Butter Chicken is probably one of the best know Indian dishes outside of Tikka Masala or Tandoori and this Indian Butter Chicken recipe is THE EASIEST to make at home.
This aromatic restaurant quality curry delivers BIG flavor every time, and with a twist, is made without butter! You’ll be amazed!
What? Butter Chicken made without butter? YES, and besides the amazing aroma and authentic spices, I’ll show you just how easy this is to make at home. Again and again. Butter Chicken, Murgh Makhani as it is properly named, is a cinch to make and you can alter the heat for all tastes.
What’s in Butter Chicken?
This Butter Chicken recipe is flexible and uses boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh meat. It marinates in yogurt and spices and is cooked and simmered in a tomato and cream sauce.
What’s the secret to this Butter Chicken?
This aromatic restaurant quality curry uses spices that can be found in most markets, and by using a thick Greek yogurt, allows the home cook to not use the copious amounts of butter used to get the same amazing curry sauce result one would from a restaurant or takeaway!
For those of you who visit here know, I am a lover of big and bold flavors and this delivers on both counts. The marinade is fantastic, and this comes together in no time at all, which makes it a go to for mid-week rotation dinners.
One of the main ingredients used in this is Garam Masala, a wonderfully heady and warm spice blend that I shared a homemade version of the other day here on the site. I had recently used up my batch and needed to make another since I wanted this dish to share with you guys. Feel free to purchase from the spice aisle of your local market, but I made a video to show you how easy it is to make yourself, too.
One of my favorite go to Indian recipe books is “The Food of India – Authentic Recipes from the Spicy Subcontinent” and it is a collection of recipes from several chefs of the Oberoi Group, a global hotel company based in Delhi. This book contains some of the most authentic Indian recipes I have ever tried.
The reason I also make note of this is because of the two Indian recipes we crave most here is Butter Chicken and Mulligatawny, which is an English soup based on an Indian recipe. While we get our fix of the soup and butter chicken at a local restaurant, I have yet to duplicate either recipe at home to my liking. Until now, at least for the Butter Chicken.
This is a house favorite that I think I’ve made about a million times now (OK, I kid, but A LOT) after trying the recipe from Nagi over at RecipeTin Eats about four years ago now, although I have made a few adjustments for my tastes. This Butter Chicken is just that, a superb blending of spices and the result is mouthwatering. Trust me.
In the cook book I mentioned above, The Food of India, it uses copious amount of butter (three quarters of a pound!) for their butter chicken recipe, while in this recipe butter is omitted entirely and amazes. 🙂
The spice and yogurt marinade is spot on for this Butter Chicken. While I followed her directions to the letter like you should for any new recipe, I marinate it for an hour and honestly can’t tell the flavor difference of marinating overnight. I also bumped the heat up and a tweaked a few spices to my liking and am beyond ecstatic to share it with you, too.
I mean, this is butter chicken without the butter. Crazy, yes, perfection, indeed.
I love to serve this with steamed rice, be it white, brown, jasmine or the fragrant basmati, garlic naan bread and my Chickpea Masala. If you want you could even make your own Chana Masala spice blend. Enjoy!
This recipe first appeared on Kevin Is Cooking March 2017 and has been updated with new photos.
Watch how to make this below!
Butter Chicken - Punjabi Murgh Makhani
- 1 1/2 lbs chicken breast meat , tenders or thigh fillets, cut into bite size pieces
- 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
- 2 tsp garam masala (See Note 1)
- 1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 8 oz tomato sauce (See Note 2)
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup heavy cream (full fat or light)
- Cilantro for garnish
- Combine Marinade ingredients with the chicken in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for an hour, overnight, or up to 24 hours.
- Heat the oil over high heat in a large fry pan or wok. Add the marinated chicken and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the chicken is white all over - it doesn't really brown due to the marinade.
- Add the tomato sauce, sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Turn heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Sauce will thicken and reduce.
- Season with salt if needed. Stir through the cream and simmer another 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Garnish with cilantro leaves and a pinch of some more Garam Masala. Serve over rice and with garlic naan bread. (See Note 3)
- Use more or less Garam Masala depending on your taste for heat. This is not a very hot dish, the spice blend is more flavor than heat. I think sometimes people confuse spicy with heat and there is a difference! 🙂
- I use Tomato Sauce in this recipe and have also used Tomato Passata, both work well in this. Tomato Passata is uncooked tomato puree that has been strained of seeds and skins. It is not cooked, where Tomato Sauce is cooked and often has other ingredients such as carrots, onions, sugar and garlic. If you want little bits of tomato in the sauce passata works well. Smoother go tomato sauce.
Passata is readily available in most supermarkets, usually alongside pasta sauces. It costs just a little more, sometimes the same, as canned tomatoes. If you can't find it, puree canned tomatoes. (Australia, from what I understand don't use what you call Tomato Sauce!).
- You can pick up frozen baked naan at most supermarkets or Trader Joe's if available near you.