Butter chicken recipe – Learn how to make butter chicken at home with the help of these step by step photos. Punjabi murgh makhani known as Indian butter chicken has gained much popularity across the globe. Paired with naan or kulcha is a delight which most Indians love during their restaurant visits. I have made this countless number of times since kids have a special liking towards it as it is not very hot and spicy like the typical South Indian chicken curry.
What is Butter chicken?
Chunks of grilled chicken (tandoori chicken) cooked in a smooth buttery & creamy tomato based gravy is known as Butter chicken or murgh makhani. It was invented by Kundan lal Gujral, who was the owner of a popular restaurant named Moti Mahal in Delhi. The restaurant which had large orders of tandoori chicken throughout the day would typically end up with lot of leftovers which were turned into this amazing rich gravy the next day.
To make an authentic butter chicken recipe, we need to grill the chicken either in a pan, tandoor or oven first and then cook it up in the rich gravy. The recipe shared in this post is an authentic one, except grilling in tandoor. Not every one of us would be able to grill chicken in a tandoor or in a oven, so for this post I have done it in a pan. If possible you can follow the dungar method to smoke the chicken once it is roasted on a pan.
You may also like to check these Easy chicken butter masala
Butter chicken recipe card
Butter chicken recipe | Indian butter chicken recipe | Murgh makhani recipe
- 450 grams to ½ kg chicken (or 1 lb.) (bone-in or boneless)
- ¾ tbsp. lemon juice
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- ½ tsp. Red chili powder or paprika
- ¾ tsp. kasuri methi crushed or powdered dried fenugreek leaves
- 1/8 tsp. ground turmeric
- ½ to ¾ tsp. garam masala powder
- ¾ tbsp. oil
- 1 tbsp. ginger garlic paste
- ½ cup thick curd or hung yogurt (or greek yogurt, refer notes)
Makhani masala (gravy)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tsp. ginger garlic paste
- One thin 2 inch cinnamon stick (or dalchini)
- 2 green cardamoms (or elaichi)
- 2 cloves (or laung)
- Generous pinch of methi powder (fenugreek seeds powder)(optional)
- 1 to 2 green chilies slit
- 4 large tomatoes (pureed in the blender and filtered to remove skin and seeds) or tinned puree as needed
- 1 tsp red chili powder or paprika (adjust to suit your taste and color)
- 10 cashew nuts or blanched soaked almonds (refer notes)
- ½ to ¾ tsp. garam masala powder
- ½ tbsp. kasuri methi crushed or powdered dried fenugreek leaves
- ¼ tbsp. sugar
- salt as needed
- 80 to 100 ml chilled cream (refer the notes)
- Coriander leaves for garnishing
- Please follow the preparation work mentioned below before the step by step instructions. Wash chicken under running water and pat dry. Marinate with lemon juice, chili powder and salt for 20 minutes.
- Marinate chicken from step 1 with yogurt, kasuri methi, oil, turmeric, ginger garlic paste, and garam masala powder. Refrigerate for at least 3 to 4 hours, overnight works best.
- Grill the chicken in an oven or stove top. For stove top method, Add one tsp. butter and add the marinade. Fry on high flame till all the moisture evaporates. Keep stirring constantly to prevent burning. Cook till it is cooked. Transfer this to a plate and set aside. To grill it in oven, preheat the oven to 240 C for atleast 20 mins. Grill it until the meat is cooked well. It may take about 20 to 30 mins depending on the size of your chicken chunks.
Making butter chicken
- Heat a pan with butter, add dry spices and fry for a min or two. Add ginger garlic paste, green chilies and fry till it turns fragrant.
- To the pan, add the tomato puree, red chili powder, sugar and salt. Mix and cook until the tomato puree becomes thick and begins to leave the sides of the pan
- Pour 1 cup water and add methi powder, cashew or almond paste or almond milk. Adjust the water to suit your desired consistency
- Bring the mix to a boil and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. Add kasuri methi and garam masala now, or add at a later step for the best aroma
- Add chicken and simmer for about 5 to 7 minutes till it becomes soft and tender.
- Add garam masala, kasuri methi. Stir and simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes. Pour chilled cream and switch off the stove.
- Garnish punjabi murgh makhani with coriander leaves and extra cream if desired.
If you do not have almonds, you could use 10 cashew nuts or 1 ½ tbsp. magaz seeds
cream: If you don’t want to use heavy cream, you can go ahead using nestle thick cream that is used for deserts, but do not cook for long after you add to the gravy. Chill the cream and add it to the gravy and switch off the stove otherwise the gravy could look curdled.or Take a small amount of hot gravy and add it to the cream and stir well. Then add the cream to the pan. This also helps to prevent curdling the cream.
Recently, I got obsessed with Soma’s murgh makhani which literally drove me to make this. Hubby became a fan of this and began to appreciate the flavors a lot. Since then I made it countless number of times & felt I should not miss sharing it here. I followed her butter chicken recipe exactly & found that it tasted great with unique good flavours.
For more chicken curry recipes, you can also check this collection of top 10 chicken curry recipes
Preparation to make ahead
You can make these on the previous day if you feel the butter chicken recipe is elaborate. I made it on the same day:
1. Marinate the chicken and refrigerate.
2. Make the Punjabi garam masala powder or decide on a good garam masala.
3. Puree the tomatoes in a blender and filter through a colander to remove the skin and seeds and refrigerate.
4. Make a smooth paste of the almonds (or cashew nuts or magaz seeds). If you do not own a powerful blender then soak the almonds or cashews for 1 to 2 hours. Blend them to a really very smooth paste.
5. The color of your gravy may differ based on your red chili powder. You may want to arrange for a good chili powder that is less hot like kashmiri chilli powder.
How to make Indian butter chicken recipe
1. Marinating chicken helps to make it soft and tasty. Wash chicken and pat it dry. Make sure there is no excess water in the chicken. Marinate with lemon juice, chili powder and salt.
2. Set this aside for 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Go ahead with the second marination. Marinate with fresh yogurt, ginger garlic paste, crushed kasuri methi, oil, turmeric and garam masala.
4. Marinate and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes. 3 hours is better but overnight does wonders. The longer it is marinated, the meat turns softer and just melts in the mouth. Do not use sour yogurt/ curd.
5. Grill the chicken in the oven or stove top. For grilling in oven, preheat the oven to 240 C for at least 15 minutes. Skew the chicken on to soaked wooden skewers or place on a greased tray and grill for 20 to 30 minutes. In between you will have to flip to the undone side.
6. If grilling chicken on tawa. Add one tsp. butter and fry on high. Moisture begins to ooze out, this is very common. Keep stirring don’t burn and do not over cook.
7. Cook till the chicken is just done and all the moisture evaporates. Set this aside. You can even saute till the chunks turn lightly golden.
8. Heat butter in a pan, add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Saute for a min or two. Add ginger garlic paste, green chilies and fry for 2 to 3 minutes till the raw smell goes off. (I did not use green chilies since my kids still cannot tolerate the heat.)
9. Pour the tomato puree. Add red chili powder, sugar and salt.
10. Mix and cook till the tomato puree becomes thick and begins to leave the sides.
11. Pour 1 cup water and add methi powder, almond paste (it’s supposed to be almond paste, but became almond milk while blending).Let it come to a boil and then simmer for 3 to 5 minutes. You can add kasuri methi and garam masala now, but I prefer to add at a later step for the best aroma.
12. Add chicken and simmer for about 5 to 7 minutes till it becomes tender. (The cook time may vary depending on how tender your meat is). I check with a fork, the piece just breaks upon piercing. Check the salt and spice. Adjust as needed.
13. Add garam masala and crushed kasuri methi . You can adjust the consistency by adding more water if the gravy is very thick. Mix well and simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes. Then add chilled cream. Switch off the stove. or take a small portion of hot gravy and add it to the cream first and then pour the cream to the curry. This prevents cream from curdling. Take care not to cook longer after adding cream.
Garnish butter chicken with cream and coriander leaves.