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.
Butter Chicken Origins
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 Butter Chicken 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 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.
This super easy recipe for Butter Chicken Curry is quick to make and uses simple ingredients that most of us already have in our cupboards at home. I typically marinade the chicken the night before to give it the full flavour
Chicken and Marinade Ingredients
- 800g 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
- 2cm peeled ginger finely grated
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ – 1 tsp hot chilli powder
- 1½ tsp lemon juice
- 75ml natural yoghurt
- ½ tsp garam masala
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil
Authentic Butter Chicken Curry Ingredients
- 1½ tbsp ghee or if you can’t get ghee, use melted unsalted butter
- 2 peeled garlic cloves finely crushed / chopped
- 2cm stick peeled ginger finely 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(careful!)
- 300ml tomato passata or chopped tomatoes blitzed until super smooth
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 40g unsalted butter
- 250ml (1 cup) of double cream (heavy cream) or Crème Fraîche for a lighter version
- 1 tbsp chopped coriander for garnish
Butter Chicken Recipe – Chicken Preparation
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Now remove the chicken from the oven and brush with a little oil and turn then over.
- Put back into the over and bake for another 10-12 mins or until the the chicken is just cooked through.
Butter Chicken Recipe – Sauce 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 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
Preparation time: 30mins, but don’t forget about all the marinating!
Cooking time: 30m
Number of servings (yield): 4
I hope you love this scrummy simple and easy Butter Chicken recipe as much as I do, and if you do then please tell us all about it in the comments below and afterwards 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…