Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhni)

Butter ChickenThis post has been sitting in drafts for months. First I procrastinated cooking the dish at home, making an excuse I did not know how. Then mummy came to stay with us for a few months and offered help (read pushed). I gave in, cooked and then the images and recipe sat here some more. I hated Murgh Makhni or Butter Chicken growing up. The rich creamy sauce and the hint of sweetness was one reason I ran away from the dish as a kid, another was my brother.

This was and still is one of his favorite ways to eat a chicken curry. All the reasons why I hated this dish were the very same reasons he loved it. And sibling rivalry and my constant dislike of all things he likes, as a kid led me to staying away from Murgh Makhani. But then every other person I met, who knew I run an Indian food website would wonder if I had the recipe for it and without fail be disappointed (leaning more towards disgust) when I’d answer no. So today I give in. I finally share my recipe for Butter Chicken on Indian Simmer, constantly thinking of my brother who must be probably reading this right now with a smirk on his face and barely resisting calling me after.
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But with age comes wisdom I guess? Although, unlike childhood I now enjoy my butter chicken, I still do not cook it at home as much as I should. Probably because of all the richness that the dish asks for but every ounce of calorie and the work that goes into this dish is just worth it. And coming from a one time hater of butter chicken, you should trust me on this one!

Alright now less about hate and more about love for Butter Chicken! The dish needs to introduction. A staple in practically every Indian restaurant around the globe this dish is pretty much the brand ambassador of Indian curries. So when I decided to share this recipe here I decided to do it in the recipe’s all glory. I tried to cook it the way they do at your local Indian restaurant. But do not let the list of spices and ingredients intimidate you. It’s a fairly simple dish to put together once you have all the mise en place. So let’s begin.

Ingredients: Serves 6-8

Marination:

Approx. 1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I used about 10), Can use same quantity of breast pieces too if you like

1/2 cup yogurt

1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

3 tablespoon ginger garlic paste

2 tablespoon coriander powder

1 1/2 teaspoon kashmiri lal mirch

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 tablespoon + 2 tablespoon olive oil or ghee

Salt to taste

Masala powder: If this step gets too much just feel free to use store bought garam masala. Flavors may vary though.

3-4 Black cardamom (whole)

1/2 cinnamon stick

1 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorn

1 1/2 teaspoon cumin (whole)

1 teaspoon cloves (whole)

3-4 green cardamom (whole)

Sauce:

15 almonds

15 cashews (both of then soaked in water for about 1-2 hours)

1/2 cup whole milk (or heavy cream if you prefer which will definitely give the dish a richer taste but then it will be richer!)

3 tablespoon butter

4 medium sized tomatoes (peeled, pureéd) OR 1 can (15oz) diced tomato, pureed

1 1/2 tablespoon ginger garlic paste

2 tablespoon coriander powder

1 1/2 tablespoon kasuri methi

1 tsp dark brown sugar (white works just fine too)

Salt

1-2 drops red food coloring (optional)

Method:

Mix marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken and marinate for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Soak cashews and almonds in milk for 1 hour. Grind everything together to loose paste. Set aside.

Bring all the ingredients of the masala powder together in a spice grinder. Grind to a powder. Set aside.

Preheat grill to medium high heat or oven to 375˚F (190˚C). Remove chicken from marinade and thread onto skewers. Discard remaining marinade. Grill for 5-8 minutes until almost done. Or bake on a aluminum foil lined and greased baking sheet for 15-20 minutes, until almost done. Baste a couple of times in between with ghee or oil. Keep utensils clean to prevent contamination from raw chicken juice. Chicken can be cooked on a cast iron or grill pan too.

Heat a thick bottom pan on medium high heat. Add butter. As it melts, add ginger garlic paste. Sauté for 20-25 seconds. Stir in tomato pureé. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until it turns into a loose sauce.

Add coriander, Kashmiri lal mirch, masala powder and salt. Stir. Simmer on medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add kasuri methi, cashew and almond paste and dark brown sugar. Stir well. Add grilled chicken. Mix well to coat with sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes on medium low heat. You can add up to 1 cup of water here depending how runny you want your curry to be. Continue simmering until everything comes together, another 3-5 minutes.

Turn off heat. Let rest for 3-5 minutes.
Serve with hot naan, rice and a side of salad.

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11 Comments

    • Really depends on the quality of garam masala in my my opinion. There are several brands that put way too much coriander in it (which in my opinion has no place in garam masala) but if you are using one with a strong flavors of warm spices and less to none coriander, just use the same quantity mentioned here.

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  1. […] The dish needs no introduction. A staple in practically every Indian restaurant around the globe, this dish is pretty much the brand ambassador of Indian curries. Do not let the list of spices and ingredients intimidate you. It’s a fairly simple dish to put together once you have all the mise en place. Recipe here. […]

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  2. Hello Prerna,

    Growing up in a strict household we had very less food from outside. I found this dish only when I started doing engineering far away from home and splurging on the pocket money. I think I still did not fall in love with the recipe probably because wha I ate was all wrong. Then I got married and was blessed to have a Sasuma who cooked delicious food from all regions. Her version was poles apart from what I had so far and extremely delicious. It has now become a heirloom recipe and I do not think I will share that on my blog ever. The only place which came close to her version was Zaffran restaurant. Maybe if we meet then I could cook it for you and see your reaction. I read your entire version I think you have really held it to task to cook it right and rich. And I appreciate that, somehow I felt a traditional recipe should be cooked the way it is its healthy version is a new recipe but not the same recipe. Great work! I loved the pictures too very crisp….I think I should increase the content area on my blog.

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