Slow and Steady Butter Chicken

Butter chicken or Murgh Makhani is the classic Indian, grilled chicken in a rich gravy sauce often thickened with nuts and enriched with ghee and in this case sour cream.

Butter chicken or Murgh Makhani is the classic Indian, grilled chicken in a rich gravy sauce often thickened with nuts and enriched with ghee and in this case sour cream.

Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani.

There are thousands of easy butter chicken recipes on the web and whilst this is easy it is not a quick dinner.

As with many of my recipes, most of the work is in the preparation. Spending that little extra time on something really pays off in layering flavour.

As a result, you can keep your quick and versions of butter chicken, you cannot cheat flavour!

The two-stage marinade in my slow and steady butter chicken really is a testament to that!

Don’t be put off by what seems a really long list of ingredients, all of them should be readily available in a well-stocked supermarket.

At a push, you should find them in an Asian store. As far as I am concerned is always an exciting trip.

Let’s face it I can buy them in Hungary, the land that food progress forgot, so they can’t be all that rare.

Butter chicken or Murgh Makhani is the classic Indian, grilled chicken in a rich gravy sauce often thickened with nuts and enriched with ghee and in this case sour cream.

What Is The Difference Between Chicken Tikka Masala And Butter Chicken?

As I have mentioned before I was bought up in a city in the UK called Birmingham. A place that had the most vibrant Indian restaurant scene outside of India when I was growing up.

However, in the UK the ‘tandoor chicken’ and gravy dish was chicken tikka masala.

So what is the difference between Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken… The answer to that question is not a lot!

Butter chicken or Murgh Makhani was developed in the 1950’s in a restaurant in Delhi and chicken tikka masala in the 1970’s in a restaurant in Glasgow. Yes, Scotland!

Both recipes begin with a roasted, grilled or tandoor chicken, any recipe that does not begin with this is going to be missing a layer of flavour!

The core difference is in the sauce, butter chicken contains lots of butter or ghee to create a rich creamy sauce. Chicken tikka masala is very much a spiced tomato sauce and is less rich.

Butter chicken is often signified as containing fenugreek whereas Chicken Tikka Masala omits it.

This however probably dates back to the ingredients that were available in 1970’s Britian. Chicken Tikka Masala now often utilises Fenugreek.

Of course, there is much argument as there is in all food and nothing exists in isolation. So both of these recipes are no doubt riffs on food that already existed previously.

Butter chicken or Murgh Makhani is the classic Indian, grilled chicken in a rich gravy sauce often thickened with nuts and enriched with ghee and in this case sour cream.

My Butter Chicken Recipe!

My recipe for Murgh Makhani recipe is inspired by a recipe by Rik Stein. A wonderful British chef who is probably best known for his poetic love of global food.

Now I am not the most poetic of chaps but I share his love of food from around the world.

I have made a few tweaks to the recipe over the few years but to be honest not a great deal.

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 you could also serve with chapatis or even Bombay potatoes if you wanted to go left field!

Butter chicken or Murgh Makhani is the classic Indian, grilled chicken in a rich gravy sauce often thickened with nuts and enriched with ghee and in this case sour cream.
Slow and Steady Butter Chicken

Slow and Steady Butter Chicken

Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 4 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 30 minutes
Butter chicken or Murgh Makhani is the classic Indian, grilled chicken in a rich gravy sauce often thickened with nuts and enriched with ghee and in this case sour cream.

Ingredients

  • 2 Chicken Breasts, Approximately 225g each, remove the fillet and then slice the breast into 6 pieces
  • 1 Onion, Peeled and cut into qaurters

For Marinade 1

  • 1 Tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 Tsp Coarse Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder

For Marinade 2

  • 1 Tbsp Natural Yoghurt
  • 1 Tbsp Sour Cream
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, Peeled
  • 20 g Ginger, Peeled weight
  • 1 Tsp Garam Masala
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Turmeric
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp Armchur, AKA Mango Powder

For the Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp Ghee, Substitute for unsalted butter if needed
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, Mashed into a paste
  • 15 g Ginger, Finely Grated
  • 1/8 Tsp Asafoetida
  • 200 g Tomato Passata, Tomato Sauce in the US I believe
  • 2 Dried Chili, Optional
  • 1/2 Tsp Kashmiri Chili Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Corriander
  • 1/4 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1/8 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Fenugreek Leaves
  • 1/2 Tsp Garam Masala
  • 1/2 Tsp Coarse Sea Salt
  • 20 g Unsalted Cashew Nuts
  • 20 g Pumpkin Seeds
  • 100 ml Hot Water
  • 4 Tbsp Sour Cream
  • 1/4 Tsp Sugar

Instructions

  1. Mix all of the ingredients for marinade 1 together in a bowl and then add the chicken, mix to coat and then cover and place in the fridge for 1 hour
  2. After 1 hour place all of the ingredients for marinade 2 into a small food blender and blitz together to form a paste then add to the chicken and marinade 1 mix and then combine and re-cover and return the the fridge for 4 hours
  3. Preheat your grill as hot as it will go and thread the chicken and onion onto some skewers leaving space between each piece and cook over a suspended over a baking tray, you are not looking to cook the chicken all the way through but to get some charred flavour to the edges of the chicken, this should take between 5-10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile heat 2 tablespooons of ghee in a pan over a medium heat and add the garlic, ginger and Asafoetida then fry for 1 minute
  5. Then add the passata and dried chili and allow to simmer for 5 minutes
  6. Next add all of the spices for the sauce along with the salt, sugar and sour cream, then simmer for 5 minutes
  7. Blitz together the cashew nuts and pumpkin seeds into a paste with a little of the hot water, then add to the pan with the remaining hot water and cook for 5 further minutes
  8. Finally add the charred chicken to the pan and allow to simmer until cooked through, which should take 5-10 minutes depending on how long it spent under the grill.

Notes

Serve with Naan Bread

Adapted from Rik Stein's India

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 1199 Total Fat: 71g Saturated Fat: 28g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 30g Cholesterol: 263mg Sodium: 3586mg Carbohydrates: 65g Fiber: 11g Sugar: 16g Protein: 81g

Readers Comments

16 thoughts on “Slow and Steady Butter Chicken”

  1. 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!

    • 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 😀

  2. 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. ??

    • 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 🙂

  3. 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.

    • 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 😮

  4. 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.

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

  5. This reminds me more of a chicken tikka masala instead of butter chicken, but both are equally delicious and pretty much the same except for mundane details. I’m super curious about your addition of asafoetida and mango powder, though!

    • They are very similar indeed, Chicken Tikka Massala is rumoured to be a British Dish but it is a Bangladeshi (the first British Indian Retsaurants were typically Bangladeshi) on a Butter Chicken 🙂 The Hing and Mango powder came from a friends wife who made me a version of this dish and when I asked what the rounder flavour came from those were the answer.. The just stuck with me 🙂

    • Haha Jo… You were warned, nobody made you click 😉 It is stonkingly good, my go to, wanna feel like I am at ‘home’ curry!

  6. I really enjoyed reading your about me page! I can relate, new country, language…new life! I look forward to following your adventure and cookimg some of your yummy food, this butter chicken looks beautiful! Prost from Germany!

    • Thanks Adriana… Not sure I would ever call Indian food beautiful but it sure as hell tastes it 😀 Glad you like my little adventure, I have a whole new section of the site dedicated to it, just have to fill it out a little and hit publish 🙂

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