Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken
Photo Credits: stu_spivack via Flickr

Succulent pieces of boneless chicken cooked in rich tomato gravy, Butter chicken, is a popular Indian style of cooking chicken. Also known as ‘Murgh Makhani’, this dish is extremely popular among non-vegetarian food lovers, not only in India but all over the world. Butter Chicken is best served with butter naan, roomali roti, chapatti and even steamed rice.


  • Boneless chicken, cleaned                                            400 grams
  • Tomatoes, coarsely chopped                                         10 medium
  • Green chilies, coarsely chopped                                    2
  • Ginger, grated or finely chopped                                  1 tablespoon
  • Garlic cloves, chopped or crushed                                 2
  • Cumin seeds                                                                1 tablespoon
  • Green cardamoms                                                       6 – 8
  • Maces (Javitri)                                                              4 – 5
  • Kashmiri red chili powder (or usual one)                       1 teaspoon
  • Coriander powder                                                        1 tablespoon
  • Garam Masala                                                              1 teaspoon
  • Dried fenugreek leaves, crushed                                   1 tablespoon
  • Cream                                                                         1/2 cup
  • Honey or Sugar                                                            1 tablespoon
  • Salt                                                                             To taste
  • Butter                                                                         4 – 5 tablespoons

Ingredients for Chicken Marinade

  • Kashmiri red chili powder (or usual one)                       1 teaspoon
  • Coriander powder                                                        1 teaspoon
  • Black pepper, crushed                                                  1 teaspoon
  • Ginger paste                                                                1 teaspoon
  • Garlic paste                                                                 1 teaspoon
  • Mustard oil                                                                  1 tablespoon
  • Lemon juice                                                                 1 tablespoon
  • Salt                                                                             1 teaspoon


  1. Cut thoroughly cleaned chicken into 1-1/2 or 2 inch size cubes.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for marinade in a large bowl and add the chicken pieces to it. Mix the pieces in the marinade nicely to evenly coat them. Then keep the bowl in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  3. Place a flat non-stick pan with 1 tablespoon butter on medium heat. When the butter melts, place the marinated chicken pieces on it.

Tip: You may grill the marinated chicken in an electric or gas oven as well.

  1. Cook them flipping over on both sides until the chicken is completely cooked and turns to a nice brown color. You may apply some more butter if required. Keep the grilled chicken pieces aside.

Note: Such grilled or cooked marinated chicken pieces are also called ‘Tikkas’.

Before proceeding make sure the chicken pieces are thoroughly cooked till the center. You can do so by inserting a tooth-pick in them. If it comes out clean and easily, the pieces are done.

  1. Put a deep pan on medium heat with 2 tablespoons butter in it. When it is melts, add cumin seeds, green cardamoms and maces.
  2. After a few seconds add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry for a minute.
  3. Now add chopped tomatoes and green chilies. Cover the pan and lower the heat.
  4. Cook until the tomatoes become tender. Then turn off the heat and let the mixture cool.
  5. Transfer the contents of the pan to a food processor and blend them into a fine puree.
  6. Put the deep pan again on low-medium heat with 1/2 tablespoon butter in it. When the butter melts, strain the puree into the pan.
  7. Cook the gravy on low medium heat for 5 – 6 minutes or until cooked nicely. Check the consistency of the gravy, it should be medium thick and silky.
  8. Add the red chili powder, honey (or sugar), coriander powder and Garam Masala.

Tip: Adding honey or sugar to the gravy reduces the tanginess of tomatoes and balances the taste.

  1. Stir and cook the gravy for 2 minutes and then add 1/2 cup cream. Stir to mix everything.

Tip: You may add cashew nuts paste to gravy before adding cream, this will enhance the color, texture and aroma of it.

  1. Now add the cooked chicken pieces to the gravy, stir to coat them and cook for 2 minutes more. Turn off the flame.
  2. Pour the ready butter chicken into a serving dish and garnish with some butter and crushed dried fenugreek leaves. Serve hot!

Preparation Time: 60 minutes (excluding marinade refrigeration time)

Serves: 2 – 3

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