Cooking with Alison

Favourite Butter Chicken Recipe

In Indian on March 19, 2011 at am

Depending on the region of India, the restaurant, and the cook, the ingredients used in “butter chicken” curry vary significantly.  This is my recipe for what I believe to be traditional butter chicken (a mild, tomato-based curry).  I researched countless recipes and tested several before creating this one.  Personally, I love it and when I made this for Krystal and Ed, they repeatedly told me how delicious it is.  So I think you’ll like it too, even if it’s not how your local restaurant makes it.  I highly recommend using the dried fenugreek leaves, because they make a huge difference in this simple dish.

Butter Chicken Recipe

serves 4

for the marinade:

5 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless, cut into large bite-sized pieces

1/4 cup + 1/8 cup plain yogurt drained through a cheesecloth (I used Balkan style yogurt)

3 cloves garlic, minced finely

1/2 tbsp grated fresh ginger (I use a Microplane coarse grater)

1 tsp paprika

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/4 tsp ground red chili powder

for the sauce:

1 small onion, shredded in a food processor

14 ounces (1/2 of a 28 ounce) can of pureed tomatoes

1/4 cup heavy cream

3 tbsp salted butter, melted just prior to using

3/4 tsp garam masala

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)

2 tbsp ghee (recipe here) or vegetable oil

1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)

1/2 tbsp honey

optional: 1 tbsp ground cashew nuts  (Note:  Traditionally, ground cashews are used to thicken the sauce.  I have made butter chicken sauce with and without ground nuts and I prefer to leave this out because it gives the sauce a slightly gritty texture.)

optional: chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the marinade spices and coat the chicken pieces.  Then add the garlic, ginger, and yogurt and marinate for up to 4 hours.

When you are ready to make this dish, start by making the sauce.  Heat the ghee or vegetable oil over medium high heat in a medium sized ceramic dutch oven (or heavy bottomed pot or skillet).  Cook the onion until softened and translucent.  Add the garam masala and paprika and cook for another 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Then add the pureed tomatoes and ground cashews (if using).  Add the fenugreek leaves and simmer until thickened.  Note that this will take longer if you are not using ground nuts.  Add salt to taste.

While the sauce is thickening, in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium high heat, cook the chicken (including the marinade) until the outside of the pieces have turned white in colour but the chicken pieces are not fully cooked through, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Then add the chicken pieces to the sauce and simmer for three to five minutes until the chicken is just cooked through.  Stir in the cream, followed by the honey if using and return the sauce to a simmer until the desired thickness is achieved.  Meanwhile, melt the butter and mix it into the sauce.  Plate immediately, garnish with cilantro if using and serve with rice and/or naan.

  1. I`m always up for butter chicken! And you`re right about the fenugreek leaves — they really add to the flavour of this dish. Theresa

  2. Hi Alison,I have marinated the chicken and am about ready to prepare the sauce….. the fridge smells absolutely divine :o). I have to admit when I made the marinade I had a taste test and my goodness the intensity of the flavours and that chilli powder would clear up any cold symptoms lol……. will post on here later this evening after I have finished cooking and will let you know what everyone thinks
    Warm regards
    Jenny( Adelaide / Australia)

  3. Wow what can I say….. this recipe was amazing and everyone loved it. It was so good, that even my 5 year old granddaughter and 16 month old grandson ate it and asked for more :o) Thankyou for a great recipe

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