Indian Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) recipe from cooking with cocktail rings


This is a simplified version of the traditional recipe but it is no less delicious. There is a reason butter chicken is one of the most popular Indian dishes around. In India butter chicken, or Murgh Makhani, is typically served with the bone in the chicken and cooked in a tandoor while in the United States it is usually served off the bone. The sauce is thick, creamy and rich; I always serve the dish with a side of naan bread to dip in the extra sauce. This is one of those meals where I can’t help but go back for seconds; you can usually find me walking back and forth between the kitchen to take a few "taste tests" while it cooks. 



3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” chunks

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

½ medium white onion, diced

1 shallot, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced ginger

2 teaspoons garam masala

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup crushed tomatoes

¼ cup heavy cream

1 cup whole milk plain yogurt

2 teaspoons cornstarch

Kosher salt, as needed



Heat a large heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, add the peanut oil and heat through. Add the chicken and sauté until it is lightly browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.

Add the butter and allow to melt then add the shallot and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and shallots are soft and translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic turns golden brown, about an additional 30 seconds. Stir in the lemon juice, ginger, garam masala, cumin, coriander, chili powder and the bay leaf. Let cook, stirring constantly, until spices are fragrant but not burnt, about 1 minute.

Add the tomato paste and crushed tomatoes, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the heavy cream and yogurt. Let simmer until the liquid has reduced by about a third and the chicken has completely cooked through, about 10 minutes. 

In a small jar or container, combine the cornstarch and ¼ cup of cold water. Shake or whisk to mix, then slowly whisk mixture into the sauce. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce has thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt.

To serve: Serve hot with a side of basmati rice and naan bread.


Serves 4.

*Note: This recipe was updated on 6/26/19 to be made in one pot rather than cooking the chicken separately. The spices have also been doubled to add more flavor. Thank you for your comments and feedback on recipes - you help me to make the best recipes I can!



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