Finger Lickin’ Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)
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Delicious restaurant-style butter chicken made right at home with simple ingredients. This recipe is exactly how they make butter chicken in restaurants — and I’ve had people tell me it’s actually better! Trust me when I say it’s finger-lickin’ good!
Doin’ a little throwback Monday right here with some Indian food.
Last week I had this crazy intense
craving need for creamy and spicy homemade butter chicken. I mean, it was so crazy that I could practically taste the butter chicken in my mouth. My heart started racing, my hands started shaking — okay, it wasn’t quite that dramatic but you kind of get the idea. I dug down deep into the LSJ files (this is actually one of the first recipes I ever posted on the blog!) It was time to retake some of the pictures and reintroduce you to my finger-lickin’ butter chicken recipe.
Not only am I replacing some of my old (and not so great) photography, I also reworked the recipe to make the ingredient list a little shorter without compromising any of the flavors. I made the instructions a little more easy to follow AND AND AND I am adding in tips, like, how to make some of the components ahead of time and just general advice on how to make this the best butter chicken you’ve ever had.
So about that BUTTER chicken. Ironically enough my butter chicken recipe doesn’t contain that much butter. And I used what’s called ghee (also known as clarified butter). If you’re wondering where in the heck you are going to find that, try Trader Joes or Whole Foods or here. Or if you prefer to use regular butter, I suggest you use a mix – ½ butter + ½ oil because butter can burn super easy.
This recipe is super simple. No need for you to grab whole spices and grind them up. I skip them and replace it with tandoori masala. Just follow the step by step directions, and you’ve got creamy butter chicken right at home that’s better than your favorite Indian take-out. It’s a combination of spices all blended together and it’s perfect for this restaurant-style butter chicken. It’s usually available in powder/paste form in the international aisle. The one I use and LOVE can be found here.
I can’t say I take all the credit for this recipe. I got the recipe from my mom, who got it from her sister, who used to work at an Indian restaurant once upon a time. So there. It’s authentic, restaurant-style butter chicken, for reals. <– Just tweaked a bit to make it easier for us everyday people, like you and me, without compromising flavor!
It’s all about that sauce when it comes to an authentic butter chicken recipe. No really. Like with most curries, this butter chicken actually tastes better with time. If you’ve got your life together, and you’re one of those people that recipe plan and prep food ahead (first of all, power to you!) then this butter chicken can be even better for you. Make the gravy portion of this recipe, blend it and allow it to cool completely before popping it in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours. Let those flavors really get together.
You can also marinate the chicken in the ginger, garlic, yogurt, and tandoori masala and let it sit for 12-24 hours, covered in the refrigerator. The yogurt, ginger, and garlic really help make the chicken more tender. As always, I’m a fan of white meat chicken, so I used boneless skinless chicken breasts, but you could go the dark meat route and use chicken thighs as well. Some may even tell you it’s more flavorful that way, I’m not one of those people though. ???
Also, with a little weekend prep work, this recipe can be made weeknight friendly. Just make the sauce (and freeze it beforehand) and marinate the chicken on Sunday and pull it together in about 20 minutes on a Monday. That’s faster than ordering take-out and trust me, it tastes better too.
This is kind of a big deal for me. I usually leave the Indian food to mom or the Indian restaurants. But if there’s any recipe that’s worth making at home, it’s butter chicken. AM I RIGHT? I could eat this all week long. And yes, I’m going to say with confidence that this is the BEST butter chicken recipe you’ll ever make. A big thank you to all those that have tried it/loved it/commented/added it to your dinner rotations. <– Let me make the directions a little more clear and the recipe a little easier to follow for you!
Butter chicken, it’s what my dreams are made of.
Original recipe posted Dec. 20, 2013. Updated on Feb 22, 2016, with new pictures, minor recipe adjustments, and easy to follow directions.
shop my butter chicken post:
- 1 lb. boneless chicken breast, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes (see notes)
- 2 tablespoons tandoori masala (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon EACH: ginger paste and garlic paste (I used Gourmet Garden)
- ½ cup yogurt
- 1 tablespoon oil
Butter Chicken Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) (see note)
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- 1 ½ teaspoon EACH: ginger paste and garlic paste (I used Gourmet Garden)
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon chili powder (see notes)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
- ¼ teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (crushed between fingers)
- In a medium bowl, combine the tandoori masala, ginger, garlic, and yogurt. Whisk until smooth, adjust seasonings to preference. Add the chicken and allow to marinate for at least 20 minutes and ideally for 12-24 hours, covered in the refrigerator.
Butter Chicken Sauce:
- Heat the ghee in a dutch oven or heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until they turn translucent and start to sweat, about 5-7 minutes, don't allow the onions to brown. Add ginger and garlic paste and let cook for 30 seconds, stirring so it doesn't burn. Add the can of crushed tomatoes along with the chili powder, coriander powder, and cumin powder and continue to cook for 5 minutes, if the mixture starts bubbling rapidly, add about ¼ cup of water and continue to cook.
- Remove from heat, add the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth, you may need to add a couple water to help it blend (up to ¼ cup). Depending on how powerful your blender is, you may want to blend the mixture in two batches. Remember to hold the lid of the blender down with a kitchen towel when blending, to avoid accidents.
- MAKE AHEAD OPTION: At this point you can cool and refrigerate the sauce for 24-48 hours (or freeze it for up to 3 months), it will help blend the flavors even more, just remember to bring the sauce back to room temperature (use the microwave) before proceeding with the recipe OR you can continue on with the recipe immediately.
- Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the dutch oven over medium heat. Add the marinated chicken (discard any excess marinade) and cook for about 5-6 minutes, stirring as required to brown all sides. Add the butter chicken sauce to the pot and heat everything through. Once it starts to bubble, add the cream and garam masala. When the sauce regains a simmer, add the crushed fenugreek leaves. Serve over basmati rice or with naan.
- Fan of dark meat chicken? You can replace the cubed chicken breasts with cubed boneless, skinless chicken thighs for more added flavor.
- GHEE: If you can't find it you replace it with 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil.
- TANDOORI MASALA: is available in powder/ paste form. I prefer the powder but some of my readers recommended Patak's brand tandoori paste. You'll need about 2-4 tablespoons of the paste (to preference).
- CHILI POWDER: optional! If you prefer milder food, you may want to leave it out as the tandoori masala already has heat. Traditionally, a spicy pepper similar to cayenne is used. If you can't find Indian or Pakistani chili powder (usually sold at Indian stores), replace it with cayenne. 1 teaspoon can be a lot so if you prefer a milder flavor, replace with 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon.
IS THIS A GOOD CHOICE FOR YOU?
*Please note: the nutritional facts calculated are an estimate based on the ingredients i’ve used. If you’d like a more accurate count, please calculate them using the ingredients/brands you’ve used to prepare the recipe. The nutritional information provided is for 1/5th of the butter chicken recipe. This does not include naan or basmati rice.
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