan, add a tablespoon of oil. There will be some remnants of the yogurt paste but leave it there.
- Once the oil heats a little (it will sizzle because of the liquid from the yogurt left behind), add the blended onion, ginger, and garlic mix into the pan and cook until the onion starts to brown.
- While the onion mix is cooking, in a small bowl, combine the garam masala, cumin powder, and coriander powder with 1 tablespoon of water. In a separate small bowl, combine the tomato paste with 3 tablespoons of water. Once the onion mix has browned, add the spice mix to the pan and stir quickly to combine. Then add the tomato paste and mix well.
- Add the red chili powder, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves to the pan and let the tomato paste cook for about 1 min. Once the water starts to dry up, the oil will start to separate from the tomato paste.
- Add the heavy cream to the pan and mix well to form the curry.
- To the curry, add the chicken and dried fenugreek leaves and cook it for a further 5-7 mins. Stir the pan on and off to ensure that the curry doesn’t burn.
- Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and enjoy on a bed of rice, or a side of naan.
- – Try this with paneer instead of chicken for a vegetarian version.