With its rich and creamy texture blended with fresh tomatoes, it’s no surprise that butter chicken is one of the most popular dishes in the world. This was always my favourite meal. I would eat bowls of it in one sitting, forgetting that my stomach was full and sopping up the gravy with warm, buttery naan.
It’s important to mention that butter chicken (aka murgh makhani), is similar to chicken tikka masala, but the added butter and varying spices sets this dish apart from tikka masala. Butter chicken originated in Delhi, northern India, and from there, travelled around the world and right into my stomach. Don’t get me wrong, I love all Indian curry dishes, including the amazing deep tomato flavors of Chicken Tikka Masala, but the velvety and gorgeous taste of butter chicken holds a special place in my heart.
I’m so excited to share this recipe with you all! After making this, your kitchen is going to smell amazing and your family will be begging for more. I don’t make this dish all the time because of the *ahem* calories *ahem* but it’s definitely worth ignoring that for a night! Add an Indian pale ale or lager with this curry for an amazing pairing or try a chilled buttery Chardonnay to class it up. Basmati rice and buttered naan should not be forgotten – the more carbs the better to soak up all that delicious curry after! This meal is pure indulgence and that’s why I try (key word: “try”) to avoid this whenever I can because I can’t stop myself once I start eating it.
This recipe has helped me kick my butter chicken craving on numerous occasions. I like marinating the boneless chicken pieces with tandoori masala (found here), yogurt, lemon juice, minced garlic and ginger before cooking it. Sear the chicken on a grill before adding it to the curry, it will seal in the tandoori spices and the chicken will stay juicy and flavourful. Traditionally, the marinated chicken pieces are cooked in a tandoor, but we’ll make do with the kitchen stove. Though I love my curry to be extra spicy, I omitted it from this recipe so that you can adjust the spice-factor to your own taste. Just add in a chilli pepper, sliced down the middle, for a spicy kick or add in some extra chilli powder.
It’s important to not be intimidated by the list of ingredients and instructions to make this dish. Keep a few handy Indian spices in your cupboard (check out my Guide to Indian Spices) and you’ll be ready to cook up this amazing meal with ease.
- 1 lb boneless chicken breasts
- 4 tbsp plain yogurt
- 1 tbsp tandoori masala (find here)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp chopped garlic
- 1 tsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp garam masala
- :1/2 cup unsalted butter
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped garlic
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 3 cloves
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 10 fresh tomatoes, blanched and de-seeded
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- salt and chilli pepper to taste
- To marinate the chicken, dice the chicken and add into a bowl along with the yogurt, tandoori masala, lemon juice, garlic, ginger and 1 tsp garam masala. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to overnight
- When you're ready to make the meal, heat a large skillet on medium-high and saute the chicken in batches to seal in the flavours. The chicken doesn't have to be fully cooked as it will cook later in the curry. Remove the chicken from the skillet and place on a plate to use shortly.
- Add the butter to the skillet along with cumin seeds and cook for approx. 1 minute. Then add the chopped onion, garlic, ginger and spices and cook until fragrant (approx. 1-2 minutes).
- Stir in the chopped tomatoes and tomato paste and cook until tomatoes become soft.
- Carefully remove the cloves and cardamom pods from the skillet and then puree all the remaining ingredients together with a blender. Return to the skillet to continue cooking.
- Add in the chicken pieces, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and 1 cup of cream to the curry and let it simmer until the sauce thickens slightly. Season with salt and chilli pepper.
- Serve with rice and warm naan for the ultimate satisfying meal.