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Butter Chicken recipe
Prep Time
8 hrs 20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
8 hrs 50 mins

Chunky juicy tandoori chicken pieces dipped in buttery tomato gravy.

Course: curry, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, north indian, punjabi
Keyword: butter, Butter chicken, chicken, murgh makhani, mutton, dry mutton, recipe, indian recipes, food, non vegetarian
Servings: 4 people
Author: anubhav mahajan
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
First Marinade
  1. Mix lemon juice, salt and Chilli (either of the three-paprika/ degi mirchi powder/ Kashmiri chilli powder).

  2. 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
  1. Make a rough paste of the garlic/ green chilli and ginger.

  2. 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.

  3. 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
  4. 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 gravy
  1. If you are using cashews and melon seeds- Make a paste of these.

    cashew and muskmelon seeds cream
  2. In a thick bottomed pan, heat butter .

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

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

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

    butter chicken
  6. Add tomato puree, and sauté till the masala leaves oil on the sides, and is done.

    butter chicken
  7. 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.

    butter chicken
  8. Now add the dry spices-salt, red chilli powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, garam masala, kasoori methi.Mix well.

  9. Add  a cup of water, and simmer for a minute, till it starts boiling

    butter chicken
  10. Add cream, and mix well.

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

    butter chicken
To prepare tandoori chicken
  1. Put the marinated chicken pieces, on a skewer, and heat on a wire rack for about 15-18minutes at 180 degrees

    tandoori chicken
  2. Turn them once after 10 minutes, so that it is done on all sides.

    butter chicken
  3. once almost done,Brush butter on the chicken pieces.and grill it for almost 2-5 minutes.

    tandoori chicken
  4. Once everything is done- the chicken is cooked and the gravy is ready, 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. Garnish it with ginger jullienes, and slit green chillies, more cream. Serve it hot with butter naan, and  Indian pickled onions.

    butter chicken
Recipe 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!!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.

If you do not have an oven, you can use the 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 nicely on all sides.