8 Jan



A flavoursome healthier home style butter chicken bursting with the goodness

of fresh tomatoes.This is a recipe in which the marinated chicken

is pan fried as against traditionally grilled or baked in a tandoor.

Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani to give it it’s correct name, is a typical

Punjabi dish which is now popular in many countries all over the world. 


It is a rich creamy dish and can be made as mild or as

spicy as you like

accordingly to suit your palate and tastebuds.It originated

to end the

problem of excess chicken tikka, which if left overnight,

gets hard &  fibrous.


 This was in the ’50s at the Moti Mahal restaurant in Daryaganj, a

neighbourhood skirting the Walled City. Famed for their tandoori chicken, the

cooks there used to recycle the leftover chicken juices in the marinade trays

by adding butter and tomato. Once this sauce was tossed around with

tandoor-cooked chicken pieces – butter chicken was born.

The dish appealed to Delhiites and was quickly lapped up by the rest of the

country, and the world. Today, eating butter chicken in Moti Mahal is like

reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

The play’s dialogues have lent so many popular phrases to the English

language that if you read Hamlet for the first time, you feel you have read

it before. In the same way, having Moti Mahal’s butter chicken for the first

time in your life may give rise to the déjà vu feeling — “Have Itasted it before?”

The dish has spread from Daryaganj’s landmark restaurant to every

self-respecting non-vegetarian eatery in Delhi, over to the highway dhabas of

north India. Best had with tandoori roti or naan, butter chicken is creamy,

with a thick, red tomato gravy.

butter chiken

It tastes slightly sweet and the sauce percolates so deeply into the chicken

pieces that they become juicy and soft, instantly melting in your mouth. The

dish is so extravagantly buttery, that, to a calorie-conscious diner, it may

seem as gross as the showiness of nouveau riche Delhiites.

A gourmand, however, doesn’t care. The butter chicken’s addictive quality

makes it difficult for him to stop before licking all the

gravy off the

plate.- the hindustan times.


  • Chicken – 600-700 gms (with bone)

For the first marinade:

  • Lime Juice of 1 lime
  • Red chili powder – 1 tbsp
  • Salt to taste

For the second marinade:

  • Yogurt – ½ cup / thick
  • Garlic paste – 1 tbsp
  • Ginger – 1 tbsps
  • Rock salt – 1 tsp
  • Garam Masala – 1 tsp
  • Kasoori methi – ½ tsp (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • olive Oil – 1 tbsp
  • sunflower oil – 2 tbls

making butter-chiken


Make 2 deep incisions each in both breast pieces &  drumsticks. Mix all ingredients on the first marinade & rub well into chicken pieces. Keep aside for twenty minutes.

For the second marinade-

Hang yogurt in a muslin cloth for fifteen to twenty minutes to remove extra water or you could just use greek yogurt. Mix all ingredients(except sunflower oil) well & rub into chicken pieces till they are well coated. Leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Remove the marinated chicken from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature.Heat a non stick frying pan and add two tbls of refined oil.Once it is hot, add a few chicken pieces at a time and sear them on high heat, till they develop a rich caramelized crust and are slightly charred around the edges. Remove to a plate and repeat with the remaining pieces.Now, return all the seared pieces to pan and fry them all together. Toss the lime juice
and any remaining marinate. continue to fry the chicken, till it is almost fully cooked and turns a lovely, charred, golden brown.

For the makhani or tomato sauce:-

  • Ripe, red tomatoes – 800gms (pureed)
  • olive Oil – 2 tbsp
  • Onion – 1 large / chopped
  • Red Chili powder – 1 tsp
  • 1 tsp – sugar/honey
  • Garam masala – 1 tsp
  • Cumin/Zeera powder – 1tsp
  • Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp
  • Cashew paste – 2 tbsp (soak a handful of cashews,grind)
  • whole garam masala- 1tsp
  • Green chili – 1-2 / finely chopped
  • ghee 2 tsp (optional)
  • evaporated milk(unsweetened) – 1 full cup
  • Kasoori methi – 1 tsp
  • fresh coriander to garnish

butter chiken3


Heat the oil in a pan,Add the whole garam masala – green cardamoms, cloves,peppercorns and cinnamon.Add onion & sauté for a few seconds. Add gingergarlic paste and chopped green chilies.

Add tomato puree, red chilli powder, garam masala powder, salt and one cup of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for ten minutes. Add sugar or honey and powdered kasoori methi.

Add the thick spicy tomato gravy to the cooked chicken (non-stick pan) and de-glaze the pan to lift up those intense pan deposits.Cook on medium heat, stirring well to make sure the chicken is fully submerged and coated in the delicious gravy

Simmer uncovered to reduce the gravy. Add the evaporated milk and simmer for few more minutes till the thickness is achieved.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves & green chilies, as desired.

serve hot with paratha or naan, & a salad of onion rings tossed in lime juice & salt.

For an authentic and traditional cooked-over-the-coals flavour:

When the Butter Chicken is cooked, make a small bowl shape with aluminum foil and place it on top of the curry/sauce (‘floating’ on it). Heat a briquette of charcoal on an open flame till red hot and gently put the charcoal in to the aluminum foil bowl. Cover the dish immediately. Remove the cover just before serving, discard the foil bowl and charcoal and serve. The curry will be infused with a smokey flavor!


  • The chicken should be a broiler, weighing no more than 600-700 gms. This
  • Recipe is made ‘best with bones’, & you can’t make butter chicken with anything other than tandoori chicken.
  • It tastes best when fresh tomatoes (bright red ones) are used, as compared to ready made tomato puree from the market.
  • To balance the sourness of the tomatoes,a bit of sugar/honey is used.
  • To get the right creamy thick consistency, add cashew paste.
  • The sauce is brilliantly flavoured & quite mild despite the garam masala,red & green chilies due to the abundant use of ripe tomatoes.
  • Evaporated milk can be repalced with fresh cream.

butter chiken2

Evaporated milk is fresh, homogenized milk from which 60 percent of the water has been removed. After the water has been removed, the product is chilled, stabilized, packaged and sterilized. It is commercially sterilized at 240-245 °F (115-118 °C) for 15 minutes. A slightly caramelized flavor results from the high heat process, and it is slightly darker in color than fresh milk. The evaporation process also concentrates the nutrients and the food energy. Thus, for the same weight, undiluted evaporated milk contains more food energy than fresh milk.

butter chiken1

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