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Butter Chicken


This recipe for Butter Chicken comes from India and was commissioned to compliment the earlier published article entitled Indian Cooking . . . how did it become so popular?

Butter chicken is another popular cuisine of India and Pakistan and should not be mistaken with chicken tikka.

Butter chicken was created at Moti Mahal restaurant in Dariyagunj, Delhi. It is usually served with steamed rice, naan bread, tandoori roti, rumali roti or parathas. It is believed that a chef had made this in a bit of hurry for a VIP who wanted a chicken dish. At that time he only had half a chicken tikka left so he made a curry of chicken tikka smeared in lots of butter with a thick tomato sauce. Later he improvised this dish and made it a regular part of the restaurant menu.

It is one of the most popular Indian dishes all over the world. Butter chicken can be made hot or mild. The main ingredients in butter chicken are chicken, butter, onions, tomatoes and authentic Indian spices sauce. The most important ingredient of this dish is dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi).

Ingredients for Butter Chicken

1kg chicken (skinless)
Natural yoghurt
Ginger and garlic paste
Bay leaves
Garam Masala
Red Chilli Powder
Cumin powder
Fresh Coriander
Cooking Oil
Tomatoes (chopped and blended)
Juice of 1 lime
Kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
Chicken stock

How to make Butter Chicken

  • Wash and cut the chicken into cubes.
  • Rub the salt, red chilli powder and lime juice over the chicken and leave to marinate for 1 hour.
  • On a hot griddle roast the almonds, peppercorn, cinnamon, bay leaves and cloves until they turn brown. Cool the mixture, add the cardamoms and grind into a fine powder.
  • Mix the above ground spices with the yoghurt, add the chicken and mix well. Leave to marinate for another hour.
  • Heat some oil and butter in a heavy pan and add the finely chopped onions. When the onion has browned, add crushed ginger and garlic paste and cook for a couple of minutes until the raw smell of the ginger and garlic disappears.
  • Add the pieces of chicken only from the yoghurt mixture and fry until they change colour from pink to a wheatish colour.
  • Add the chopped and blended tomatoes, kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), garam masala, turmeric, cumin powder, chicken stock and the yoghurt mixture.
  • Cook over a low to medium heat until the sauce thickens and the chicken is fully cooked.
  • In another pan melt the butter and pour this over the chicken and take the pan off the heat.
  • Garnish with fresh coriander.
  • Serve with naan, tandoori roti or jeera rice. This dish goes well with kaali daal.

No need to say that this is a rich curry, and has lots of calories. But if you love food, you can’t count calories. I would advise you to eat well and join a gym too!

Serves 4

"Just a comment about the quantity of ingredients in this series of recipes, I would say that most people add in different amounts according to how they like it. Recipes are either normally passed on or people learn by experimenting with different amounts of spices until they get the taste they like, for example, I know I put different amounts of thngs into curries than my family and friends do, everyone does tend to work out how much they like."

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Harpreet Virdee



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