Indian Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani)
Indian Butter Chicken consists of savory chicken sauteed in an aromatic, seasoned sauce and served over basmati rice.
It’s is also known in Hindi as Murg or Murgh Makhani– “Murg” or “Murgh” means “chicken”; “Makhani” means “with butter.” This delicious Indian dish includes tender bite-size pieces of chicken in a buttery, spicy, creamy sauce with hints of fragrant basmati rice and a splash of citrus from the cilantro garnish! Just thinking about it makes my mouth water!
Spices for Indian Butter Chicken
At first glance, the ingredient list is overwhelming…but it’s mostly a pinch of this and a pinch of that. Some of the spices and seasonings aren’t first nature, especially if you don’t cook ethnic and Indian dishes. Most of these spices can be found in your grocery store; however, if you can’t find them at your local grocer, you might try a nearby Indian market, or order them online.
- Garam Masala
- Cayenne pepper
- Fenugreek leaves
How to Make Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani)
- Marinate the chicken
- Prepare the seasonings
- Cook the chicken
- Make the sauce
The history of Indian Butter Chicken hails from Pakistan where over 100 years ago, a young chef, Kundan Lal Gujral, was experimenting with tandoori. He decided to toss some chicken in yogurt and fire it in the clay oven and behold, it was a success! Today, Indian Butter Chicken is recognized as a staple menu item in Indian restaurants worldwide.
This dish is not spicy-hot, but it can be! If you like a lot of spice, once you’ve made the chicken and sauce, add red curry paste, cayenne or red pepper flakes.
What Type of Chicken Should I Use for Indian Butter Chicken?
Either white or dark works in this recipe; however, dark meat is a bit more flavorful than white. Conversely, white chicken breast is easier to cut into cubes. This recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken thighs, but you can use white breast meat.
What Type of Yogurt Should I Use?
Use a “non-Greek” yogurt. Greek yogurt is thicker than French and American yogurts. A thin yogurt coats the chicken better than a thick, Greek yogurt.
I Don’t Have or Can’t Find Plain “Non-Greek” Yogurt!
If you cannot find a plain, non-Greek yogurt, not to worry! Substitutions that work equally well include kefir, cultured milk, buttermilk or sour cream.
Step by Step Indian Chicken
Here’s a Step by Step Visual:)Indian Butter Chicken - Murg Makhani
Savory cubed chicken in an Indian-inspired, flavorful and aromatic sauce served over basmati rice.
- 1 ½ lbs. chicken
- 1 cup plain yogurt or kefir do not use Greek yogurt
- Spice Mix Ingredients
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoon coriander ground
- 1 teaspoon cumin ground
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 thumb grated ginger
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3/4 cup tomato sauce
- 3/4 cup coconut milk
- 6 cardamom pods (optional) toasted and ground
- 3 whole cloves (optional) toasted and ground
- 2 tablespoons turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (Kasoori Methi)
- salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl, combine Chicken Marinade ingredients; mix well; place chicken in a bowl or big plastic bag and pour marinade over chicken; refrigerate for at least 30 minutes
In a hot dry skillet, on medium heat, toast cardamom pods and cloves for about 4 minutes; then, place them in a coffee grinder and grind them finely; reserve for sauce
In a large stockpot, add oil and brown chicken on first side for 6 minutes; turn the chicken over and cook until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF; remove chicken to parchment lined baking sheet and allow to cool
Once chicken has cooled, cut into cube sized pieces
In the same large stockpot, heat oil to medium temperature; add onions, ginger and garlic; saute for a few minutes then
Add tomato sauce, coconut milk and red curry paste to chicken mixture; combine well
Add remaining seasonings and spices; add cubed, cooked chicken back to skillet; coat well; allow to simmer then serve over basmati rice; garnish with cilantro
- At first glance, this recipe looks complicated due to all of the seasonings and spices, but it's really not...here's the break-down:
- Marinate the chicken; grind the cardamom pods and cloves; make the seasoning spice
- Cook the chicken; remove chicken from skillet
- Add everything else to skillet (except the chicken); allow flavors to combine
- Add the chicken back into the sauce; let it simmer; serve over basmati rice
- After you've seasoned and cooked the chicken and made the sauce, taste for salt and heat. If you want more heat, add red pepper flakes, cayenne or red curry paste; if you want less heat, add more coconut milk
If you like this dish, you might be interested in “How to Create a Culinary Masterpiece!“