Indian Butter Chicken, also known as "Murg" or "Murgh Makhani," consists of savory chicken sauteed in an aromatic, buttery tomato sauce, accented with coconut milk and and served over basmati rice.
You'll love this recipe!
This delicious Indian curry dish includes tender bite-size pieces of chicken in a buttery, spicy, creamy coconut-tomato sauce with hints of fragrant basmati rice and a splash of citrus from the cilantro garnish!
The array of Indian spices are what really make this dish shine and you can make this recipe as mild or spicy as you like.
Here's what you'll need
Ingredients for the chicken and sauce: chicken breast, butter, yogurt, onion, tomato sauce, ginger, garlic, red curry paste, coconut milk and turmeric.
Spice Mixture for 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, but most of these spices can be found in your grocery store.
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)
The easiest way to prepare Indian Butter Chicken is to do it in steps.
While the cubed chicken is marinating in yogurt and spices, lightly toast the cardamom and clove then prepare the sauce.
While the sauce is simmering, (in a separate skillet), brown the chicken.
Add the cooked chicken to the sauce; prepare rice and serve.
Indian Butter Chicken is not too spicy, but if you like a lot of spice add additional red curry paste, cayenne or red pepper flakes.
White or dark meat
This Butter Chicken recipe calls for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes. Note, you can use white or dark meat in this recipe however, chicken breast is easier to cut into cubes.
What kind of yogurt
Use a plain, "non-Greek" yogurt. Greek yogurt is thicker than French and American yogurts. A thin yogurt coats the chicken better than a thick, 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.
What's the difference between Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala?
Believe it or not, Indian Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala are two of London's most popular dishes! You'll find either creamy curry dish on just about every street corner!
Butter chicken is native to India and Tikka Masala originated in London, however, the difference between the two is a subtle difference in the smooth curry sauce.
Make ahead and reheating
- To make ahead, cube and brown chicken and store in fridge for up to 3-days. When ready to serve, make the creamy sauce, add chicken and allow to simmer until chicken is heathed thoroughly.
- Reheat the sauce and chicken separately from the rice in the microwave.
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Butter Chicken (Indian Butter Chicken or Murg Makhani)
- 1 ½ lbs. chicken (chicken breast; cut into ¼ inch cubes)
- 1 cup plain yogurt or kefir do not use Greek yogurt
- Spice Mix Ingredients
Spice Mix Ingredients
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoon coriander ground
- 1 teaspoon cumin ground
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ¾ cup tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste
- ¾ cup coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons turmeric
- ½ teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (Kasoori Methi)
- 6 cardamom pods (optional) toasted and ground
- 3 whole cloves (optional) toasted and ground
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cut chicken breasts into ¼ inch cubes
- In a small bowl, combine yogurt and Spice Mix ingredients; mix well; place cubed chicken in a bowl or big plastic bag and pour marinade over chicken; coat chicken well; 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
Cook the Chicken
- In a large stockpot, add oil and brown marinated chicken until the internal temperature reaches 165ºF; remove chicken to parchment lined baking sheet and set aside
Make the Sauce
- In the same large stockpot, heat oil to medium temperature; add onions, ginger and garlic; saute for a few minutes
- Add tomato sauce, coconut milk, butter 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