Butter Chicken Served with Rice

Authentic Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) Recipe – So Rich and Creamy

Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani to give it it’s correct name, is a typical Punjabi dish which is now popular in many countries all over the world.

It is a rich creamy dish and can be made as mild or as spicy as you like and has to be one of my all-time favourite curries to make and eat.

What is Butter Chicken?

Butter Chicken, although similar, shouldn’t be confused with Chicken Tikka Masala.  Chicken Tikka Masala originated in the UK where as Butter Chicken is a true Punjabi dish taking it’s influence from hundreds of years of Punjabi tradition and history.

Butter Chicken is typically a very rich dish, as is typical with cuisine from the Punjab, historically due to the amount of calories that the rural people burned whilst working in the fields during the day.

First the chicken is marinated with garlic, ginger, chilli, yogurt, lemon juice and other spices and then traditionally cooked in clay oven or tandoor.

The sauce is prepared separately and consists of spices, butter and cream to give the curry a luxurious smooth richness.

This Butter Chicken Recipe is based on another sweary Gordan recipe that is super easy to make and results in a classic that I’ve adapted for my fine tuned palate 🙂

Butter Chicken Origins

Butter Chicken Recipe

Easy Butter Chicken Recipe

Originally created during in the 1950s, its invention is attributed to three Punjabi restaurateurs, Kundan Lal Jaggi, Kundan Lal Gujral and Thakur Dass, who founded the world-renowned Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi.

The original Recipe for this curry came about as a solution to a problem – Tandoor cooked chicken can become slightly dry sometimes if left in the tandoor and not wanting to waste anything, the chefs were looking for a way to make the chicken more moist.

The answer came when a customer came to their restaurant and wished to order a chicken curry, but there was only tandoori chicken available.

The chef decided to create a “gravy” or sauce to go with the chicken which originally was made from cream, butter and tomatoes and a few spices.

They realised that this would be the ideal way to rehydrate the tandoori chicken and butter chicken was born!  From that day, it has become one of the most popular dishes in Indian cuisine.

Chicken & Marinade Preparation

  1. From the Chicken Ingredients, add the cubed chicken, garlic, ginger, chilli, salt and lemon juice into a large bowl. Make sure the chicken is well coated, cover the bowl and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  2. Now mix the garam masala, tumeric, cumin and yohurt and add to the chicken, again making sure that the chicken is well coated with the mixture. Cover and marinate for at least another 2-3 hours in the fridge although overnight is preferable.
  3. When you’ve finished marinating the chicken, preheat the oven to 180C and after placing the chicken pieces on a grill rack, bake them for 8-10 mins.
  4. Now remove the chicken from the oven and brush with a little oil and turn then over.
  5. Put back into the over and bake for another 10-12 mins or until the the chicken is just cooked through.

Butter Chicken Sauce Preparation

  1. Heat the ghee/butter in a large frying pan and once it’s hot, add the crushed garlic and ginger and fry for 1-2 minutes only
  2. Now add the chilli powder, cardamom, garam masala, cloves, coriander and turmeric and stir well frying for another 1-2 minutes
  3. Then stir in the tomato puree with the lemon juice and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add the already cooked chicken pieces and the butter and cream and stir gently until the butter has melted and the sauce becomes smooth.
  5. Add more seasoning if neccesary and when ready serve and garnish with chopped corriander

Preparation time: 30mins, but don’t forget about all the marinating!

Cooking time: 30m

Number of servings (yield): 4

Butter Chicken Served with Rice

Authentic Butter Chicken / Murgh Makhani Recipe

Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani is a rich creamy dish and can be made as mild or as spicy as you like and has to be one of my all-time favourite curries to make and eat.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Marinade Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 450 kcal

Ingredients
  

Butter Chicken Marinade Ingredients

  • 800 g skinless boneless chicken cut into 3cm pieces You can use thighs if like as some people think chicken thighs have more flavour
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves finely crushed / chopped
  • 2 cm cube peeled ginger finely grated / chopped
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½– 1 tsp hot chilli powder
  • tsp lemon juice
  • 75 ml natural yoghurt
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil

Authentic Butter Chicken Curry Ingredients

  • tbsp ghee or melted unsalted butter
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves finely crushed / chopped
  • 2 cm stick peeled ginger finely grated / chopped
  • Seeds from 1 cardamom pod lightly crushed
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 -2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1-3 tsp hot chilli powder Add to your taste
  • 300 ml tomato passata or chopped tomatoes blitzed until super smooth
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 40 g unsalted butter
  • 250 ml 1 cup of double cream (heavy cream) or Crème Fraîche for a lighter version
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander for garnish

Instructions
 

Butter Chicken Recipe – Chicken & Marinade Preparation

  • From the Chicken Ingredients, add the garlic, ginger, chilli, salt, lemon juice, garam masala, tumeric, cumin and yoghurt into a large bowl and mix well
  • Now add the chicken pieces making sure that the chicken is well coated with the mixture. Cover and marinate for at least another 30 mins in the fridge although overnight is preferable.
  • Preheat the oven to 180C and after place the marinaded chicken pieces on a grill rack and bake for 8-10 mins.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and brush with a little oil and turn then over.
  • Put back into the oven and bake for another 10-12 mins or until the the chicken is just cooked through.

Butter Chicken Recipe – Curry Preparation

  • Heat the ghee/butter in a large frying pan and once it’s hot, add the crushed garlic and ginger and fry for 1-2 minutes only
  • Now add the chilli powder, cardamom, garam masala, cloves, coriander and turmeric and stir well frying for another 1-2 minutes
  • Then stir in the tomato puree with the lemon juice and cook for a further 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the already cooked chicken pieces and the butter and cream (or Crème Fraîche) and stir gently until the butter has melted and the sauce becomes smooth.
  • Add more seasoning if neccesary and when ready serve and garnish with chopped corriander

Nutrition

Calories: 450kcal
Keyword Butter Chicken, Murgh Makhani, Creamy, Chicken, Curry
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Is Butter Chicken a Curry?

Yes, it most certainly is a curry.  If you follow my recipe, you can make it as hot or as mild as you like by varying the amount of chilli that you add.

Personally, I love a spicy Butter Chicken!

Is Butter Chicken the Same as Chicken Tikka Masala?

Although they appear similar, they are two completely different curries altogether.

While both are quite creamy curries with chicken as their main ingredient, butter chicken typically is made with butter and has more cream added to it than its spicier cousin.

Is Murgh Makhani the same as Butter Chicken?

They are one and the same.  Traditionally  called “Murgh Makhani“, it is an Indian curry which is made from chicken with a rich spiced tomato and butter sauce.

Its sauce is known for its rich, flavoursome taste and texture and is where it gets it’s name from.

What do you eat Butter Chicken With?

If you want to be more traditional, you can eat this curry with basmati rice, chapatis or naan breads.  Alternatively you might like chips, pancakes or Yorkshire puddings with your Murgh Makanh.

Is this Butter Chicken Recipe Very Spicy?

You can vary the heat of this recipe by adding less chilli to the marinade and also to the curry sauce.  If like me, you like a spicy curry then you will want to add more.

Why is Butter Chicken so Good?

The secret to a good Butter Chicken is the spice infused yogurt marinade made with fresh ginger, garlic, lemon juice and spices – The spices in Butter Chicken are turmeric, garam masala, chilli powder, cloves, cardamon and cumin.

Why is it Called Butter Chicken?

The curry was developed in the 1950s by the founders of the Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi, India. The curry was made “by chance” by mixing leftover tandoori chicken in a tomato gravy, rich in butter and cream.

Is Butter Chicken the same as Murgh Makhani?

Butter Chicken is the also know as Murgh Makhani.  Murgh means chicken and Makhani translates as “luxurious” which refers the to the rich buttery and creamy sauce.

Try Some of my Other Recipes…

Take a look at my favourite authentic Chicken Madras Recipe or if you’re looking for something more spicy try the best vindaloo recipe you’ll find online…

I hope you love this scrummy simple and easy recipe as much as I do, and if you do then please tell us all about it in the comments below

26 thoughts on “Authentic Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) Recipe – So Rich and Creamy

  1. altaf

    This curry turns out fantastic.
    I add a bit of honey at the end to help with the tart taste.
    Also blitz some cashews and chuck in at the end to give a more textured flavour.
    All my family love it

    Reply
  2. pollycfc

    I’ve cooked this several times but have never used tomato puree. Using pasata is a great shout as it’s blended already. It’s a wonderful dish if you don’t rush the marinating process. Lemon juice is key in the first process as it does make the chicken very tender. I absolutely swear by this recipe, it’s blinding!

    Reply
  3. Bob Spiers

    I have now tried the recipe twice, and the second time with the following modifications proved a success with my wife who found the original to the published recipe too tart, mainly I believe because of the excessive lemon content and tomato puree . For the second attempt I used abt a tea spoonful of lemon for the marinade, but none in the sauce. I also used passata and cooked it out and stirred in a table spoon of honey. Before serving I added 50ml crème fraiche and a generous handful of fresh coriander. The end result came pretty close to our favourite Indian restaurant Makhani and a big improvement on the original.

    Reply
  4. Louis

    Congrats… An excellent version of BT that puts many fast food Indian restaurants to shame. This dish has become one of my family standards and I wholeheartedly recommend it to all from the novice to the seasoned curry fan. Try variations too, including making your own garam masala. I use kashmir chili powder because it has more flavour than heat and my own green massa because I grow my own chilis.

    Reply
  5. Rachel

    I absolutely love this recipe. Have made it several times now. I use pasata instead of tomato puree though and it makes a lovely smooth and still rich sauce.

    Reply
  6. Ann-Marie

    I cooked this recipe for my family.
    They thought it was delicious and the best curry I have made to date which is praise indeed as I have made quite a few!

    Reply
  7. David AUS

    Thank you, I have been looking for a butter chicken like this… Its nearly the best I have tasted. I have tried a few from the web and many restaurants.

    FYI the best I tasted was from the LovelyIndia restaurant in Rotorua New Zealand. It’s their signature dish, if you visit NZ you have to try it.

    I followed Willa’s suggestion and simmered out the liquid from the tomato puree to a very thick consistency and also added some honey (2tbls) and it was so close to the above restaurant’s dish. The heat … the flavor, fantastic.

    lillian, You should try it again following Willa’s suggestion.

    Thanks for the recipe David.

    Reply
  8. Maria

    Butter chicken is one of my favourite meals to have at an Indian restaurant but my husband is vegetarian so I just made the sauce to have with quorn fillets. I followed the recipe to the letter but I still thought it was vile and quite different from any butter chicken sauce I’d ever had before. Only one star from me, I’m afraid. 🙁

    Reply
  9. Sarah

    I thought this was great! I left the lemon juice out of the sauce after reading the review that it made the sauce too tart. Next time I’ll probably add it in and see. Wonderful tasting as well as gorgeous looking – thanks so much!!

    Reply
  10. Maxine

    Just made this. We quite liked it, but thought the sauce was a bit tart. I think next time I’ll try leaving out the lemon juice

    Reply
  11. lillian

    made this curry for friends and we all felt that there was far too much tomato puree in the recipe, that totally spoiled the meal, so much so not an emptly plate all round, quote 10/10 for presentation and 2/10 for butter chicken. will not make this meal again!!!!!!

    Reply
    1. David Post author

      Hi Lillian
      It is supposed to be quite a rich dish, hence the tom puree, but if you like you can replace it with a tin of chopped tomatoes or 400gm of finely chopped / blitzed tomatoes, but remember to alter the cooking times to compensate.

      I’ll edit the recipe to reflect this..

      Reply
      1. Willa

        I learned how to make butter chicken from an Indian woman, and I think what this recipe doesn’t say is that after adding the tomato puree, you must simmer until it cooks out. There should not be any liquid left, only a thick coating on the onions. Then add the chicken. This will leave the recipe not tasting of tomato. x

        Reply
  12. Michael

    Third time using this recipe as a guide for making curry at home. My variables have been to include veggies (squash and potatoes) as well as swapping in lamb or, this time, pork. Thank you for sharing the original recipe!

    Reply
  13. Graham

    Hi, I’m going to try this as my kids love buttered chicken. Shouldn’t buttered chicken use fenugreek leaves? It would give the curry a unique flavour.

    Reply

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