Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

5 from 7 votes

Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) is one of the most popular Indian curries all around the world. Learn to make the best homemade Indian butter chicken using my easy recipe.

If you love chicken curries, then here are some more for you – Bihari Chicken Curry, Chicken Tikka Masala, Malai Chicken, Chicken Chettinad, Chicken Vindaloo, and Methi Chicken.

Butter chicken served in a bowl.
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About Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani, Murgh Makhani) is a rich and creamy North Indian curry made using boneless chicken cubes, lots of butter, and spices. It is one of the most popular Indian dishes all around the world. Whichever North Indian restaurant you go to, you will definitely find it on their menu.

Butter Chicken Curry is rich, creamy, very lightly sweet, and mildly spiced, and is great to mop with warm homemade naan bread.

To make this chicken curry, chunks of boneless chicken are marinated in a yogurt marinade and then simmered in a buttery, tomato-based gravy.

I learned this homemade butter chicken recipe from one of the chefs at a very prestigious restaurant in India and I must say that it is one of the best recipes I have ever tasted. Although it is made using a few basic ingredients, it rivals any restaurant or take-out.

He shared with me some of the secret ingredients that chefs use to make this buttery tomato gravy and I am sharing all that I learned from him.

There is no recipe like this one on the internet and I urge you to try it just once. I am so confident about this recipe that I can promise you this is going to be the best chicken makhani you will ever make.

History Of Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken originated in Delhi, sometime during the 1950s.

A man named Kundal Lal Gujaral, who migrated to India from the newly formed Pakistan, opened a restaurant in Delhi called Moti Mahal. He served tandoori dishes in his restaurant.

There used to be a lot of leftover marinade and grilled chicken which he mixed with butter and tomatoes and created a new dish. He called this dish butter chicken. 

His new dish became very popular in Delhi and over time people from all over the world fell in love with his humble creation.

Ingredients

The ingredient list to make authentic Indian chicken makhani looks a little daunting at first but once you gather them all, the recipe is a breeze to make.

You will get all the ingredients to make this dish in any Indian grocery store or in a regular grocery store.

Butter Chicken Marination ingredients.
Butter chicken gravy ingredients 1
Butter chicken gravy ingredients 2

Chicken – Chicken makhani is made using skinless boneless chicken breasts. You can also use boneless skinless chicken thighs or even bone-in chicken pieces to make this Indian butter chicken recipe.

Marination Ingredients – To marinate the chicken, you will need thick whole plain yogurt (dahi, curd), coriander powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, ginger-garlic paste, garam masala powder, freshly squeezed lime juice, and salt.

To make thick yogurt, add some plain yogurt to a fine-mesh strainer and let the strainer sit over a bowl for an hour. The liquid from the yogurt will drip down in the bowl and you will be left with thick yogurt in the strainer. You can also use Greek yogurt in place of thick yogurt.

Gravy Ingredients

Cashew Nuts – Cashew nuts make the gravy creamy and rich.

Tomatoes – Use ripe red fresh tomatoes.

Whole Spices – Whole spices add a lovely flavor to the curry. You will need green cardamoms (hari elaichi), black cardamoms (badi elaichi), cinnamon (dalchini), cloves (laung), and black peppercorns (kali mirch).

Butter – This curry is cooked only in butter, hence the name. Use salted or unsalted butter.

Others – You will also need red onions, Kashmiri red chili powder, salt, unsweetened heavy cream, Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves), honey, and freshly squeezed lime juice.

Secret Ingredients

Ketchup – This is one of the secret ingredients that chefs add to their chicken makhani. It gives a nice tang and sweetness to the curry.

Khoya – Khoya is reduced milk solids. You will find it in the refrigerator section of Indian grocery stores. If khoya is not available, mix ¼ cup dry milk powder with some milk and make a dough. Use it in place of khoya.

Cheese – Add some shredded cheese to the gravy to make it extra rich. You will get Amul cheese in the refrigerator section of the Indian grocery store. Use it for the best result. If Amul cheese is not available, use a mix of mozzarella and cheddar cheese.

Lime juice can be replaced with lemon juice in this recipe.

You can use cayenne pepper in place of Kashmiri red chili powder.

Replace water with chicken broth to add more flavor to this delicious sauce.

Many people add coconut cream (full-fat coconut milk) to their butter chicken recipes but that is not traditional.

How To Make Butter Chicken

Marinate The Chicken

Wash 1 pound (500 g) skinless boneless chicken breasts and drain any extra water. Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes.

Mix the chicken pieces with

  • 2 tablespoon thick yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate the chicken for 2-3 hours or better overnight. The longer the chicken marinates, the softer and juicier it will turn out.

Chicken mixed with marination ingredients.

Grill The Chicken

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Arrange the marinated chicken on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Lining the tray with foil makes the clean-up super easy.

Keep the tray in the middle rack of the preheated oven and roast for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is nicely browned and tender.

Note – You can broil the ready chicken for 5 minutes to get that charred color and flavor.

Note – You can also grill the marinated chicken in a skillet over the stovetop.

Marinated chicken spread on a foil lined baking sheet.

Make The Gravy

While the chicken is roasting, make the gravy.

Heat 4 cups of water in a pan over medium-high heat.

When it comes to a boil, add

  • ½ cup cashew nuts
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped red onions
  • 2-3 whole green cardamoms
  • 2 whole black cardamoms
  • 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 3-4 whole black peppercorns

Cook for 8-10 minutes on medium heat.

Cashew nuts, tomato, onions, and whole spices added to a pan with boiling water.

Drain the water and add the boiled ingredients to a blender along with ½ cup of water.

Boiled ingredients added to a blender.

Blend to make a smooth paste.

Smooth paste made.

Pass the paste through a fine-mesh strainer. Keep pressing the paste with the back of a spoon to get a maximum smooth paste. Discard the rough residue.

Paste passing through a strainer.
Creamy smooth paste in a bowl.

Heat 3 tablespoon butter in a pan over medium-high heat.

Butter heating in a pan.

Once the butter is melted, add 2 teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder and saute for 2-3 seconds. Adding red chili powder to hot butter gives a lovely color to the curry.

Note – Be quick after adding the red chili powder otherwise it may burn.

Kashmiri red chili powder added to the pan.

Add the cashew nut paste to the pan along with ½ cup water and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Cashew nut paste and water added to the pan.

Now add

  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon ketchup
  • 50 g crumbled khoya
  • 50 g shredded processed cheese
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoon Kasuri methi
  • 2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice

to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Ketchup, khoya, cheese, cream, Kasurimethi, lime juice and honey added to the pan.

Remove the chicken from the oven and add it to the pan. Adjust the gravy by adding more water if needed. Check for salt and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Garnish with cream swirls and serve hot.

Grilled chicken added to the ready butter chicken gravy.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between butter chicken and chicken tikka masala?

Both butter chicken and chicken tikka masala are made by simmering grilled chicken pieces in gravy but their gravies are very different from each other. While the gravy of butter chicken is buttery and sweet, chicken tikka masala gravy is robust and spicy. Butter chicken gravy is silky smooth in texture while chicken tikka masala gravy is lightly chunky.

Is butter chicken healthy?

No, it is not a healthy curry. It has lots of butter, heavy cream, etc added to it. I suggest making this curry occasionally and not on a regular basis.

Can I use leftover tandoori chicken to make this recipe?

Yes, you can. Just make the gravy and add the leftover tandoori chicken pieces to it. Cook for 2-3 minutes and serve.

Serving Suggestions

Butter Chicken is best served with Indian bread like Naan, Garlic Naan, or Lachha Paratha. It also tastes great with Roti, Plain Tawa Paratha, Tandoori Roti, or Missi Roti.

You can also serve it with Steamed Basmati Rice, Jeera Rice, or Peas Pulao.

Whenever I serve it at home, I always serve some Vinegar Onions, Green Chutney, and Coke on the side.

Storage Suggestions

Butter Chicken can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Let it cool completely before transferring it to the container.

Reheat it in a pan or in a microwave. Add a splash of water if the gravy has thickened.

You can also freeze it for up to a month in a freezer-safe container. Thaw it overnight in the refrigerator or for 3-4 hours over the countertop. Reheat and serve.

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Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) is one of the most popular Indian curries all around the world. Learn to make the best homemade Indian butter chicken using my easy recipe.
5 from 7 votes

Best Indian Butter Chicken Recipe (Murgh Makhani)

Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) is one of the most popular Indian curries all around the world. Learn to make the best homemade Indian butter chicken using my easy recipe.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Marination Time: 3 hours
Total: 3 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 4 people

Ingredients 

To Marinate The Chicken

  • 1 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts (500 g)
  • 2 tablespoons thick yogurt (dahi, curd) (or Greek yogurt)
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala powder
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt

To Make The Gravy

  • ½ cup cashew nuts
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • 2-3 whole green cardamoms (hari elaichi)
  • 2 whole black cardamoms (badi elaichi)
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick (dalchini)
  • 3-4 cloves (laung)
  • 3-4 whole black peppercorns (kali mirch)
  • 3 tablespoons butter (salted or unsalted)
  • 2 teaspoons Kashmiri red chili powder
  • salt (to taste)
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 ounce khoya (50 g, crumbled)
  • 2 ounce processed cheese (50 g, shredded)
  • ½ cup unsweetened heavy cream
  • 2 teaspoons Kasuri methi
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
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Instructions 

Marinate The Chicken

  • Wash the chicken breasts and drain any extra water. Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes.
  • Mix the chicken pieces with thick yogurt, coriander powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, ginger-garlic paste, garam masala powder, lime juice, and salt.
  • Cover the bowl and refrigerate the chicken for 2-3 hours or better overnight. The longer the chicken marinates, the softer and juicier it will turn out.

Grill The Chicken

  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  • Arrange the marinated chicken on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Lining the tray with foil makes the clean-up super easy.
  • Roast for 25-30 minutes until the chicken is nicely browned and tender.
  • Note – You can broil the ready chicken for 5 minutes to get that charred color and flavor.
  • Note – You can also grill the marinated chicken in a skillet over the stovetop.

Make the Gravy

  • Heat 4 cups of water in a pan over medium-high heat.
  • When it comes to a boil, add cashew nuts, tomatoes, onions, green cardamoms, black cardamoms, cinnamon, cloves, and black peppercorns.
  • Cook for 8-10 minutes on medium heat.
  • Drain the water and add the boiled ingredients to a blender along with ½ cup of water.
  • Blend to make a smooth paste.
  • Pass the paste through a fine-mesh strainer. Keep pressing the paste with the back of a spoon to get maximum smooth paste. Discard the rough residue.
  • Heat butter in a pan over medium-high heat.
  • Once the butter is melted, add Kashmiri red chili powder and saute for 2-3 seconds. Adding red chili powder to hot butter gives a lovely color to the curry.
  • Note – Be quick after adding the red chili powder otherwise it may burn.
  • Add the cashew nut paste to the pan along with ½ cup water and cook for 4-5 minutes.
  • Now add salt, ketchup, khoya, processed cheese, heavy cream, Kasuri methi, honey, and lime juice to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and add it to the pan. Adjust the gravy by adding more water if needed. Check for salt and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Garnish with cream swirls and serve hot.

Notes

To make thick yogurt, add some plain yogurt to a fine-mesh strainer and let the strainer sit over a bowl for an hour. The liquid from the yogurt will drip down in the bowl and you will be left with thick yogurt in the strainer. You can also use Greek yogurt in place of thick yogurt.
If khoya is not available, mix ¼ cup dry milk powder with some milk and make a dough. Use it in place of khoya.
If processed cheese (Amul)  is not available, use a mix of mozzarella and cheddar cheese.

Nutrition

Calories: 656kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 34g, Fat: 46g, Saturated Fat: 22g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g, Monounsaturated Fat: 16g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 154mg, Sodium: 1212mg, Potassium: 684mg, Fiber: 4g, Sugar: 15g, Vitamin A: 1723IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 359mg, Iron: 4mg
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Recipe Rating




5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made your beautiful Butter Chicken for my son and his co-workers and they absolutely loved it! A couple said it was some of the best they have ever eaten—those compliments go to you, friend, since I followed your recipe as exactly as possible! Thank you! I will definitely cook this again, as well as many more of your recipes.

  2. Thank you for this recipe! Such a delicious butter chicken. Even though I did lots of (relatively minor) subs… I replaced the ghee with coconut oil, the hung curd with plain yogurt, the cashew paste with tahini, and the cream with yogurt mixed with a bit of milk.

    1. 5 stars
      Fantastic recipe Neha !this butter chicken tasted awesome,I have tried many of ur indian chicken recipes..wat I love about them is the authenticity in taste n the detailing you give ..thanks a tonne for the no fail recipes you put up 🙂