Butter Chicken Recipe

Butter chicken is a popular Indian recipe for good reason- it’s creamy, flavor-packed, and comforting that will leave your family wanting seconds.

Butter chicken

Also called chicken makhani, butter chicken is tender, juicy, traditionally grilled (tandoori( chicken cooked in an aromatic, spicy tomato-based sauce. 

It is believed it was invented in the 1930s at a restaurant in Delhi that would often have large portions of leftover tandoori. The large pieces were chopped up and tossed in a creamy, tomato gravy. Thus butter chicken was born.

Butter chicken vs tikka masala

White butter chicken and tikki masala may seem very similar, they are different in texture and flavor. Tikki masala is a very British dish, in fact it is the national dish of England.

Tikki masala is spicy, hot and the chicken is simmered in a gravy containing onions. Indian butter chicken is milder, sweeter compared to chicken tikki masala, and doesn’t contain onions.

The biggest difference between the two is that chicken tikki masala is cooked in oil, whereas butter chicken is cooked in butter, resulting in a smoother, silliker gravy. 

Served with saag paneer and basmati rice

How to make butter chicken

Original butter chicken is made with tandoori grilled chicken, but since I don’t have a tandoori, I cooked the chicken in a pan. But the first step is to cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and marinate.

The marinade consists of several spices, a little lemon juice, salt, garlic, ginger, and full fat yogurt. The practice of marinating protein in yogurt goes back to as early as the 13th century, and it’s easy to see why.

Yogurt’s lactic acid tenderizes the meat, resulting in incredibly juicy, tender chicken. Marinate for about 12 hours and then you’re ready to go.

Yogurt-based marinade

At this point you will add a small pad of butter to a skillet and cook the chicken until it’s done and the moisture has evaporated.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove from the pan and start making the sauce. Start by heating some butter and adding cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. 

Add tomato puree and softened cashews in a blender and blend until smooth. Thanks to the large amount of starch in cashews, they are a wonderful natural thickening agent and add lovely flavor to the dish.

Heat those up so they become fragrant, usually a minute or two, and then add garlic, ginger, and green chilis. Next, dump in your tomato/cashew puree with salt, sugar, red chili powder, coriander, and cumin.

Once it gets thick and begins to leave the sides of the pan, pour in about a cup of water. You can add a little more or less depending on how thick you like your gravy.

After it’s simmered for a few minutes, it’s time to add the chicken, garam masala, and kasoori methi, and let it simmer for a few minutes.

Pour in some chilled cream, remove from the stove and garnish with cilantro. The cream really takes this butter chicken to a very decadent level.

a plate of butter chicken and rice

Butter Chicken

Author: Maddy & JD – Them Bites
Creamy, delicious butter chicken is the ultimate flavor-packed comfort food your whole family will love.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 12 hrs 30 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 12 hrs 50 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Indian
Servings 6 people
Calories 174 kcal

Ingredients
  

For the marinade

  • 2 lb skinless, boneless chicken (thighs or breasts) cut into bite sized pieces
  • ¾ cup full fat plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 3 tbp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tb lemon juice

For the gravy

  • 2 tb ghee
  • 1 tb ginger garlic paste
  • 1 3 in piece of cinnamon stick
  • 4 cardamon pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 15 – 20 blanched cashews
  • 14 oz tomato puree
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 2 tb cilantro leaves, chopped

Recipe Instructions
 

  • Place chicken in a bowl. Add all the marinade ingredients- yogurt, garam masala, turmeric, ginger garlic paste, chili powder, lemon juice, salt- and mix together. Cover and refrigerate. Let marinate for up to 12 hours.
  • Add the cashews and tomato puree to a blender and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  • Add 1 tb of ghee to skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until done. Set chicken aside.
  • Heat skillet over medium heat with ghee, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, and cloves for about a minute. Add garlic ginger paste and green chilis. Cook until it becomes fragrant.
  • Next add the tomato cashew puree, salt, sugar, and red chili powder. Let simmer until it thickens, about 10 minutes.
  • Add 1 cup of water, more or less depending on your desired consistency. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 5 minutes. Taste for salt and add as needed.
  • Add chicken, garam masala, and coriander. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Add dried fenugreek leaves. Pour in cold cream and remove from heat. Garnish with cilantro and more cream if desired. Serve with naan, paratha, or basmati rice.

Nutrition

Calories: 174kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 3gFat: 14gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 39mgSodium: 438mgPotassium: 389mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 809IUVitamin C: 9mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 2mg
Keyword butter chicken recipe, Butter chicken vs tikka masala, Garlic butter chicken, Indian butter chicken
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2 Responses

  1. 5 stars
    My family loves going out for Indian so I was so excited to make this at home. It made a lot and everyone loved it- even my youngest who is so picky!

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