Butter chicken recipe | Murgh Makhani (authentic indian curry recipe)

Butter chicken recipe | Murgh Makhani (authentic indian curry recipe)

Butter chicken recipe | murgh makhani – Tender juicy tandoori chicken pieces dipped in buttery and creamy flavourful tomato sauce. This recipe gives you the authentic indian Finger Lickin Butter Chicken / Murgh Makhani.

butter chicken
butter chicken

Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani

Butter chicken is a mix of creamy textured, butter flavoured, tandoori chicken pieces,dipped in rich and creamy tomato gravy . It has beautiful rich flavours, that are neither too spicy, nor too bland, but perfect for every taste bud.

Hence Indian butter chicken is loved by all.

Butter chicken or Murgh makhani, are at the top of the list of favourite foods of any chicken loving person. Ask any non vegetarian Punjabi, and his favourite food would be butter chicken.And why only a Punjabi… I guess anyone and everyone loves ‘the butter chicken’.

I used to think that only punjabis love their butter chicken, but as I grew up and moved out of Punjab, met more and more people from different backgrounds and different parts of India, I realised that butter chicken was nations one of the favourite dishes, and now I realise that it’s not only nations favourite, but anyone who is a non vegetarian and likes  Indian food, has butter chicken or chicken makhani as one of his /her favourites’.

Even though it cannot be termed as a healthy , fresh or clean food, but the taste and the flavour is something that makes you fall in love with it.

Of Course this is not something you need to have everyday,  you can have it once a while.

Authentic Tasting Butter Chicken recipe

When you are looking for the best creamy butter chicken recipe, that is authentic, you cannot compromise on any of the ingredients that adds to its taste and richness.

The delicious traditional butter chicken recipe, cannot be tagged as “free from”!

You do need to add a good amount of butter and cream , to get that authentic indian butter chicken taste.

If for any health reasons , you need to avoid dairy (yoghurt, butter and cream) and make dairy free butter chicken ,I am suggesting a few alternatives below. Using below alternatives, this dish cannot even be called butter chicken as there is no butter in it, but still it is the closest to butter chicken, as rest of the ingredients remain the same.  

The taste will vary a bit, and it won’t be as  buttery but of course , nobody should have an excuse, to not have butter chicken !

Options to replace dairy (butter and cream) and make dairy free no butter, Butter chicken

  1. Use regular cooking oil/ olive oil instead of butter, if you do not want to use butter /ghee at all.
  2. Instead of cream, you can use cashew paste – It is a  good alternative for dairy free cream. To make cashew paste soak half cup of cashews in warm water for half an hour or more. Once they are a little soft, blend therein a blender to make cashew paste.
  3. If you do not want to use too many cashews, you can even use cashew and muskmelon seeds paste. This is  a good and healthier alternative to using cream, or just cashews.To make cashew and muskmelon seeds paste for dairy free butter chicken take 1/4 cup of cashews and half a cup of muskmelon seeds. Mix both and soak in warm water for half an hour or more. Once soft, blend these in a mixer/ blender to form a paste.
  4.  In this recipe, i have used yoghurt in the chicken marinade. However if you do not want to  use yoghurt , completely skip adding it to the marinade. Or else,Instead make a  paste of a tbsp of chickpea flour and little water and add it to the marinade inlace of yoghurt and add rest of the spices as in the recipe.

The above alternatives are only incase if you want to avoid adding any dairy products, for maybe health reasons, or any other reasons. Otherwise I would really suggest you use the real ingredients to enjoy the real butter chicken.

As I always say, workout a little more the next day, but enjoy the true taste of real natural food:), and anyways as I said, nobody eats butter chicken everyday , just enjoy it once in a while.

For this authentic murgh makhani recipe, I have used both cream and cashew/melon seeds paste , to make the taste more rich. However, you can use just cream as well.

Try this home cooked chicken curry recipe if you are looking for a simple but delicious chicken curry recipe to cook at home.

butter chicken

butter chicken

muskmelon seeds

muskmelon seeds

cashew and muskmelon seeds cream

cashew and muskmelon seeds paste

Best Chicken cuts to use for the authentic Murgh Makhani recipe

I use boneless skinless chicken for making butter chicken, but you can use ‘with bone’ as well. Just ensure the pieces are cut small.

For making any chicken curries, in UK I usually shop the chicken from the asian stores or local market .You need skinless chicken, and small chicken pieces.

Also for butter chicken, it is best to use the whole chicken, and not specifically using breast pieces or thigh pieces. Ask for whole skinless chicken, cut into small pieces , with or without bones.

However if you cannot find whole chicken , skinless chicken thighs or breast pieces can be used as well.

Simple Steps to make finger licking punjabi style Butter Chicken at home

Cooking butter chicken at home doesn’t have to be hard. You need a few simple ingredients that are easily available in the market. Home Cooked butter chicken involves three basic steps.

Start with marinating and grilling the chicken in the oven/ air fryer .

If you do not have an oven or air fryer, you can simply cook the marinated chicken slices in a grilling pan , or regular pan. Marinate the chicken overnight if you have time, or for a minimum of 4-5 hours.

It is best to plan ahead if you are thinking of making the butter chicken this weekend.

Next , prepare the creamy butter chicken sauce or gravy.

Once you have the tandoori chicken and butter chicken sauce ready, you just need to combine and cook these two together to make the heavenly combination that is called Murgh makhani / butter chicken.

Tandoori chicken Marinade

Preparing Chicken Marinade-This involves two marinades.

First Marinade-

This simple marinade helps to make the chicken pieces really juicy and soft.

Make a marinade of salt, chilli powder(you can use deghi mirch powder, Kashmiri chilli powder or paprika) and lemon juice.Add chicken pieces, and mix well. Cover with cling film, and keep in the refrigerator for half an  hour.

butter chicken

butter chicken

Second Marinade

For the second marinade you need Yoghurt ,mustard oil, a pinch of saffron dipped in 1 tsp of warm water, cumin powder, tandoori powder (this is easily available in any asian store, or even amazon), few cloves garlic, slice of ginger, a green chilli, garam masala powder, kasoori methi, chilli powder.

Most of the restaurants add red food colour to give that nice smoky red colour to the tandoori chicken, you do not need to add colour for home cooked butter chicken.

Adding saffron, degi mirch gives a little colour to the chicken, and it is natural, so a better alternative to using food colours.

Make a rough paste of the garlic/ green chilli and ginger.

Note-If the yoghurt is too thin, you can hang it in a muslin cloth for 30 minutes, so that the excess water drains out, and then use it. Or you can even use greek yoghurt, or homemade curd.

Mix all the ingredients of the second marinade together – yoghurt, garlic ginger chilli paste, mustard oil, saffron, cumin powder, tandoori powder, garam masala powder, salt, hand crushed kasoori methi ,red chilli powder.

Add the marinade over the chicken pieces (already marinated ), and cover these well with the second marinade.Combine well.

Cover the bowl with a cling film, and keep marinated in the refrigerator for a minimum for 4-5 hrs, or overnight if you are preparing these ahead of time.

butter chicken

Ginger garlic green chilli paste

butter chicken

Ginger garlic green chilli paste

butter chicken

butter chicken

butter chicken

butter chicken

Preparing Tandoori chicken

Oven: Put the marinated chicken pieces on the skewers, and bake it in the oven at 180 degrees for about 20 minutes, turning the skewers once in between so that all sides are nicely cooked.

Once it is done for about 20 minutes, brush a little butter on the pieces, and  then grill it in the oven for about 5 minutes. This gives a nice chargrilled effect to the pieces.

Air fryer tandoori chicken : Add the marinated chicken to the air fryer basket, and airfry at 180 degrees for 15- 18 mins till the chicken in done.make sure to flip / shake the pieces after half time to ensure even cooking.

Pan frying the chicken: You can also use a pan to cook the marinated chicken. Add a little butter in the pan, and lay down all chicken pieces in single flat layer, and cook them for about 7-8 minutes on one side. Then turn the side and cook, till all sides are evenly cooked.

tandoori chicken

tandoori chicken

tandoori chicken 1

tandoori chicken 1

butter chicken

tandoori chicken

tandoori chicken

tandoori chicken

Ingredients for the Creamy Butter chicken sauce / gravy

For that delicious creamy butter chicken sauce you need the below ingredients.

Butter – 2-3 tbsp of butter.  You can use homemade white butter, or you can use store-bought butter . Use either salted, or unsalted butter. Just adjust the amount of salt in the dish according to the butter you are using.

You can also use half butter / half ghee or oil of your choice.

Also you would need a small onion, tomatoes, crushed/grated ginger garlic, green chillies, whole spices- bay leaf, cardamom, black peppers, cloves, cinnamon stick, cream, sugar (or honey or jaggery),salt, chilli powder, deli mirchi powder, garam masala powder, kasoori methi.

You can use single cream in this recipe, however if you want a richer sauce for your butter chicken you can use double cream.

If you are using cashew/melonseed paste. then you would of course need cashews and melon seeds.

butter chicken

butter chicken

butter chicken

butter chicken

Cooking the butter chicken ( Murgh makhani ) sauce

In a thick bottomed pan, heat butter .

Add bay leaf, and the whole spices-cardamom, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon stick.Temper this for a minute.

Add grated ginger and garlic, sauté these for 2-3 minutes, till the raw aroma goes away.

Add chopped onions, and sauté, till these are golden brown.

Add pureed tomatoes, and sauté till the masala leaves oil on the sides, and is cooked properly.

butter chicken

butter chicken

butter chicken

butter chicken

butter chicken

butter chicken

If you are using the cashew/ melon seeds paste, add the paste at this step, and mix well. You need to keep stirring so that the paste does not stick to the pan. This would need 2-3 minutes on medium heat.If you are just using cream, add half of the cream .

Now add the dry spices-salt, red chilli powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, garam masala, kasoori methi.Mix well.Add  a cup of water, and simmer for a minute, till it starts boiling.

butter chicken

butter chicken

Once the butter chicken sauce/ gravy is done, add cream, and mix well.

Add a little sugar or honey. You can even use jaggery to sweeten this.

A little sweetness is added, as this recipe calls for adding lots of tomatoes, and that makes the gravy a little tangy. Adding a little sugar / honey/ jaggery helps to balance out that tanginess.Mix well

butter chicken

butter chicken sauce

Once everything is done,add the tandoori chicken pieces in hot gravy and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Add a dollop of butter, and a splash of cream.

Garnish it with ginger juliennes, and slit green chillies.

Make ahead option for butter chicken

The beauty of home cooked butter chicken is that it tastes more delicious a day or two after it is cooked. Yes you can always make ahead this tasty butter chicken recipe if you want to.

Another option is that you can make the butter chicken sauce few days in advance and refrigerate that . Add the tandoori chicken on the day you want to serve.

I prefer to cook the murgh makhani a day ahead , as the chicken pieces completely absorb the beautiful flavours of the makhani sauce and the butter chicken tastes more amazing the next day.

Storing home cooked butter chicken

Once the butter chicken in cool enough, any leftovers can be refrigerated for 4-5 days depending on the weather of the place you are at.If it is too hot it will stay good for 1-2 days.

You can freeze the butter chicken . I prefer to freeze it in foil trays, and then though it in the fridge for a few hours . The foil try can straightaway go to the oven to heat the butter chicken when you plan to serve it.

What to serve with homemade punjabi butter chicken ?

Butter chicken can be served with plain naan, butter naan, garlic naan,rumali roti, tandoori roti or rice.

The sauce and the complete dish is so rich in itself that butter chicken tastes amazing with everything. I personally love butter chicken with garlic naan.

Don’t forget the side of pickled onions while serving butter chicken though.

butter chicken

butter chicken

butter chicken

butter chicken

More delicious chicken recipes on the blog

Cream chicken recipe

Simple home cooked chicken curry recipe

Green chilli chicken recipe (Hari Mirch murgh )– This is the most loved recipe on the blog.

Grilled chicken and veggies recipe

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butter chicken

Butter Chicken recipe

anubhav mahajan
Tender juicy tandoori chicken pieces dipped in buttery creamy tomato gravy.
Prep Time 8 hours 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 8 hours 50 minutes
Course curry, Main Course
Cuisine Indian, north indian, punjabi
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

For first marinade

  • 1 kgs chicken Skinless and boneless
  • lemon juice Juice of one lemon
  • salt
  • degi mirchi/ kashmiri mirch powder paprika can be used

For second marinade

  • 2 tbsp yoghurt hung curd/ or thick yoghurt / greek yoghurt
  • 2 tsp mustard oil
  • a pinch of saffron dipped in 1/2 tsp of warm water
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 2 tsp tandoori powder
  • 5-6 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch slice of ginger
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp kasoori methi (dry fenugreek leaves) handcrused
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder

For the gravy

  • 2-3 tbsp butter use home made unsalted or store bought salted or unsalted
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4-5 pods cardamom slightly crushed
  • 3-4 black pepper whole
  • 2-3 cloves whole
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick whole
  • 1 small Onion Chopped fine
  • 3 medium tomatoes Pureed
  • 2 cloves garlic grated
  • 1 inch slice of ginger grated
  • ginger juliennes
  • 4-5 green chillies slit long
  • 7-8 cashews (if using)dipped in warm water for 15-20 min
  • 1 tbsp melon seeds (is using) dipped in warm water for 15-20 min
  • 1/2-3/4 cup thick cream
  • salt as per taste
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp degi mirchi powder/ kashmiri chilli powder can use mild paprika instead
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 tsp sugar/ honey/ jaggery
  • fresh coriander for garnishing
  • 1 tbsp butter for garnish
  • 1 tbsp cream garnishing

Instructions
 

First Marinade

  • Mix lemon juice, salt and Chilli (either of the three-paprika/ degi mirchi powder/ Kashmiri chilli powder).
  • Dip chicken pieces in the marinade, and coat the pieces nicely, with the marinade. Cover the bowl with a cling film, and keep in the refrigerator for half an hour
    butter chicken

Second marinade

  • Make a rough paste of the garlic/ green chilli and ginger.
  • Mix all the ingredients of the second marinade together – yoghurt, ginger garlic green chilli paste, mustard oil, saffron dipped in water, cumin powder, tandoori powder, garam masala powder, salt, hand crushed kasoori methi ,red chilli powder.
  • Pour the marinade over the chicken pieces (which are already marinated in the first marinade), cover these with the second marinade.Mix well.
    butter chicken
  • Cover the bowl with a cling film, and keep marinated in the refrigerator for a minimum for 4-5 hrs, or even overnight if you are preparing these ahead of time.

Butter chicken sauce / gravy

  • If you are using cashews and melon seeds- Blend and Make a paste of these.
    cashew and muskmelon seeds cream
  • In a thick bottomed pan, heat butter .
  • Add bay leaf, and rest of the whole spices-cardamom, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon stick.Temper this for a minute.
    butter chicken
  • Add grated ginger and garlic, sauté these for 2-3 minutes, till the raw aroma goes away.
  • Add chopped onions, and sauté, till these are golden brown.
    butter chicken
  • Add tomato puree, and sauté till the masala leaves oil on the sides, and is done.
    butter chicken
  • If you are using the cashew/ melon seeds paste, add the paste at this step, and mix well. You need to keep stirring so that the paste does not stick to the pan. This would need 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
    Add half quantity of the cream.
    butter chicken
  • Now add the dry spices-salt, red chilli powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, garam masala, kasoori methi.Mix well.
  • Add  a cup of water, and simmer for a minute, till it starts boiling
    butter chicken
  • Add rest of the cream cream, and mix well.
  • Add a little sugar or honey. You can even use jaggery to sweeten this.Mix well.
    butter chicken

To prepare tandoori chicken

  • Put the marinated chicken pieces, on a skewer, and heat on a wire rack for about 20 minutes at 180 degrees
    tandoori chicken
  • Turn them once after 10 minutes, so that it is done on all sides.
    butter chicken
  • Once almost done,Brush butter on the chicken pieces.and grill it for almost 2-5 minutes.
    tandoori chicken
  • Add the tandoori chicken pieces in hot gravy and simmer for 4-5 minutes.
    Add a dollop of butter, and a splash of cream.Mix.
    butter chicken
  • Garnish it with ginger juliennes, and slit green chillies, more cream.
    Serve it hot with butter naan, and  Indian pickled onions.

Notes

Options to replace dairy (butter and cream)-
  1. Use regular cooking oil/ olive oil instead of butter,if you do not want to use butter at all.
  2. Instead of cream, you can use cashew paste – It is a  good alternative for dairy free cream. Dip half cup of cashews in warm water for half an hour or more. Once they are a little soft, blend therein a blender to make cashew paste.
  3. If you do not want to use too many cashews, you can even use cashew and muskmelon seeds paste. This is  a good and healthier alternative to using cream, or just cashews.To make this take 1/4 cup of cashews and half a cup of musk melon seeds. mix both and dip in warm water for half an hour or more. Once soft, blend these in a mixer/ blender to form a paste.
  4.  In this recipe, i have used yoghurt in the chicken marinade. However if you do not want to  use yoghurt , completely skip adding it to the marinade. Or else,Instead make a  paste of a tbsp of chickpea flour and little water and add it to the marinade inlace of yoghurt and add rest of the spices as in the recipe.
The above alternatives are only incase if you want to avoid adding any dairy products, for maybe health reasons, or any other reasons. Otherwise I would really suggest you use the real ingredients to enjoy the real butter chicken.
If you do not have an oven, you can use the pan  or air fryer to cook the marinated chicken.
Air fryer tandoori chicken : Add the marinated chicken to the air fryer basket, and airfry at 180 degrees for 15- 18 mins till the chicken in done.make sure to flip / shake the pieces after half time to ensure even cooking.
In a pan : Add a little butter in the pan, and lay down all chicken pieces in single flat layer, and cook them for about 7-8 minutes on one side. Then turn the side and cook nicely on all sides.
Keyword butter, Butter chicken, chicken, chicken makhani, murgh makhani, mutton, dry mutton, recipe, indian recipes, food, non vegetarian

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