Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

Butter chicken or Murgh Makhani has been an instant hit through the years. Along with Chicken Tikka Masala this is one of the most well-known Indian dishes around the world. It originated in the 50’s at Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi. Eating butter chicken in Moti Mahal is like reading Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Marinated overnight, the chicken is then grilled and cooked in tomato puree, cashew paste and kasuri methi to give it a rich, smoky, flavorful and creamy texture. The slightly sweet and sour sauce percolates so deeply into the chicken pieces making them juicy and soft, instantly melting in your mouth. Even though this recipe requires a bit of elbow grease, the effort is well worth it and definitely a lick-your-plate dish! Do give it a try.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes plus overnight Marination
Cooking Time: 1 hour (includes grilling time for chicken)
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serve: 4-5


800 grams boneless chicken tenderloin, washed, dried and cut into 1″ pieces


1/2 cup hung curd or Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
1 tablespoon dry fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
1/4th teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4th teaspoon red chili powder
1/4th teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 lemon juiced (2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons canola oil

For Gravy

600 grams (3cups) tomatoes, pureed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1″ cinnamon stick
3 green cardamom
4 cloves
1 black cardamom
1 bay leaf
3 slit green chilies
1 teaspoon tomato paste
10 cashews, soak in warm milk for 1 hour and make a paste
1/4th teaspoon kashmiri chili powder (degi mirch)
1/4th teaspoon coriander powder
1/4th teaspoon turmeric powder
1/4th teaspoon cumin powder
2 tablespoons sugar
salt to taste
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro for garnishing

butter chickenDirections


Place the chicken pieces in a glass bowl and add all the marinade ingredients. Mix well and refrigerate for 2 hours. Overnight works best.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place chicken pieces on a baking sheet and cook in the oven till 90% cooked and little charred on the outside, about 20 minutes. You can also grill the chicken pieces using a grill pan or grill plate.


Melt 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the whole spices: cinnamon stick, green cardamom, cloves, black cardamom, bay leaves, fenugreek seeds (methi daana) and green chilies. Cook for 30 seconds.

Add tomato puree and 1 teaspoon of tomato paste. Cook for 5 minutes and add salt, Kashmiri chili powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder. Mix well, cover and cook for 15 minutes on medium high heat till the tomato sauce thickens and is reduced by one third.

Uncover the pan and add cashew paste along with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for another 15 minutes. Keep stirring the gravy at regular intervals to prevent it from burning.

Add the grilled chicken pieces along with the pan drippings to the gravy. Cook on medium low heat for 20 minutes until the chicken is cooked completely and the gravy has thickened to the desired consistency. Now add 1 tablespoon of sugar. Stir to mix well and cook for 1 minute. Check the seasonings before adding the cream. If the gravy is too sour, add little more sugar till you get the desired taste. Authentic butter chicken is sweet and sour in taste.

Now reduce the flame to low and add cream and 1 teaspoon of crushed fenugreek leaves. Turn off the heat.

Transfer the chicken to a serving dish. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve with Prantha, Chapati, Naan or Rice.

Note: Butter chicken can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed, air-tight container for up to a week.

butter chicken 3

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