Skip to Content

Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani

Butter Chicken AKA Murgh Makhani is a modern classic Indian curry that serves marinated and grilled chicken in a spicy rich tomato sauce.

The chicken is at its best when marinated for at least 4 hours, but cooking this recipe from scratch takes under an hour.

Rich and creamy Indian butter chicken curry or murgh makhani.

Indian Murgh Makhani Curry

Butter chicken has become a bit of a global sensation much like its very similar British cousin, Chicken Tikka Masala.

Both recipes hail from roughly the same time, the 1960’s/70’s and traditionally both feature “leftover” or pre-cooked chicken.

Despite the names being modern, the technique is a classic Amritsari technique.

The recipe has become many things to many people!

My version stays with the idea of a Tandoori style marinated chicken that is cooked under the grill, much like my chicken tikka kebabs.

True to all of my recipes this is made to be as good as I can make it. No shortcuts, no skipping bits this is my BEST butter chicken recipe, not an approximation of it.

It is a halfway house between the traditional Indian roots of the recipe and the recipe that the rest of the world turned it into.

The most important part of this recipe is the chicken, this is where the flavour is based.

So make sure that you do not skimp on that marinade time!

It is then gently finished off in a butter and cream-rich spiced tomato sauce.

If you want something equally indulgent but are feeding vegetarians then you must try my shahi paneer recipe.

Overhead close-up rich and creamy Indian butter chicken curry or murgh makhani.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Amchoor?

Most of the spices in this butter chicken recipe should be familiar to anyone who has cooked a curry from scratch before with maybe the exception of amchoor.

It is also known as mango powder and it is made from green underripe mangoes. It adds a wonderful earthy sourness to the grilled chicken.

Can I fry the chicken rather than grilling it?

Yes, although I think that cooking it under the grill or broiler is as close as you can get to a tandoor at home.

But pop them into a heavy-based pan or griddle pan and get a nice colour.

Just like under the grill you need not worry about cooking the chicken all of the way through because they will finish cooking in the sauce.

Can I cook the chicken in the sauce?

You could, but this would stew the chicken and you would miss out on the wonderful flavour of grilled chicken.

Can I cook this in advance?

In theory yes, although I think that butter chicken is best served fresh, because the nuts in the sauce continue to thicken the dish when it is reheated.

The best way to prepare this in advance is to make the sauce through to stage 10 in my instructions, then chill and refrigerate it. It will be fine for 2-3 days.

The chicken can be made and cooked in advance, but make sure that you cook it all of the way through. This will be fine in the fridge for a couple of days.

To bring it all together heat the sauce, then add the cashew nut water, and the cream, then cook until it just starts to thicken. Finally, throw in the chicken and just heat it through.

Close-up rich and creamy Indian butter chicken curry or murgh makhani.

Serving Suggestions

As in so many of my curry recipes, my choice of side is always a naan bread for butter chicken.

They are perfect for mopping up that thick and heavy sauce, but if you are a chapati or roti kinda person, don’t work I have recipes for those too.

Rice is always a fantastic option as a side for curry. I usually opt for plain rice but a good pilau rice is a classic option.

Potatoes are also a nice option and I have roasted Bombay potatoes and aloo methi recipes that fit the bill.

Finally, if you want to go all in on the curry house experience, don’t forget the poppadoms, kachumber salad and mint raita.

Overhead rich and creamy Indian butter chicken curry or murgh makhani served with naan bread.

Equipment Used

I only name-check brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But, if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Hob or stovetop.
  • Grill (broiler).
  • 30cm or 12″ frying pan.
  • Grill tray.
  • Tin foil.
  • Skewers. I prefer to use bamboo skewers with a square profile.
  • Mini blender.
  • Fine mesh sieve.
  • Kitchen knife.
  • Chopping board.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
Indian butter chicken curry or murgh makhani with fresh coriander.
Yield: 2 Servings

Indian Butter Chicken Curry Recipe (Murgh Makhani)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Marinade Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 55 minutes

Butter chicken or Murgh Makhani is the classic Indian recipe featuring grilled chicken in a rich tomato sauce, thickened with nuts and enriched with butter and cream.


  • 2 (400-450g Total) Skinless Chicken Breasts

For the Marinade:

  • 1 Tsp Lemon Juice
  • 2 Tbsp Natural Yoghurt
  • ¼ Tsp Salt
  • 2 Tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder
  • ½ Tsp Ground Turmeric
  • ½ Tsp Ground Cumin
  • ½ Tsp Amchoor

For the Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp Cooking Oil
  • 6 Garlic Cloves
  • 35g (Thumb Sized Piece) Ginger
  • 10cm (4") Piece Cinnamon Bark
  • 4 Cloves
  • 4 Cardamom Pods
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 Dried Chilli Peppers
  • 250g (1 Cup) Tomato Passata
  • 1 Tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder
  • ½ Tbsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves
  • ½ Tsp Sugar
  • 75g (5 Tbsp) Unsalted Butter
  • ¼ Tsp Salt
  • 15g (2 Tbsp) Cashew Nuts
  • 50ml (3 Tbsp + 1 Tsp) Hot Water
  • 75ml (⅓ Cup) Double Cream (Heavy Cream in the US)


  1. Cut the chicken breasts into 5-7 pieces.
  2. Mix the ingredients for the marinade in a mixing bowl, then add the chicken, mix well, cover and then place in the fridge for 4-8 hours.
  3. About 40 minutes before you are ready to serve, peel and roughly chop the ginger.
  4. Bash the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and then peel them.
  5. Heat the oil in a 30cm or 12" frying pan and add the garlic and ginger. and fry over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes, or until the garlic begins to go golden at the edges.
  6. Crack the cardamom pods with the side of a knife and add them to the pan with the cinnamon bark, cloves, bay leaf and dried chillies, then stir to coat in the oil.
  7. Pour in the tomato passata, reduce the heat to low and allow to steep for 20 minutes.
  8. Preheat your grill or broiler as hot as it will go.
  9. Thread the chicken onto skewers and place them under the grill for around 10-12 minutes (flipping halfway through). The aim is to get some colour all over and you do not need to worry about cooking it all the way through because we have another 5-10 minutes of cooking time.
  10. When the sauce has had 20 minutes strain it through a fine mesh sieve into the marinade bowl, then stir to combine and leftover marinade into the sauce and return it to the pan.
  11. Add the sugar, Kashmiri chilli powder, dried fenugreek leaves, butter and salt to the sauce and bring to a simmer.
  12. Add the grilled chicken to the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
  13. Blend the cashew nuts with the hot water and add this to the pan along with the cream, stir until thickened.
  14. Serve with more cream and some freshly chopped coriander leaves.


If you are using bamboo skewers be sure to soak them in water for around 30 minutes before using them.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 981Total Fat: 65gSaturated Fat: 32gTrans Fat: 2gUnsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 315mgSodium: 1780mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 7gSugar: 8gProtein: 77g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!


Monday 23rd of April 2018

Excellent recipe. I made this last night. We didn’t have time to marinate for 4 hours and I can only imagine how that would enhance all flavors. Nevertheless there were no leftovers. Thanks!

Brian Jones

Tuesday 24th of April 2018

So glad you enjoyed it Helen, it is a fab recipe :) Marinading makes a difference but I have skipped on occasions and like you cleaned my plate :D


Friday 9th of February 2018

This dish looks insanely good. I love all these amazing spices and the yoghurt integrated into cooking. So lucky here in London to find all the spices you desire for from all over the world. Asian food fascinates me. I cook a lot of Sri Lankan dishes. Yumm ? A superb dish, will definitely save it and make it. I really love the pictures too. ??

Brian Jones

Saturday 10th of February 2018

I lived in London for a while but it was what feels like an age ago... Well I guess it was 20+ years ago. The spices are not so readily available here but I put in a road trip to Budapest every couple of months to keep topped up :)


Sunday 4th of February 2018

I like Indian food but I definitely don't master their cooking skills. The video is very helpful. I love Rik Stain's recipes so I am sure not much needed to be changed. Now I need to go around with the list of those spices and find the French translation.

Brian Jones

Sunday 4th of February 2018

Have fun, hopefully the translation does not change too much, Indian spices typically retain either their western name or Indian name, I do however havea 300+km round trip to buy them :o


Sunday 4th of February 2018

Having been brought up in Scotland, Indian food was about the only 'foreign' food we ate out when I was young, and while I'm sure some were more of those dishes adapted to British taste, there were still so many I have a soft spot for. Your butter chicken looks wonderful, and definitely worth the extra effort.

Brian Jones

Sunday 4th of February 2018

That is not too different to growing up in Birmingham during the early 80's, eating curry definitely even predated McDonalds and Pizza :o

Byron Thomas

Thursday 15th of December 2016

Brian, this dish is calling my name - looks marvelous!

Brian Jones

Friday 16th of December 2016

Cheers Byron.

Skip to Recipe