Better Than Restaurant Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

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Try this authentic Butter Chicken recipe. Juicy tender chicken in a flavorful, creamy tomato-based sauce! It can also be made in an instant pot. Serve it with naan or roti to mope up its rich and delicious sauce!

Butter chicken in a round white dish.

Indian Butter Chicken Recipe (Makhani Murghi)

Is there anything more comforting than a warm bowl of flavorful, spicy, creamy chicken? Of course not, at least for me. 

This butter chicken recipe is an excellent way to make authentic Indian restaurant quality butter chicken at home. It has rich, hearty flavors that are unreplicable.

Murgh makhani the Indian butter chicken.

This authentic butter chicken recipe is extremely delicious and easy to make. It is filling and bursting with flavor. It goes well with naan, roti, or even rice and vegetables. 

I’ve made this recipe multiple times, and it is the best butter chicken ever. I liked it, and I think everyone in your family will too. You can make this Indian recipe on a weeknight to treat yourself after a busy day because it’s so easy and tasty.

What Is Butter Chicken?

Butter chicken, also called Murgh makhani, is a traditional Indian dish made by simmering marinated and grilled chicken in an aromatic, spicy, creamy, and buttery tomato gravy. This mouthwatering dish is prevalent among Indian food lovers all over the world.

You might think Butter Chicken has been around for a long time, but it was just created in the mid-1900s! Kundan Lal Gujral and Kundan Lal Jaggi made this popular dish at their restaurant in Delhi, India, called Moti Mahal, in the 1950s. It was created by mistake when they mixed leftover tandoori chicken with butter and a tomato-based gravy.

Butter chicken curry.

Do butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala Differ?

It’s common to mistake chicken tikka masala for butter chicken. They’re both similar but not the same.

Chicken tikka masala uses slightly different spices, and its gravy does not use butter. Instead, it uses natural yogurt. It is rooted in the chicken tikka dish. 

On the other hand, butter chicken uses a lesser variety of spices and some food coloring to add color to the chicken and has butter for its masala. It is based on the chicken tandoori dish. 

However, the essence is the same. Both use pre-marinated grilled chicken that simmered in masala sauce.

Why Will You Love This Dish?

  • Perfect balance: It has the ideal amount of buttery, creamy richness without getting too heavy.
  • Mild flavor: Many people may enjoy it without worrying that the intense flavors will burn their tongues because it’s not overly spicy. Yet, you can always add more chilies if you prefer a spicier taste.
  • Fresh Items: Made using fresh ingredients that pack a punch and don’t leave you feeling heavy and sick afterward.
  • Convenient: This is an easy butter chicken recipe you can make anytime because the ingredients are readily available at your local grocery store.
  • Meal Prep: You may freeze this dish in two or three batches for later meal plans or weekday lunches. You can easily multiply the recipe.
  • Well-known: Its flavorful and visually appealing texture and rich aroma make it well-liked worldwide.
Murgh makhani.

Ingredients

For The Grilled Chicken:

  • Chicken: Using boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs is OK.
  • Salt: Use natural sea salt.
  • Lemon: Add some fresh lime juice first. If necessary, you can add more.
  • Yogurt: I prefer plain yogurt, but you can also use Greek or low-fat yogurt.
  • Brown onion: Onions have a savory, slightly sweet flavor and set the base of any curry.  
  • Garlic and Ginger: It is better to use fresh garlic & ginger for a strong flavor.
  • Chili: To give the recipe an extra boost, add some green chili. Use according to your tastes.
  • Garam masala: Another essential ingredient for this easy chicken recipe.
  • Orange food coloring (optional): For a bright, vibrant color.

For The Masala Sauce:

  • Tomato paste/puree: The curry sauce, of course, is made with tomatoes. For a stronger tomato taste, I use tomato paste and crushed tomatoes from a can. You can use fresh tomatoes when they are in season.
  • Water
  • Salted butter: Because it is butter chicken, butter is a must ingredient. There is no alternative. Instead, you can use unsalted butter or ghee.
  • Ginger: Add a flavor and help in digestion.
  • Garam masala: A spice blend that creates an amazing aroma and flavor in this dish.
  • Ground cumin: Often used in Indian cooking to add warmth and earthiness flavor to this sauce.
  • Salt: According to taste.
  • Sugar: There are so many savory flavors in butter chicken. A little sugar helps to balance things out.
  • Kashmiri red chili powder: Adds heat and beautiful color.
  • Cilantro leaves:  For garnish.
  • Green chili: Add a kick of heat.
  • Lemon juice: For a bit of zing.
  • Single cream: To achieve the well-known velvety gravy of butter chicken, you will require fresh cream, either single or double, depending on personal preference.

How To Make Butter Chicken Recipe (Murgh Makhani)

Photo collage how to make chicken tandoori.
  1. First, we’ll start to prepare the chicken. Add salt and lemon juice. Mix well. Use a skewer or a fork to pierce the chicken. 
  2. The next step is to marinate the chicken. Place the diced onion, chili, garlic, yogurt, and garam masala in a food processor or chopper. Process until everything is well combined, and the mixture is smooth. 
  3. Add the spice mixture to the chicken bowl. If using food coloring, add some. After thoroughly mixing, let the chicken marinate covered in refrigeration for at least 20 minutes. 
  4. Preheat the oven to 400°F/ 200°C. Place the chicken in the oven to bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Next, start making the sauce. Mix tomato paste and water well to make a smooth tomato mixture. 
  6. Add garam masala, ground cumin, salt, sugar, Kashmiri red chili powder, ginger, chopped chili and cilantro, lemon juice, and cream. Blend everything thoroughly until a creamy, smooth consistency is achieved.
  7. In a medium skillet or pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Pour the tomato mixture into the pan.
  8. Reduce the heat to low and let the butter chicken sauce simmer for about 5 minutes.
  9. Add the chicken pieces to the sauce and cook the chicken for three to five minutes or until the fat slightly separates from the edges.

The authentic-tasting butter chicken is ready to serve!

Photo collage of how to cook chicken tandoor in butter masala sauce.

What to Serve with Butter Chicken?

Many things go well with butter chicken. Here are a few basic options:

  • Cooked Rice: You can use any grains, quinoa, bulgur wheat, or rice. These are good examples for you to try. I usually use basmati rice.
  • Naan: I love to eat the entire sauce with warm, aromatic, homemade naan bread. But chapati/ roti is also another good option. Have you tried this Naan Bread Recipe With No Yeast?
  • Salad: Serve fresh salad with the curry to balance its richness and complete the dinner. A basic salad with cucumber, lettuce, and tomato with lemon and olive oil dressing works well.

Storage Suggestions

  • Make ahead: The best thing about this sauce/gravy is that it may be made in advance if necessary. After it’s thoroughly cooled, please put it in an airtight container or a glass jar and put it in the fridge for up to 48 hours. There will be plenty of time for those deep flavors to form and shine before you add the chicken. This is all optional, of course.
  • Store: In an airtight container, you can store this dish in the refrigerator for up to two days. Before storing it in the container, let it cool fully.
  • Freeze: In a freezer-safe container, you can freeze it for up to one month. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight or on the countertop for 3-4 hours. Reheat and serve.
  • Reheat: Use a pan or a microwave to reheat it. Add a little water to adjust the consistency if the gravy gets too thick.

Tips And Tricks

The following tips will help you make a delicious and mouthwatering butter chicken every time:

  • Grainy makhani sauce: If the sauce is grainy after mixing, it is most likely due to too much onion. Blend the sauce with one tablespoon of water until it is smooth.
  • Doneness: Make sure the chicken pieces are cooked thoroughly but not overcooked. Cook until they’re done (165°F/ 74°C internal temperature), not longer. Otherwise, the meat will be hard.
  • Gram Masala: Make your own garam masala if you can’t find any. Making your own masala at home is not only more cost-effective but also better quality.
  • Marination: Do not skip the marination. It adds flavor to the chicken, making every bite delicious. You can prick the chicken using a skewer or a fork to ensure the flavor goes right inside the meat.
  • Marinating Time: Allowing the chicken to marinate for an extended period (preferably overnight) enhances the absorption of flavors and results in more tender meat. If you’re in a hurry, 20 minutes of marination is OK, but make sure you prick the chicken as suggested above. 
  • Instant pot: You can cook the butter chicken in an instant pot if you prefer.
Indian murgh makhani.

Substitutions & Variations

  • Chicken: The best chicken for this recipe is boneless skinless chicken thighs, which stay juicy until the very end of cooking, while chicken breasts tend to dry out quickly.
  • Substitutions for cream: You can use half-and-half cream if you’d like.
  • Alternative Cooking Methods: If no oven or grill is available, you can pan-fry the marinated chicken until it’s cooked through.
  • Cashew Nut Paste: For added creaminess and a slightly nutty flavor, blend a handful of soaked and softened cashew nuts into a paste and add it to the sauce. Just make sure you don’t serve this for those who have a nut allergy. 

FAQs

Is Butter Chicken Eaten In Pakistan?

The dish is popular in many nations with a large South Asian population, including India and Pakistan. Because it’s so famous outside India, people sometimes think it comes from the West.

Why Is Butter Chicken Sweet?

In contrast to most Indian curries, where the blend of onion and ginger garlic paste is used as a base cooked in oil, in this dish, we use tomato paste with other ingredients as a base and is cooked in butter, which imparts a slightly sweet flavor.

Best And Delicious!

This is the best butter chicken you will have ever made! I hope you will love this recipe. 

The best part about making this popular Indian-Pakistani dish is sharing good food with others. You can enjoy the rich flavors Immediately or let them develop for a day. 

So gather your ingredients, fill your kitchen with its lovely aroma, and enjoy the delight of homemade butter chicken!

Butter chicken in a round white dish.
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5 from 2 votes

Butter Chicken Recipe

Try this authentic Butter Chicken recipe. Juicy tender chicken in a flavorful, creamy tomato-based sauce! It can also be made in an instant pot. Serve it with naan or roti to mope up its rich and delicious sauce!
Author: Devy Dar
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Marinate20 minutes
Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Indian, Pakistani
Servings: 4 people

Equipment

  • Kitchen knife
  • Chopping board
  • Cooking pot
  • Baking tray
  • Skewers

Ingredients

For the chicken:

  • 1.3 pounds boneless skinless chicken
  • ½ salt or to taste
  • ½ lemon
  • ¾ cup natural yogurt
  • 1 small brown onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic peeled
  • ½ inch ginger peeled
  • 1 fresh chili
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon orange food coloring optional

For the masala sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste/ puree
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 ounces salted butter
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt or according to taste
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro leaves and extra for garnish.
  • 1 fresh green chili finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice. About ½ lemon
  • 1 cup single cream

Instructions

For the chicken:

  • Prepare the chicken. Add the lemon juice and salt to it. Stir well. You can pierce the poultry with a fork or a skewer. This little trick can help the chicken to absorb the flavor later.
  • Put the chopped onion, garlic, garlic, chili, garam masala, and yogurt in a food chopper or food processor. Blitz until everything is blended and you get a smooth mixture.
  • Pour the spice mixture into the chicken. Add food coloring if you use it. Mix well and leave the chicken to marinate for at least 20 minutes.
  • Arrange the chicken pieces on a baking sheet, then bake for 20 minutes in a preheated oven at 400°F/ 200°C or until the chicken is cooked through.

For the masala sauce:

  • Mix the tomato paste and a cup of water in a jug until you get a smooth tomato mixture.
  • Add the ginger,
  • Add the grated ginger, garam masala, ground cumin, salt, sugar, Kashmiri red chili powder, chopped cilantro, chopped chili, lemon juice, and cream. Mix well until all is combined and you get a smooth, creamy consistency.
  • Heat the butter in a large frying pan until it melts.
  • Pour the spicy tomato mixture over the butter and cook at medium heat as you keep stirring. Bring it to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the chicken pieces to the sauce. But don’t include the chicken juice from the roasting.
  • Simmer and stir the chicken in the sauce for 3-5 minutes or until the fat slightly separates from the edges.
  • Serve the chicken with sauce spooned over it.

Notes

  • You can use chicken with bones. But bear in mind that the cooking time will be slightly longer.
  • Ensure you don’t overcook the chicken, especially when you use boneless chicken, because it can go hard.
  • You can substitute Kashmiri red chili powder with cayenne pepper. Adjust the chili or cayenne pepper according to your liking.
  • Make your ground cumin by roasting cumin seeds in a frying pan and grinding them in an electric grinder.

Nutrition

Serving: 100grams | Calories: 622kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 37g | Fat: 46g | Saturated Fat: 27g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 223mg | Sodium: 876mg | Potassium: 1014mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1810IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 174mg | Iron: 2mg

Disclaimer

Nutritional info in this recipe is only estimate using online calculator. You should refer to it as a guide only. Please verify with your own data if you seek an accurate info.

Devy Dar

Author: Devy Dar

Title: Food Writer, Recipe Developer, and Digital Content Creator.

Bio:

Devy Dar is the founder and creator of So Yummy Recipes and Drizzling Flavor, the website where she shares traditional and non-traditional recipes from South Asia, the Far East, and beyond. An Indonesian native living in the UK, Devy has a BA in Japanese studies and language for which she studied and lived in Japan. Her encounter with various cultures and cuisines has encouraged her to help others recreate recipes from those cultures practically with daily ingredients. Her works have been featured in Reader’s Digest, Al Jazeera, MSN, Yahoo, Bon Appetit, and more. 

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