Indian Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

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

½ medium white onion, diced

1 shallot, finely diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground coriander

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 cup crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup whole milk plain yogurt

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1” chunks

1 tablespoon cornstarch



Heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the peanut oil and heat through. 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 butter, lemon juice, ginger, garam masala, chili powder, cumin, coriander and the bay leaf. Let cook, stirring constantly, until spices are fragrant, for 1 minute.

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

While the sauce simmers, heat the remaining tablespoon of peanut oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and sauté until it is lightly browned on all sides. Spoon in ½ cup of the sauce and stir to coat the chicken. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the chicken is no longer pink, and is cooked through. Add the cooked chicken to the sauce, stirring to combine.

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.

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

Serves 4.

indian butter chicken
butter chicken closeup
indian butter chicken with basmati rice


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