Indian Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani)


Kelly Rossiter Photo
Kelly Rossiter

Difficulty Level Easy

I had a family crisis this fall, so I was out of the house a lot and my husband had to fend for himself for dinner. I felt guilty about it, but as it turns out he was happy to go to a local Indian restaurant and feed his obsession with their butter chicken. Whenever I suggested that we could try something else from the menu, he would just look at me as though we'd never met. Once things settled down and I was home more often, I realized that I better learn how to make butter chicken or face bankruptcy.

It turns out that it's pretty easy to make. I have come across many, many recipes for butter chicken and I think I'll have to experiment a bit to find the one that most closely approximates my husband's favourite. This recipe is pretty close, but the sauce isn't the right consistency yet. I'll have to keep working on that. I took this dish to an Indian themed dinner party last night and everybody loved it.

Don't be alarmed by the huge list of ingredients. Like most Indian recipes there are lots of spices here, but there isn't that much to the rest of the recipe. This isn't a recipe to make when you get home from work because the chicken marinates over night and the sauce cooks for an hour, but it improves the next day, so make it on the weekend and have dinner mostly ready when you get home. Just add some basmati rice and some naan and some vegetable that is good with a sauce such as cauliflower. This makes a lot, so you can get a few meals out of it, or feed a crowd. The recipe calls for heavy cream, but I used light cream and it was fine.


Spice Mix:
4 tsp garam masala
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp turmeric
½ teaspoon fenugreek
½ c plain low fat yogurt
2 TB lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, grated
5 tsp Spice Mix
1 ½ pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
2 TB olive oil
2 medium-large onions, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
4 cloves garlic, grated
1 TB fresh grated ginger
5 tsp Spice Mix
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp hot sauce
2 large tomatoes, chopped
4 oz tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock, or water
1 bay leaf
¾ cup heavy cream
4 TB butter


  1. Combine all ingredients for the Spice Mix. Combine all ingredients for the chicken and allow it to marinade in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. In a large pan with a lid, heat the olive oil over medium heat; add the onion and jalapeno and sauté for 5-10 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally until slightly softened. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another 30 seconds to a minute, then add the Spice Mix and lemon juice and sauté for another 30 seconds. Add the hot sauce and tomatoes and sauté for another 5 minutes then add the tomato paste and stock. Cover the pan and let the gravy simmer gently for an hour. Using an immersion blender or a blender, blend until the sauce is smooth.
  3. When the gravy is done, saute the chicken in a skillet for a couple of minutes, until there is no pink showing. Transfer chicken to the sauce and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through. Stir in the cream. Add the butter and let it melt in, then shut off the heat.

    Adapted from the website Thought4Food

This recipe appears in: Middle Eastern
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