Butter Chicken

It may be prosaic, but my go-to dish when ordering Indian food has always been butter chicken. So I’m always on the hunt for a recipe that best approximates what I can get from a restaurant (easier said than done). I’ve tried other versions, some of which are even on Gastrofare, but it’s never been quite right. Thus, the experimentation continues!


from Cafe Delites

Chicken Marinade
1½ lbs boneless and skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
½ cup plain yogurt
1½ tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced (or finely grated) ginger
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp salt

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp ghee (or 1 tbsp butter + 1 tbsp oil)
1½ tsp minced garlic
1 tbsp minced (or finely grated) ginger
1½ tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp garama masala
1 tsp ground coriander
14 oz (400 g) crushed tomatoes
1 tsp red chili powder
1¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
1 cup of heavy cream
1 tbsp sugar
½ tsp kasoori methi (or dried fenugreek leaves)

In a bowl, combine chicken with all of the ingredients of the marinade; let marinate for 30 minutes to an hour (or overnight if time allows).

Heat oil in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. When sizzling, add chicken pieces in batches of two or three, making sure not to crowd the pan. Fry until browned, about 3 minutes on each side. Set aside and keep warm.

Heat butter or ghee in the same pan. Fry onions until they start to sweat (about 6 minutes) while scraping up browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pan. Add garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute until fragrant, then add ground coriander, cumin, and garam masala. Add crushed tomatoes, chili powder and salt. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens and becomes a deep brown red colour.

Remove from heat, scoop mixture into a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth. Pour the puréed sauce back into the pan. Stir the cream, sugar and crushed kasoori methi through the sauce. Add the chicken with juices back into the pan and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and bubbling.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with rice or homemade naan bread.


A few notes on preparation: I couldn’t find dried fenugreek leaves/kasoori methi and so omitted it.

My initial thought was that the tomato-y flavour was stronger than expected, but I read that a longer cooking time can reduce that flavour. I’ve seen in other butter chicken recipes you can simmer the sauce for even 40 minutes, so I’ll try for longer next time. And actually, as I had leftovers of this throughout the week, I found that tomato-y flavour wasn’t as strong the next day. Other than that, it was a solid dish–well-seasoned with a nice sauce consistency. Worthy of continued tries and tweaks.

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