Indian Butter Chicken- Murgh Makhani

I first sampled Indian Butter Chicken in Seattle and have looked for a simple way to make this dish at home. I recently came across a recipe, which I modified for the home cook, with ingredients easily gathered at your local grocery store.

Over the past several years, I have grown to adore Indian food. In the early days of my blog, I created my first curry with chick peas and shrimp. I love that dish and the smells and flavors that come from my kitchen when cooking with these exotic Indian spices, which thankfully, are now abundant in local stores.

Jump to Recipe
Serrano peppers are preferred but this Hungarian pepper worked beautifully

I’ve always assumed cooking with Indian spices, meant roasting the spices, grinding them with my mortar and pestle, slowly cooking food in a tandori oven or clay pot. Not at all. This dish is done using a broiler and one sauce pan.

Garam Masala, Cumin, Corriander and Black pepper make this dish rich in flavor- see my recipe below for homemade garam masala if your store does not carry it

The sauce is made with onions, loads of freshly grated ginger, garlic, tomato paste and water. Season the sauce with garam masala- just a blend of cumin, corriander and other warm spices, add in more cumin, corriander , chili, tumeric and lots of black pepper. A serrano or Hungarian pepper adds a bit of heat. Simmer over low heat and add broiled chicken that is marinated with just plain Greek yogurt and salt. The chicken becomes tender and succulent. The sauce is silky and even better spilling into a pile of Basmati rice or sopped up with toasty Naan Bread.

Sauté the onion adn garlic slowly over low heat

Add a little spice to your life this winter with this delicious and oh so simple dish from Northern India.

Add in the ginger and pepper

Ingredients- serves 4

  • 2 whole chicken breasts or chicken thighs

  • 1/2 cup plain greek yogurt

  • 2 tsp kosher salt, divided

  • 1 Serrano pepper, seeded and diced

  • 1 large onion, diced fine

  • 4 tsp grated ginger

  • 5 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1 TBSP Garam Masala

  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

  • 1 1/2 tsp coriander

  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder or red pepper flakes- add slowly to taste

  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric

  • 3/4 tsp ground black pepper

  • 1 small can tomato paste

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 1/4- 1/2 cup heavy cream

  • 4 TBSP butter or Ghee, divided

  • chopped cilantro

  • cooked basmati rice

  • toasted Naan Bread

Method: Prep time 15 minutes, cooking time 45 minutes

  • Pre heat oven to broil.
    Line a rimmed sheet pan with heavy foil.

    In a medium sized bowl, marinate the chicken in the greek yougrt and 1 tsp of salt for 15 minutes. Place chicken on the sheet pan and broil for 15 minutes until charred . Flip chicken and broil another 6-8 minutes until internal tempertaure reaches 165 degrees. Cover the chicken to rest. After 5 minutes, slice into bite size chunks and set aside.
  • While chicken is baking, in a large sauce pan, melt 2 TBSP of butter or Ghee. Add in the onions and garlic and sauté for 7-8 minutes until translucent and fragrant. Add in the ginger and peppers and sauté another 5 minutes on low heat.
    To the onion mixture, add in the garam masala, cumin, corriander, red chili powder, turmeric, pepper and remaining salt. Cook the spices to bloom their flavors for about 1-2 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato paste to the onion and spice mixture and, stirring constantly ,cook throughly for 2 minutes on low heat. Pour in the water. Let sauce simmer on low heat for 10 minutes until thickened.
    Using an immersion blender, puree the sauce until smooth. You can also pour the sauce into a blender and process it- be careful to cover the lid of theh blender with a towel so the sauce does not explode all over your kitchen. Pour in the cream and remaining 2 TBSP of butter and add in the chicken. Simmer for 10 more minutes.
  • Serve over hot rice and, if desired, garnish with cilantro.
  • You can make the sauce a day ahead (do not add the cream or remaining butter) and chill in the fridge. Re-heat on low, once warm, add in the cream, butter and chicken. Simmer another 10 minutes.
Water and tomato paste round out the complex sauce
A spalsh of cream makes this sauce silky, not oily

Tools to make this dish:

An Immersion blender makes quick work of the sauce. See my favorite HERE

Use an immersion belnder to make the sauce silky smooth- or not.

Other dishes with exotic spices to try:

Masala Chai Latte

Forbidden Rice & Vegetable Bowl

20 Minute Spicy Shrimp & Soba Noodles

Citrus- Cardamom Spice Muffins

Broiled chicken goes in the sauce. Serve over rice- done.

Homemade Garam Masala:

1 TBSP Cumin

1 1/2 tsp Coriander

1 1/2 tsp Cardamom

1 1/2 tsp Ground black pepper- freshly ground

1/2 tsp Ground cloves

1/2 tsp Freshly ground nutmeg

Combine all the ingredients nad store in an airtight jar. Store in a cool, dark area.

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