Indian Butter chicken or Murgh Makani is a rich, creamy, spice infused sauce slathered over yogurt-coated charred chicken served with rice and Naan bread .
What is Indian Butter Chicken?
- Chicken is coated with yogurt, salt and broiled until deep brown or charred.
- A rich sauce is created with onions, peppers, garlic and ginger tomato paste, water , pureed until smooth and then finished with heavy cream and butter.
- The spice blend is a combination of black pepper, turmeric, cumin, coriander, red pepper flakes and garam masala.
- The chicken is cut up and added to the sauce and served with rice and naan bread.
Equipment required for this dish:
- Immersion Blender – Purchase my favorite HERE.
- Broiler pan
- Heavy duty aluminum foil
- Heavy bottomed saucepan
- Micro-plane for grating ginger-Purchase my favorite HERE
How to Make Indian Butter Chicken:
- Coat the chicken with salt and plain greek yogurt.
- Broil the chicken while you make the sauce. Let rest on a pan and keep warm.
- Sauté chopped onion, Serrano pepper, garlic and fresh ground ginger in butter.
- Add spices to the onion mixture and cook to “bloom” the flavors.
- Stir in water and tomato paste to the onion/spice mixture and blend until smooth with an immersion blender.
- Stir in Cream and butter to finish the sauce.
- Cut up into bite size pieces and add the broiled chicken into the sauce and let simmer for a few minutes.
- Serve with hot sticky rice and Naan bread to soak up extra sauce .
Do I need to buy a lot of exotic spices to make this recipe?
No! Below is the list of spices you need for Indian Butter Chicken. You can find these spices at every major grocery store. Add a little spice to your life this winter with this delicious and oh so simple dish from Northern India. Keep Reading…
- Turmeric– A golden hued spice that adds a slight citrus and pleasant bitter taste
- Black pepper– freshly ground pepper adds a bit of heat
- Red Pepper Flakes or Red chili pepper– adds another level of heat- I advise adding in slowly to taste.
- Garam Masala– A blend of cumin, coriander, cloves, cardamom, nutmeg and black pepper. Buy your own forth store or make up a blend to keep in your pantry. See my recipe for Garam Masala at the end of this post.
- Cumin– A smokey spice used in Latin, Middle Eastern and Indian Cooking. Use Cumin in your taco spice blend.
- Coriander- Earthy, lemony, nutty. I prefer to buy whole coriander seeds and grind myself, but ground coriander is absolutely fine to use.
Pro tip: If your spices are more than 3 months old, toss them and buy new. Always buy the smallest container of spice because, once ground and opened, the flavor intensity is diminished significantly after 3 months. Consider buying from local spice and tea shops which have the freshest inventory.
Other dishes with exotic spices to try:
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 and store in an airtight jar in a cool, dark space.
7-Spice Charred Indian Butter Chicken- Murgh Makhani
- 2 whole boneless chicken breasts or chicken thighs
- 1/2 cup full fat plain greek yogurt
- 2 tsp kosher salt, divided
- 1 Serrano pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 large onion, diced fine
- 4 tsp grated fresh 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
- 1-6oz 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
- naan bread
- 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.
I’ve always assumed cooking with Indian spices, meant roasting the spices, grinding them with my mortar and pestle, slowly cooking food in a tandoori oven or clay pot. Not at all. This dish is done using a broiler and one sauce pan.
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.
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, coriander and other warm spices, add in more cumin, coriander , chili, turmeric 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.