Butter Chicken is one of the most popular Indian curries all around the world. Check out the homemade butter chicken recipe I learned from a chef. It is made using simple ingredients, comes together in 30 minutes, and rivals any restaurant or take-out.
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.
About This Recipe
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 is rich, creamy, very lightly sweet, and mildly spiced, and is great to mop with warm naan bread.
To make this 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 basic ingredients, it rivals any restaurant or take-out.
He shared with me some of the secret ingredients that chefs use to make this curry 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.
This homemade version is also lighter as it doesn’t use tons of butter which is a norm in restaurants. It will leave you satisfied and not bloated and ill.
History Of Butter Chicken
Butter Chicken originated in Delhi, sometime during the 1950s. A man named Kundal Lal Gujaral, who migrated to Indian 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.
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.
Chicken – Chicken Makhani is made using boneless chicken breasts. But in cooking, there are no rules, so go ahead and use whichever cut you like.
Marination Ingredients – To marinate the chicken, you will need thick yogurt, coriander powder, Kashmiri red chili powder, ginger-garlic paste, garam masala powder, 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.
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 cardamom, black cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and black peppercorns.
Butter – This curry is cooked only in butter, hence the name. Use salted or unsalted butter.
Others – You will also need onions, Kashmiri red chili powder, salt, heavy cream, Kasuri methi, honey, and lime juice.
Ketchup – This is one of the secret ingredients that chefs add to their chicken makhani. It gives a nice tang and sweetness to teh 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.
How To Make Butter Chicken
Marinate The Chicken
Wash 1 pound (500 g) 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 lime juice, and 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.
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
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 onions, 2-3 whole green cardamoms, 2 whole black cardamoms, 1-inch piece of cinnamon stick, 3-4 cloves, and 3-4 whole 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 3 tablespoon butter in a pan over medium-high heat.
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.
Add the cashew nut paste to the pan along with ½ cup water and cook for 4-5 minutes.
Now add salt to taste, 2 tablespoon ketchup, 50 g crumbled khoya, 50 g shredded processed cheese, ½ cup heavy cream, 2 teaspoon Kasuri methi, 2 tablespoon honey, and 1 tablespoon 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
Butter Chicken is best served with Indian bread like Naan, Garlic Naan, or Lachha Paratha. It also tastes great with Roti, Paratha, Tandoori Roti, or Missi Roti.
You can also serve it with Jeera Rice or Peas Pulao.
Whenever I serve it at home, I always serve some Vinegar Onions, Coriander Mint Chutney, and Coke on the side.
Butter Chicken can be refrigerated in an airtight container for upto 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 upto 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 Recipe
To Marinate The Chicken
- 1 pound boneless chicken breasts (500 g)
- 2 tablespoons thick yogurt (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 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
- 2 whole black cardamoms
- 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick
- 3-4 cloves
- 3-4 whole black peppercorns
- 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 heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons Kasuri methi
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
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, whole green cardamoms, whole black cardamoms, cinnamon stick, cloves, and whole 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.
Fabulous curry dear….i had this in my draft to post today too neha…:)
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 🙂
Happy to hear 🙂
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.
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.