Monday, March 31, 2014

Butter Chicken ( Murgh Makhani )

Today I am going to post the very well-known but classic Indian Dish called Butter chicken. This rich, buttery and creamy sauce based chicken curry needs no introduction but deserves its worldwide fame. It has become synonymous to Indian curry and to many foreigners, this is the first and safest choice in any Indian restaurants. The original name of the Butter Chicken is Murgh Makhani. While studying the history of this dish, found some interesting information. It was originated in a restaurant called Moti Mahal in Peshawar of undivided India. The person who innovated this moved to India after partition and started his food chain in Delhi. Slowly this group became an Industry and you would find many packaged food with this brand name.

Though every Indian restaurant serves Butter Chicken, there are many versions of this recipe. The process is more or less same though in all versions. First, boneless or with-bone chicken pieces are marinated in a yogurt and spice mixture. Then the chicken is traditionally cooked in a tandoor. If your modern-day Indian kitchen doesn’t have Tandoor, then you can grill, roast or pan-fry the chickens. Finally the chicken is cooked in tomato based thick, rich and creamy gravy. Cashew paste is generally used to thicken the gravy. The Butter Chicken is usually garnished with fresh cream, white butter or with chopped cilantro. It goes well with Naan, Roti, Parathas or with steamed Basmati rice.

Butter Chicken is often mistaken as Chicken Tikka Masala, but these two are not same. In some countries like UK where good number of Indian migrants is there, Chicken Tikka Masala is claimed as a national dish. Though both the recipes look similar, they are quite different. I think, butter is the main difference and it makes the dish bit slick and creamy. After my last post of the recipe for Naan, I was planning to make this Chicken dish, but it took a while to get the authentic taste. I tried 3 to 4 different recipes, but finally this is the one which came very close to the richness of original taste.

Recipe of Butter Chicken : Serves ( 4 to 6 )

Ingredients :

Chicken ( with bone or boneless ) : 2 lbs, washed, and cut into small pieces, preferably thigh or breast pieces. 

For marination :

Lemon juice : 1 tablespoon
Red Chili powder : 1 tablespoon
Salt : 
Plain yogurt ( hung ) or Greek yogurt : 1/2 cup
Garam masala : 1 teaspoon 
Oil ( white oil or mustard oil ) : 2 tablespoon 
Ginger paste : 1 tablespoon 
Garlic paste : 1/2 tablespoon 
Oil / butter / ghee : for basting 

For the Sauce : 

Butter : 4 to 5 tablespoon 
Black Cardamom : 1 
Green Cardamom : 3
Cinnamon stick : 1.5 inch 
Cloves : 3 
Methi / Fenugreek seeds : 1 teaspoon 
Ginger paste : 1 tablespoon 
Garlic paste : 1 tablespoon 
Fresh green chilli pepper : 2 to 3 ( as per tolerance ), slit 
Fresh Tomato puree : 3 to 4 cup 
Red chili powder / paprika / cayenne powder : 1 teaspoon or to taste 
Turmeric powder : a pinch or ( optional )
Cashew nuts : 10, soaked and grounded into a paste
Kasuri Methi (dried fenugreek leaves ) : 1 teaspoon 
Sugar : 1/2 tablespoon 
Garam Masala : 1 teaspoon 
Salt :
Heavy Cream : 1/2 cup 

Method :

1. Add the red chili powder, lemon juice and salt to the chicken, mix it well and let it rest for 15 minutes. 

2. In a bowl, whisk yogurt, garam masala, ginger paste, garlic paste and oil. Pour the marinade over the chicken and rub it well. Refrigerate it for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

3. Take a thick bottomed pan, add the butter and heat it up. Add black cardamom, green cardamoms, cloves, cinnamon and saute for a couple of minutes or until they get aromatic. 

4. Add the fenugreek seeds, once they sizzle add green chillies, and ginger-garlic paste. Saute until they get browned and fragrant. 

5. Add the tomato puree, red chili powder and salt. Cook the mixture over medium heat until the mixture becomes thick and oil starts separating from the all sides of the pan. 

6. While tomatoes are becoming thick, grill the chicken. You can use either an outdoor grill or broiler. Put the chicken on skewers and cook on a grill or a preheated oven at 400 degrees F. Do not overcook, it will take about 10 minutes for each side. Baste with butter or oil while cooking. The chicken may be grilled on a skillet or grill pan on the stove top too. For that, heat the skillet and spray or grease with oil. Place the skewers and cook. Turn them and baste with butter or oil until they are cooked.

7. Once tomato mixture is done caramelizing, lower the flame and add the cashew paste. Mix it well together. Add two cups of warm water and bring it to a boil. 

8. Simmer the sauce for about 10 minutes and add crushed kasuri methi ( dry fenugreek leaves ) and sugar. 

9. Add the grilled chicken pieces and stir it. Cover the pan and simmer it for about 7 to 8 minutes until the chicken pieces are well coated with the sauce. 

10. Add the heavy cream, add garam masala. Stir it well together and cook for about 5 minutes over low heat. 

11. Check the consistency, check seasoning and add salt or sugar if needed. Turn off the gas, Butter Chicken is ready. Garnish with fresh cilantro and drizzle a little extra cream on top and serve. 

Related Post :  Home-made Naan


  1. I love butter chicken! Your photos are beautiful and now I'm hungry reading your post. Looks absolutely delicious!! I pinned too. (p.s. by the way, I think your social icon widget is not working).

    1. Thanks a lot Nami! Thanks for pinning too :) Yes I saw, the social icon widgets are not working, I am very sorry, soon I will work on those!

  2. These look absloutley yummy, i make them often ( well not that often as i am lazy) these looks so good and i love the color too.