Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken – Murgh Makhani

To the Australians and Canadians alike, butter chicken is what chicken tikka masala is to the Brits. I would go as far to say that the reason being and whatever stories you may hear about chicken tikka masala and it’s origins, this dish is a Punjabi classic from Amritsar and from my experience of living and eating Indian food in Canada it is the Sikhs there owning the restaurants that would explain the popularity of the butter chicken.

Since throwing out the Patak jars of curry paste and using what is now my bible of Indian cooking. I love making this dish and I have to admit, use Marigolds when mixing the chicken and the marinade! There I’ve said it!

This is definitely the favoured Indian recipe by my family and this dish is perfect for using up any left over Tandori chicken!

Serves 4-6


4 large chicken breasts, skinned and cut into 2 -3 pieces at an angle or into a dice if you wish.

For the first marinade

Juice of 2 limes
  1 tsp Mirchi/ Kashmiri chilli powder
  1 tsp salt

For the second marinade

  50g natural yoghurt
  50g double cream
  4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  25g/5cm ginger, roughly chopped
  1 tsp Garam masala
  1 tsp tumeric
  3/4 tsp ground cumin
  1/2 tsp Beetroot powder (optional as only for the colour)

For the sauce

  Approx 50g ghee
  25g/5 cloves garlic, finely crushed
  25g/5cm ginger, finely grated
  400gm tomato passata
  1/2 tsp Mirchi/ Kashmiri chilli powder
  1/2 tsp ground coriander
  1/2 tsp ground cumin
  1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  1/2 tsp Garam masala
  1 tsp desiccated coconut
  1 1/2 tsp salt
  200ml water
  25 g cashew nuts
  2 tbsp boiling water
  1 tbsp dried fenugreek (methi)leaves (if you can get them)
  1/2 tsp caster sugar
  45ml double cream

To finish

Sprinkle with a handful of roughly chopped fresh coriander leaves and finely shredded ginger (optional).

Preparation method:

Firstly mix the ingredients for the first marinade in a large bowl add the chicken then cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge for about an hour.

For the second marinade put the ingredients for the second marinade into a small food processor or blender and blend until smooth, then add this to the marinating chicken in the bowl and give it a good mix to coat all the chicken. Then cover and return to the fridge for another 4 hours.

This is basically your Tandoori seasoning, because after the 4 hours pre-heat your oven to 240°c and either skewer your chicken pieces, leaving a gap in between the chicken or place on a wire rack over a roasting tin and roast for about 15-20 minutes. You don’t want to over cook the chicken as it will dry up as it has to cook further in the sauce.

Whilst the chicken is in the oven prepare the sauce by heating the ghee in a heavy pan or karahi if you have one over a medium heat. Add the minced garlic and ginger and fry for a minute then stir in the tomato passata and bring to a simmer. After a couple or 5 minutes add all the spices, coconut, salt, 100 ml of the water and simmer for 10 minutes.

In the small food processor or blender, ha ha should have warned you to get that puppy washed out, blend the cashew and some of the boiling water into a paste. Stir this into the sauce and add the chicken pieces and another 100ml water.

Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and stir in the fenugreek leaves, sugar and cream. Cook for a couple more minutes and before serving sprinkle with the freshly chopped coriander leaves and ginger.



As well as washing out the blender, boil the kettle and also double check the tsp, tbsp measurements as you don’t want to over chili this dish as I did the first time. I think I went in with tbsp of the chili powder…oops!