Murgh Makhani ~ Butter Chicken

butter chicken

This week a couple of my foodie friends posted recipes for tandoori chicken and after I had done wiping my keyboard dry, I decided to take this as a tasty segue to my recipe of butter chicken. There are many recipes for tandoori chicken and everyone has a special way they like to make it at home with the spices they like to use. Some like to grill on charcoal, some on gas and some just throw it under the broiler; I’ve done all three at one time or another.

I love tandoori chicken, especially the one that comes from a true tandoor, a big clay pot oven. However, I’ll take chicken that is thrown on a searing grill too with a charcoal fire burning underneath. Most of the flavour comes from the marinade the chicken absorbs and it is important that it gets a chance to soak in this spicy, garlicky bath.

I am not going to post my tandoori chicken today (you can find my marinade in the chicken tikka masala post) but please check out the ones posted earlier this week on Simple Gluten Free Kitchen and The Lady 8 Home, both use different spices and different cooking methods but I guarantee they both taste exquisite. After you have enjoyed a piece or two of the tandoori chicken, use the rest to make this butter chicken curry. This stuff is amazing and that is the reason why it’s so popular at restaurants.

It’s worth it to make extra tandoori chicken just to make this butter chicken (murgh is chicken and makhan is butter) or chicken tikka masala. If possible, search out the dried fenugreek leaves for that authentic butter chicken flavour. Fenugreek leaves or methi, are strong, pungent, slightly bitter leaves that South Asians thoroughly enjoy as a dried herb and as fresh greens. They are easily available in dried form at any Indian grocery store. 

kasoori methi

Now, butter chicken, as the name implies, is not a low calorie curry. There are ways to lighten it and many people do…lighten everything. I am of the thinking that I cook this once in a while but when I do, I do it the right way. This is not on our weekly dinner roster so when I do make it, I do add the cream and I do pour on the butter. I make butter chicken like twice a year. Now, if you want to make it more often then by all means lighten it or omit the fat, but I enjoy the full fat version once in a while.

butter chicken

butter chicken


Murgh Makhani ~ Butter Chicken

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Serves: 6 servings

  • 2lbs/907g tandoori chicken, diced in big chunks
Curry Base
  • 7 tomatoes, diced very finely (I used plum tomatoes)
  • 3 tomatoes, puréed
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tablespoons kasoori methi/dried fenugreek leaves
  • ½ cup/118ml cream
  • 4 tablespoon/57g butter, melted
  • 2 green chillies
  • cilantro to garnish
  • salt as needed
  1. In a large fry pan, pour in 2 tablespoons of the melted butter.
  2. Add the cardamom pods and cinnamon stick and let them release their aroma.
  3. Add the chopped tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are soft.
  4. Press with the back of the spoon to mash them and soften them, 10 minutes or so.
  5. Add the pureed tomatoes and continue to cook till the sauce begins to thicken a little.
  6. Add the kasoori methi leaves, rubbing them in your palm to break them up a little.
  7. Add the green chillies.
  8. Add the cream and simmer gently.
  9. Add the diced chicken and mix through until chicken is heated.
  10. Check for salt and add as needed.
  11. Add the remaining melted butter over the top and blend in gently.
  12. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro leaves.
The taste of the curry with fresh tomatoes is amazing. Tinned tomatoes can be used and are perfectly acceptable, but fresh tomatoes have a distinctly different taste and texture and it's worth using the fresh stuff.

butter chicken

Spring time is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate then to get the grill going and cook up some tandoori chicken. Make sure to keep some aside to rustle up this quick butter chicken.

Hope you are all having a great week and keeping warm. It’s been freezing here but I see we have some sun in our forecast this weekend. Time to thaw out a bit.

  1. Pingback: Luqaimat | Arabic Doughnuts with Orange Blossom Syrup » Coffee and Crumpets

    • Thank you! I checked yours out, it looks good. The key to butter chicken, is to keep it simple. I’ve made it more than one way but I like it best without too much added spice and with fresh tomatoes. If the chicken is already nicely spiced and has been grilled on charcoal, the butter chicken is amazing…oh and don’t forget the methi leaves.

  2. I have a pretty similar version to this too. Yours looks delightful Nazneen. I completely omit the cream as I believe it gives a tomato soup taste. I do however, add ground almonds so not exactly saving on calories!
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    • Thanks David. I add almonds too in a lot of my curries, but I like the cream in this. But you’re right, almonds add a great creaminess without cream, tahini is another one.

    • We all do that sometimes Paula! We get in this rut of cooking whats comfortable and forget what we enjoyed a while back. Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hello Nazeen, I love butter chicken and your version looks gorgeous. I also love you writing style as you marinate the chicken in a “garlic bath”. I am sure that your baking the chicken before adding it to the curry gives it another dimension of flavor. Looking forward to keeping in touch. Take Care, BAM
    Bam’s Kitchen recently posted..South African BobotieMy Profile

    • Hi Bam! Thank you for visiting and for such kind words! Ideally, the chicken should be grilled outside on a charcoal grill and that’s where the flavour comes from. However, my grill is under a pile of slushy snow so it was out of the question to fire up that thing. I look forward to seeing you around too! xx

    • Of course, but I may need it again because after reading all these wonderful bloggers with the delicious recipes they make! Thanks Amy!

    • Thanks Liz! It is incredibly popular in restaurants but it’s also really easy to make. Wishing you a great weekend also!

    • It is pretty easy if you have some tandoori chicken already made up. I hope you get to make it!

  4. This sounds wonderful, Nazneen, and looks just incredible! Love that color! I’ve not heard of butter chicken but, judging by the comments, I’m really missing out on something good. I need to rectify the situation. Thanks, Nazneen, for pointing me in the right direction.
    ChgoJohn recently posted..Grilled Salted Cod — Baccala alla GrigliaMy Profile

    • Oh yes, John! You have to try some! There’s a plethora of good Indian places in Chicago, you should be able to find something decent.

  5. You had me at ‘spicy and garlicky’! First off, love the colour of your butter chicken. Secondly, wow, I didn’t realize that it’s methi that gives butter chicken a distinguishing and authentic flavour! I love methi / fenugreek! I also steeped it in a tea or tisane when I was breastfeeding – oh you know, to improve my supply. LOL. I’m definitely bookmarking this, Nazneen!

    • Thanks Jen! I didn’t know anyone else knew about the methi and nursing thing except the South Asians! I tried taking the seeds but man, after a while that stuff seeps from your pores!

    • Thanks Sawsan. You should try it…it’s really quite easy and splurge on some fattening food!

    • I do hope the Teens like it! I am glad to hear that everyone thinks like me and are willing to go all the fat with the full fat version!

  6. Assalamvalekum, That’s an mouth watering curry….love to gulp it right now…..Nice to know about you and your blog….awesome recipes….love to visit again….kasoori methi adds really amazing flavour to this recipe…i too make it mostly the dame…

    • wa’alaikum assalam Lubna. Thank you for stopping by and for your very lovely compliment.

    • Thanks Charlie. It really makes it easy if you have leftover chicken. I really don’t like cutting up chicken and always find a way to cook chicken in big pieces!

  7. i only learnt how to make butter chicken last year and my recipe is exactly the same as yours 😀
    i don’t reduce the fat either coz the low fat version just doesn’t taste authentic! eating this with some fresh naan is just heavenly..
    cakewhiz recently posted..Snowflake cookiesMy Profile

    • Good to hear I have lots of people on my side when it comes to making a full fat version. Butter Chicken is so simple it would be foolish to make it harder by adding more ingredients!

  8. Its bad thing to read blog posts in the morning, when you are in a hurry to go out for work. Your email haven’t even reached my inbox yet but your link to my site brought me salivating to your lovely blog. You are such a darling,Nazneen!

    Gorgeous color on the butter chicken.Will check your chicken tikka post later in the evening. Sounds delicious!
    Balvinder recently posted..Chicken TandooriMy Profile

    • Thanks Balvinder! Your chicken had me salivating and I just had to make some..I took a few nibbles of it as tandoori chicken and then stuck the rest in the butter chicken. So delicious!

    • Thanks Denise! I am glad to hear your kids like tandoori chicken. It’s my kids fave too. Let me know how it turns out for you xx