Butter Chicken is the one of the most popular Chicken Curry and if a restaurant serves North Indian dishes, chances are it will always have butter chicken in the menu. A dish loved by many, young and old. It is creamy, aromatic with a floral note, mildly sweet and pairs so good with Naan or jeera rice.
Butter Chicken, which we also refer to as Murgh Makhani has a very interesting history of its origin and if you google about it, you will find lots of articles.
The key of the dish is the creamy tomato based sauce which we used with not only vegetarian protein like paneer to make Paneer Butter Masala or tofu but also used in pasta or pizza.
Why you will love this Butter Chicken Recipe ?
The base sauce is the Makhani sauce, and it is flavor packed with spices and dried herb called kasuri methi. You can make that sauce in bulk and freeze it too.
Once you have that sauce ready, making butter chicken is very easy, and you can prepare even on a busy day.
My secret ingredient for the perfect aroma and taste of Butter Chicken is the base Makhani sauce, where I use cinnamon powder. I prepare the sauce by simmering in spices for 20 minutes, which adds the depth of flavor.
Also, I marinate the chicken in spices and yogurt for few hours so the chicken pieces gets tender and juicy.
Ingredients for Butter Chicken
Chicken Pieces - It is often prepared with boneless chicken. I prefer chicken thigh as it has fats which keeps the pieces juicy and tender.
Onion, Garlic, Ginger - Like any chicken curry, mugh makhani too calls for the regular onion, garlic and ginger. I like to keep butter chicken non-spicy, as my son loves this dish. A few fresh green chili will not only add heat but also add a refreshing flavor.
Makhani Sauce - The gravy is the key to the taste of this dish. Just adding butter and cream with some tomato will not get that flavor profile. Take some time in making this Makhani sauce.
Spices - Chicken is marinated in ground spices like cumin, coriander, fennel, salt and sugar along with dried fenugreek leaves. Apart from the ground spices you will also need cinnamon stick, clove and green cardamoms.
Heavy Cream and Butter - The dish is prepared in butter and then finished with a small doze of heavy cream which changes the gorgeous red makhani sauce to the beautiful soothing saffron shade.
The correct measurement of the ingredients are given in the recipe card below.
You can also make a vegetarian version of the same dish by using tofu or paneer or cauliflower. You can also try mixed vegetables along with the makhani sauce.
Steps to prepare Butter Chicken
- Start by making the makhani sauce
2. In a mixing bowl add mustard oil, yogurt, all the ground spices, ginger garlic paste, dried fenugreek leaves and salt. Whisk to mix everything.
3. Add the chicken pieces. I used boneless thighs that I cut into bite size strips. You can use chicken breast too. Once marinated, cover the bowl and leave it aside for 4 hours in the refrigerator.
4. In a heavy bottom skillet, add the butter with little oil and scatter the whole spices along with dried fenugreek leaves. Stir it around for a few seconds to release the aroma.
5. Add the finely chopped onion and season with salt. Cook until it's softened a little.
6. Scatter the marinated chicken all around.
7. Cook the chicken for a few minutes to sear the pieces.
8. Pour the makhani sauce and mix it around. Cook the chicken pieces in the sauce for a few minutes. Since it's boneless chicken, it will cook pretty fast.
9. Pour heavy cream and mix it all around. The heavy cream adds a mild sweetness and also changes the color of the curry to a gorgeous saffron shade.
Butter chicken tastes best when enjoyed warm with Naan or rice.
Couple of points to remember
When it comes to chicken boneless, I prefer Chicken Thigh as it has fats ad keeps the pieces juicy when compared to chicken breast.
Avoid over cooking chicken. Often when making curries, people overcook chicken and it becomes hard. Looses it tender texture. Boneless chicken doesn't need a lot of time to cook and as it sits in that hot curry, it keeps cooking too.
The Makhani sauce is the key of the dish here, so keep extra time in hand to make that before you make the curry.
I always marinate the chicken the previous night and also make the sauce in the previous night or over the weekend in a big batch.
Try these popular Indian restaurant
Butter Chicken sauce is a tomato based gravy. It is made of earthy spices, onion, garlic, ginger, tomato purée, dried fenugreek leaves, whole spices like cinnamon stick, cardamom, star anise and clove. It is finished with heavy cream and cooked in butter.
In Chicken tikka masala, you add grilled chicken pieces that are traditionally charred in a charcoal tandoor. In butter chicken, you cook the chicken pieces with onion in a pan and then add makhani sauce to make the gravy.
Butter Chicken has a good balance of sweet and spice, which makes it a favorite among kids. It's creamy and definitely less spicy than most Chicken curry.
To marinate the chicken pieces
- 1 lb Boneless chicken thigh
- 2 tablespoon Mustard oil
- 2 tablespoon Kashmir chili powder
- 1 tablespoon Turmeric powder
- 1 and ½ tablespoon Cumin powder
- 1 and ½ tablespoon Coriander powder
- 1 and ½ tablespoon Fennel powder
- 2 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste
- ½ cup Thick Plain Yogurt
- 2 tablespoon Dried fenugreek leaves
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 1 tablespoon Oil
- few cloves
- 4 Green Cardamoms
- 1 Tiny piece of cinnamon stick
- ½ teaspoon Dried fenugreek leaves
- 1 red Onion (Thinly sliced)
- 2 Cups Makhani sauce (recipe link given below)
- ¼ cup Heavy cream
Marinating the Chicken pieces
- In a mixing bowl, add all the ingredients for chicken marination and whisk to a smooth consistency.
- Slice the chicken thigh to thin strips or bite size pieces. Place in the mixing bowl and mix it around.
- Cover and leave aside in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight
Preparing Butter Chicken
- In a heavy bottom pan, add the butter with little oil and add the whole spices which are cinnamon stick, clove and green cardamoms. Stir it around for a few seconds to release the aroma.
- Add the onion, season with salt and cook for 3 minutes.
- Scatter the chicken pieces and cook for 5 minutes by stirring it around.
- Pour the makhani sauce and stir it around. Let it cook for 15 minutes. Keep in mind that depending on the size of the chicken pieces and the quantity, the cooking time will change.
- Once the chicken is cooked through, pour heavy cream and mix it around one last time. Taste for salt and add more if needed.
- Enjoy Butter chicken warm.