Mouth-watering Butter Chicken aka Murg Makhani made from scratch with tandoori chicken simmered in a buttery spiced tomato sauce. Served best with naan, parathas, basmati rice etc.
Curry lover's go to choice to dunk their naan bread (I did it!!!!!) - Butter Chicken. I have perfected the butter chicken recipe but making a perfect Naan still eludes me.
This Murg Makhani recipe is an absolute hit with family and friends. Please be aware that there is no calorie counting here! You will need a good blob of butter (duh!), cream and cashews.
Contrary to popular belief that making butter chicken involves hours in the kitchen, this recipe comes together in less than an hour. If you already have some leftover tandoori chicken or chicken tikka skewers, then it is even quicker.
Murgh Makhani aka Butter Chicken was invented by Kundan Lal of Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi post the infamous partition. Butter Chicken aka Murg Makhani or Chicken Makhani is made with leftover tandoori chicken nestled in a rich seasoned buttery tomato gravy thickened with cashews and finished off with cream. Served best with naan, parathas, rice etc. A total indulgence! Tear a piece of hot naan and scoop it in the silky butter chicken -the perfect marriage!
The sauce for butter chicken is made by sauteing warm whole spices like cardamom, cloves and cinnamon along with cashews, onion and ripe tomatoes in lots of butter and or ghee. You have to use more tomatoes than onions. Cooked until oil separates and pureed in a blender. This is the butter chicken sauce that you can simmer with tandoori chicken pieces.
No, they are not the same. Butter chicken uses tandoori chicken pieces which are always made with bone-in poultry whereas Chicken Tikka Masala is made with boneless chicken pieces. But, with time, variations have developed to customize it, so you also have boneless butter chicken, which resembles Chicken Tikka Masala. Both dishes are popularly served worldwide but have subtle variations in flavour and preparation methods depending on the region where you eat them. This would be the sole reason for the utter confusion or any arguments about these two dishes.
I want you to know that this dish does not define Indian food! We are more than butter chicken and chicken tikka.
- Chicken: I always use whole chicken legs or chicken thighs or boneless thighs. Contrary to a true Butter Chicken recipe, I prefer to use boneless chicken thighs for ease and flavour.
- Butter: unsalted.
- Lime or lemon juice: Freshly squeezed. In a pinch, you can replace it with white vinegar.
- Ginger garlic paste: Best to use homemade, fresh ginger and garlic and just pound them in mortar and pestle. You will need this in both marination and sauce.
- Oil: A litter mustard oil or any cooking oil.
- Red chilli powder: for the spicy factor
- Kashmiri red chilli powder: for the rich colour.
- Turmeric powder
- Kasoori methi: Aka dried fenugreek leaves
- Garam masala: You can make a batch using my garam masala recipe.
- Thick yoghurt: Try to strain the yoghurt or use hung yoghurt or Labneh or greek yoghurt.
- Whole spices: Green cardamom, Black cardamom (optional), Cinnamon, Cloves and Fenugreek seeds
- Cashews: Adds body to the sauce and helps reduce the butter quantity. You may replace it with blanched almonds.
- Green chillies: a few for the kick
- Onion: Red for the Indian taste
- Tomatoes: Fresh and ripe ones.
- Sugar: a little to cut down the tomato acidity.
- Cream: You may use heavy or whipping or thick cream. Adjust as per your need.
- Coriander leaves: for garnish
How to make it?
To make butter chicken from scratch, you must first make a batch of grilled or roasted chicken marinated in Tandoori masala. You can grill the marinated chicken in the oven or stove-top. Make the sauce by sauteing warm spices and fresh tomatoes in butter. Finally, toss the chicken in the tomato sauce and simmer.
- Marinate the chicken and roast in the oven or pan with butter until cooked through.
- Prepare the tomato gravy in butter. Cool and blend to smooth paste.
- Simmer both the chicken and sauce with some water until thickened.
- Finish off with cream and garnish
What makes the gravy stand out is not just the butter and cream but the dried fenugreek leaves aka Kasoori methi.
If using bone-in pieces, then make deep cuts before marinating. Marinate the chicken with lime juice, ginger garlic paste, oil, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, kasoori methi, garam masala, thick yoghurt and salt. Let it rest for 4 to 5 hours or overnight.
Roast the marinated chicken on high flame turning the pieces a few times to roast all sides evenly until cooked through. You may do this in the oven.
Heat butter and fry the green and black cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon, and fry until fragrant. Add the fenugreek seeds, cashews, grated ginger garlic pasts, green chillies and saute for a few minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder and a little salt. Let the tomatoes get cooked down until the oil separates. Switch off and let it cool.
Add the tomato mixture into a blender and blend it until smooth.
Return the blended tomato sauce to the pan along with the roasted chicken and a cup of water. Bring this sauce to a boil.
Reduce the flame to low and stir in the sugar, kasoori methi, and garam masala. Cover and cook on low for 10 to 15 minutes.
Garnish with a good drizzle of cream, and chopped coriander leaves and serve with any kind of flatbread like Methi Paratha, Naan, kulcha, or a bowl of rice.
Murg Makhani aka Butter Chicken
For the Chicken tandoori (marinate and roast)
- 700 grams Chicken whole legs or use 500 grams of boneless chicken thighs
- 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice
- 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon oil mustard oil or any cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi dried fenugreek leaves
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 4 tablespoons yoghurt
- salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon butter to roast or pan fry
For the Tomato gravy (cook and blend)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 green cardamom
- 1 black cardamom optional
- 1- inch cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 10 cashews whole
- 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
- 2 to 4 green chillies slit
- 1 large onion roughly chopped
- 3 medium-sized tomatoes roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
- salt to taste
Final additions for makhani
- 1 cup water
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons kasuri methi dried fenugreek leaves
- ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 2 to 3 tablespoons cream heavy or thick
- Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
Marinate for tandoori Chicken
- Marinate the chicken with lime juice, ginger garlic paste, oil, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, kasoori methi, garam masala, thick yoghurt and salt.
- Cover and keep it refrigerated for 4 to 5 hours or overnight. If using boneless chicken breast, 30 mins would suffice. If using bone-in pieces, then make deep cuts before marinating. You may skip this and use leftover chicken tikkas or tandoori chicken.
Roast the marinated chicken
- Heat a thick-bottomed saucepan with some butter.
- Roast the marinated chicken on high flame turning the pieces a few times to roast all sides evenly until cooked through. You may do this in the oven.
Prepare the Tomato Gravy
- Heat butter in a deep saucepan.
- Add the green and black cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon, and fry until fragrant.
- Add the fenugreek seeds and saute for a few seconds.
- Add the whole cashews and saute until golden.
- Add grated ginger garlic paste along with slit green chillies. Saute this mixture until the raw smell of ginger and garlic is gone.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder, and a little salt. Cook partially covered until the tomatoes are cooked down and the oil separated. Switch off and let it cool.
- Add the tomato mixture into a blender and blend it until smooth.
Final steps for Butter Chicken
- Return the blended tomato gravy sauce to the pan along with the roasted chicken and a cup of water. Bring this sauce to a boil.
- Reduce the flame to low and stir in the sugar, kasoori methi, and garam masala.
- Cover and cook on low for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Garnish with a good drizzle of cream, and chopped coriander leaves and serve with any kind of flatbread like Methi Paratha, Naan, kulcha, or a bowl of rice.