Here is my version of the most popular Indian curry - Mouth-watering Murgh Makhani, made by simmering leftover tandoori chicken in a rich makhani sauce. You will love it with any kinda bread but is best with naan or plain basmati rice!
Curry lover's go to choice to dunk their naan bread (I did it!!!!!) - Murgh Makhani famously known as Butter Chicken. I have perfected the this Punjabi butter chicken recipe but making a perfect Naan still eludes me. Family and friends absolutely love this chicken makhani gravy. Absolutely NO calorie counting here! You will need a good blob of butter (duh!), cream and cashews!
This homemade makhani sauce 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.
Here, I have listed the ingredients required for both Tandoori chicken marination and for the makhani sauce. Please scroll down to refer to the recipe card if you just want to make the Makhani sauce alone.
- 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.
- Full-fat Butter!
- Lime or lemon juice: Freshly squeezed. In a pinch, you can replace it with white vinegar.
- Ginger garlic paste: You will need this in both marination and the makhani 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 for a hint of flavour
- 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
- Cashew nuts: Adds body to the sauce and helps reduce the butter quantity. You may replace it with blanched almonds.
- Green chillies
- Tomatoes: Use fresh ripe tomatoes. Avoid using tomato paste!
- Cream: You may use heavy or whipping or thick or fresh cream. Adjust as per your need.
Scroll down to Recipe card for details on quantities and instructions.
To make butter chicken from scratch, you must first make a batch of grilled or roasted chicken marinated in Tandoori masala. Then, prepare the makhani sauce recipe by sauteing warm spices and fresh tomatoes in butter. Finally, toss the chicken tandoori in the prepared makhani sauce and simmer.
Here I have used boneless chicken thighs to make a batch of tandoori chicken.
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.
You may use a immersion blender and blend to a smooth gravy. If using blender or food processor, let the mixture cool down a bit before you blend it to 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.
Any leftover homemade chicken makhani sauce should be refrigerated in an airtight container. This typically stays fresh for about 3-4 days in the fridge.
If you want to store the sauce for a longer period, consider freezing it. Place the sauce in a freezer-safe container, leaving some room for expansion, as liquids tend to expand when frozen. This can extend the storage life to 2-3 months.
When ready to use, thaw the frozen sauce in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat it gently on the stovetop, stirring occasionally to maintain its texture and flavor.
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.https://butfirstchai.com/mofatah-al-dajaj-ethnic-saudi-rice-and/
Looking for other chicken recipes?
Murgh Makhani Sauce (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 cooking 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 Makhani sauce (cook and blend)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 green cardamom
- 1 black cardamom optional
- 1 inch cinnamon stick
- 3 cloves
- ½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- 10 whole 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.700 grams Chicken whole legs, 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice, 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste, 1 teaspoon cooking oil, 1 teaspoon red chilli powder, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon kasuri methi, ½ teaspoon garam masala, 4 tablespoons yoghurt, salt to taste
- 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.1 tablespoon butter
Prepare the Tomato Gravy
- Heat butter in a deep saucepan. Add the green and black cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon, and fry until fragrant.2 green cardamom, 1 black cardamom, 1 inch cinnamon stick, 3 cloves, 2 tablespoons butter
- Add the fenugreek seeds and saute for a few seconds.½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- Add the whole cashews and saute until golden.10 whole cashews
- Add onion, grated ginger garlic paste along with slit green chillies. Saute this mixture until the raw smell of ginger and garlic is gone.2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste, 1 large onion, 2 to 4 green chillies
- 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.3 medium-sized tomatoes, 1 tablespoon Kashmiri red chilli powder, salt to taste
- 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.1 cup water
- 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.2 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons kasuri methi, ½ teaspoon garam masala
- 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.2 to 3 tablespoons cream, Fresh coriander leaves
Read the history of Butter Chicken from the OG family!