Butter chicken (Murgh Makhani) | Easy butter chicken recipe

Butter chicken or Murgh makhani, is probably one such Indian dish that requires no introduction. It is as popular and loved in India as it is globally. If you haven’t had the opportunity to taste this dish yet, you are definitely missing out on something. Chicken pieces marinated with yogurt and spices are grilled in a tandoor and then dunked in an ambrosial, butter-y, creamy, luxurious tomato based curry- yumm!

I love to know the history behind the origin of these dishes. Butter chicken or Murgh makhani has a rather interesting history. Have you heard about it? Kundan Lal Gujral, the founder of Moti Mahal restaurant in New Delhi, India invented Butter chicken. The man who invented tandoori chicken (and I think the world can’t thank him enough for the genius gastronomical creation) also happens to be the creator of this wonderful dish. He used the leftover tandoori chicken pieces in a rich tomato, butter and cream based sauce {Wiki}.


You will come across many variations of this dish, as each restaurant/hotel/chef have their own unique take on this classic! Traditionally chicken on bones were used, but somehow the use of boneless chicken has become more popular amongst the masses. The sauce base for butter chicken isn’t overpowered by too many spices, rather loads of butter, cream and that little bit of dried fenugreek leaves give this dish it’s characteristic taste. Do not skip out on the fenugreek leaves, it is an important element in this dish, it’s distinct bitter, yet earthy flavor cannot be missed! It is easily available in most Indian grocery stores. You can either use sugar or honey to balance out the tartness of the tomatoes.

As complex and intimidating  as this dish looks, it is really a cinch to pull it off. Check out the step wise pictorial below, to make a quick yet delicious butter chicken. Forget take out and make your own, your family and friends would definitely be helping themselves with seconds.

This is definitely not your everyday dish, considering the amount of calories that go into a single serving! This fits the bill for cheat days, or apt for those times when you want to have a nice, soul satisfying curry.

I have used ready made tomato purée (canned tomato sauce) for this recipe, which also quickens the process of preparing this dish. If you would like to use fresh tomatoes, you can follow the recipe for paneer makhani, use the same curry base and add grilled chicken instead of paneer. I love to use fresh, plum tomatoes for this recipe when they are in season, or else the canned stuff works great too for once in a while.

You can enjoy butter chicken with 

-Naan/Kulcha/garlic kulcha or any other flatbread

-steamed rice/pilaf or jeera rice

Step by step instructions

For the tandoori chicken-

1.Add chicken pieces in a large bowl. Pat dry with a napkin, so that the marinade sticks to it. Add all the ingredients listed under for the chicken marinade.

2.Mix well and let it marinate for a minimum of 2 to 3 hours or overnight.

3.Thread chicken pieces onto skewers ( if using bamboo skewers, immerse them in water for 30 minutes prior to using). Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Grill for about 20 minutes, turning sides once or until the chicken is cooked through. Broil for an additional 3-4 minutes to get that charred look. You can also fry it on the stove top instead of cooking in the oven.

For the curry-

1.Whilst the chicken is grilling, prepare the curry. Heat 3 tablespoons butter plus oil  in a heavy bottomed pan/ kadai, add whole spices.

2.When the spices become fragrant add ginger garlic green chilli paste. Sauté until the rawness is gone.

3.Add tomato purée, mix well with the seasoned butter, cover and let it cook on medium heat until it leaves fat. Stir in between to prevent any sticking at the bottom of the pan. This will take about 3-5 minutes.

4.Now add salt to season, sugar to balance out the tartness of the tomatoes, kasuri methi, red chilli powder, roasted cumin powder and garam masala. Sauté it on medium heat for another minute.

5.Add cashew nut paste, sauté it on medium heat another 1-2 minutes until it leaves fat at the sides of the wok.

6.Add 3/4 to 1 cup water (adjust as per desired consistency, add only 1/4 cup water for very thick curry), mix well and bring to a boil. Check for seasonings and adjust now.

7.Add grilled chicken pieces,  mix well and let it simmer covered for another 10 minutes.

8.Finally add the cream and 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter, mix well and simmer for another 1-2 minutes. Finish it off with a little sprinkle of kasuri methi. Switch off the heat and serve with pilaf or any flat bread!

Notes-

1.For a low calorie version, use about 1 tablespoon butter, skip cashew nut paste, and replace heavy cream/malai with evaporated skimmed milk or half & half.

2.If you have tandoori masala, use that instead instead of the individual spices, you can skip the garam masala & red chilli powder in the marinade.

3.Make ahead tip– Marinate the chicken and refrigerate until you ready to assemble the dish. Prepare the curry base up to step 5. Once it cools down, you can can refrigerate the curry base. When you are ready to assemble the dish, bring the chicken to room temperature and grill, also transfer the curry base to a heavy bottomed pot/kadai, add water, bring to a boil, then follow the last 3 steps.

Ingredients: Measuring cup used, 1 cup = 250 ml, 1 teaspoon = 5 ml

Butter chicken (Murgh Makhani) | Easy butter chicken recipe

Prep Time: 3 hours, 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Butter chicken (Murgh Makhani) | Easy butter chicken recipe

Chicken pieces marinated with yogurt and spices are grilled in a tandoor and then dunked in an ambrosial, butter-y, creamy, luxurious tomato based curry- yumm! Learn how to make quick and delicious, Butter chicken (Murgh makhani) with this detailed step wise pictorial recipe.

Ingredients

  • 650 grams chicken breasts/thighs, cut into bite sized chunks
  • For the marinade-
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 2-3 finely chopped green chillies
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • Few blades of mace (javitri)
  • 1/4 cup hung curd/ Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro (dhania) leaves
  • For the curry-
  • 1 cup tomato purée
  • 1 inch ginger + 4 big garlic cloves + 2-3 green chillies, (make a fine paste)
  • Whole spices (1 bay leaf, 1 inch cinnamon, 3 green cardamom, 2 cloves, few blades of mace,5 -6 peppercorns)
  • 7-10 cashew nuts/almonds, soaked in hot water for 10-15 minutes, ground to a smooth paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chilli powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar, adjust according to the sourness of the tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves), dry roasted and crushed between palms
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of heavy cream/fresh malai
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

    For the tandoori chicken-
  1. Add chicken pieces in a large bowl. Pat dry with a napkin, so that the marinade sticks to it. Add all the ingredients listed under for the chicken marinade.
  2. Mix well and let it marinate for a about 2-3 hours or overnight.
  3. Thread chicken pieces onto skewers ( if using bamboo skewers, immerse them in water for 30 minutes prior to using). Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Grill for about 20 minutes, turning sides once or until the chicken is cooked through. Broil for an additional 3-4 minutes to get that charred look. You can also fry it on the stove top instead of cooking in the oven.
  4. For the curry-
  5. Whilst the chicken is grilling, prepare the curry. Heat 3 tablespoons butter plus oil in a heavy bottomed pan/ kadai, add whole spices.
  6. When the spices become fragrant add ginger garlic green chilli paste. Sauté until the rawness is gone.
  7. Add tomato purée, mix well with the seasoned butter, cover and let it cook on medium heat until it leaves fat. Stir in between to prevent any sticking at the bottom of the pan. This will take about 3-5 minutes.
  8. Now add salt to season, sugar to balance out the tartness of the tomatoes, kasuri methi, red chilli powder, roasted cumin powder and garam masala. Sauté it on medium heat for another minute.
  9. Add cashew nut paste, sauté it on medium heat another 1-2 minutes until it leaves fat at the sides of the wok.
  10. Add 3/4 to 1 cup water (adjust as per desired consistency, add only 1/4 cup water for very thick curry), mix well and bring to a boil. Check for seasonings and adjust now.
  11. Add grilled chicken pieces, mix well and let it simmer covered for another 10 minutes.
  12. Finally add the cream and 1 to 2 tablesooons of butter, mix well and simmer for another 1-2 minutes. Finish it off with a little sprinkle of kasuri methi. Switch off the heat and serve with pilaf or any flat bread!

Notes

1.For a low calorie version, use about 2 tablespoons butter, skip cashew nut paste, and replace heavy cream/malai with evaporated skimmed milk or half & half.

2.If you have tandoori masala, use that instead instead of the individual spices, you can skip the garam masala & red chilli powder in the marinade.

3.Make ahead tip- Marinate the chicken and refrigerate until you ready to assemble the dish. Prepare the curry base from step 4 to 8. Once it cools down, you can can refrigerate the curry base. When you are ready to assemble the dish, bring the chicken to room temperature and grill, also transfer the curry base to a heavy bottomed pot/kadai, add water, bring to a boil, then follow the last 3 steps.

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Freda

12 comments

  1. Smiling Notes says:

    I’m a huge fan of Butter Chicken (but then again, who isn’t? lol) My husband makes wonderful butter chicken so I have never tried making it on my own 😀 Love your recipe and delicious pics.

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