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Butter Chicken

Manjiri Chitnis
Incredibly easy Butter Chicken recipe for a delicious chicken in a creamy and flavourful yet mild gravy sauce
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Marination and resting time 8 hrs
Total Time 8 hrs 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 2 People


  • Mixer / Blender
  • Heavy Bottomed Pan
  • Griddle pan/oven and skewers


Round one of margination -Overnight margination of chicken/ or six hours before cooking

  • 450 grams Boneless chicken – personally, I prefer chicken thighs

  • 2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder (check notes below – I make mine fresh)
  • 2 tbsp Freshly ground ginger & garlic paste
  • 1 heaped tbsp Garam masala
  • 1.5 tbsp Freshly squeezed tbsp lime juice
  • Salt as per taste

Mix for round two of marination

  • 2 tbsp Cooking oil – ideally mustard oil

  • 4 heaped tbsp Hung curd (check notes below) – approx 1 cup
  • 1.5 tbsp Lime juice

Ingredients for the curry

  • 2 tbsp Unsalted butter

  • 1 tsp Oil
  • 350 grams Chopped tinned tomato– or 3 to 3.5 medium fresh ripe tomatoes
  • 1 medium-sized Red onion
  • 1 - 2 Green chillies
  • 1-2 Bay leaves
  • 1/2 thumb-sized Stick of Cinnamon (ideally cassia bark)
  • 1/2 thumb-sized Piece of Fresh ginger
  • 6 - 7 Cloves of Garlic with skin on
  • 2 Peppercorns
  • 4 Cloves
  • 1 Badi Elaichi /Black cardamom
  • 4 Elaichi/green cardamoms
  • 6 Cashew nuts
  • 6 Almonds without skin
  • 1 tsp Kasuri Methi
  • 1 tsp Sugar
  • Water as required
  • Salt to taste
  • 1.5 tsp Fresh cream or Thick Greek yoghurt
  • Handful Fresh Coriander leaves finely chopped to garnish


  • Wash the chicken pieces and set aside in a bowl
  • Make small cuts in the chicken to allow the marinade to penetrate thoroughly
  • I prefer an overnight margination for the first stage as it makes the flavours shine through, you can do it about 6 hours before cooking as there are two stages to marination
  • Mix all the ingredients from the overnight margination list above and coat the chicken pieces thoroughly, place in the refrigerator overnight
  • The reason hung curd is used is to as to ensure that no extra water gets into the gravy and the gravy has a beautifully creamy consistency
  • Use a muslin cloth to hand the curd for about 2 hours
  • Place the dahi /curd/ Indian set yoghurt in a fine muslin cloth and twist the ends to close the muslin and made a big potli/ parcel
  • Once all the water from the yoghurt collects in the vessel below, it isokay to remove it from the muslin *Check notes
  • Beat the hung yoghurt with a fork and then pour onto the chicken, add the lime juice and mix well, then add the oil
  • Now put the chicken back into the refrigerator for at least four hours
  • About 4 hours before making the chicken remove from the refrigerator and let is sit outside for about 45 minutes (during winter, during summer – depending upon the room temperature let it sit out for at least 20 minutes)
  • Let the chicken rest outside at room temperature while you make the gravy
  • Soak the almonds in lukewarm water for 10 minutes, the skin will come off easily
  • In a heavy bottomed pan heat the oil and then add the butter , follow this up with the green chillies, crushed ginger , crushed garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, black cardamom, green cardamom pods opened
  • Sauté well till all the whole spices are lightly fried , releasing all their gorgeous aromatic flavours
  • Now add in the whole cashews and whole almonds, stir and sauté
  • Then add the finely chopped onion and cook until they turn a light brown colour
  • Follow this up with the chopped tomato from a tin or concentrated tomato puree. Dilute the concentrated paste before adding. Read my notes below for tips.
  • Let this simmer for under 2 minutes, then transfer to a ceramic bowl and cool
  • String the chicken pieces through a skewer, spray some oil and cook them in a pre-heated oven at 200 degree Celsius until almost done. Turn the pieces so both sides get grilled equally
  • Alternatively, use a heavy bottom griddle pan and cook on either side till you see juices releasing
  • The best way to cook the chicken is over hot coal on a BBQ, which imparts a beautiful smoky flavour note to the chicken
  • Remove the chicken from the skewers and using a scissor cut them down to smaller chunks
  • Now blend the gravy using a blender – blend until you get a smooth consistency. Read my pro-tipbelow for this step – it can make or break your dish
  • In the same pan used to sauté the gravy, add the smooth gravy from the blender, if you want you can add an additional dollop of butter before adding the gravy
  • Now stir in the chicken pieces and mix well
  • Then add in the kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves, sugar and salt as per taste and cook on a very low heat setting until done. Cover and cook
  • When the chicken has cooked through transfer to a serving bowl
  • Garnish with fresh cream, some chopped coriander leaves, some kasuri methi/ dried fenugreek leaves and serve hot
  • Serve with a side of buttery garlic naans, or plain tandoor roti’s or steamed basmati rice or simply plain naan
  • Whatever you choose to pair it with remember to add a blob of butter on top for that added decadence
Keyword Butter Chicken