{Baking} BUTTER CHICKEN … add zest to life with curry!

“I’ve been fascinated by Indian cookery since my mum took me for a curry when I was a child. It wasn’t me running away. It was doing something that excited me.”
Gordon Ramsay
There’s some thing homey and comforting in butter chicken, the curry that put India on the global culinary map. A quick Google for Butter Chicken throws up 7,220,000 results in 0.20 seconds! Phew, such is the popularity for this sumptuous curry from India that has won hearts over across the globe. Suman Bolar has delved deep into the origins of the dish … As a post-partition dish, butter chicken is a relative newcomer to the Indian culinary repertoire, and owes its existence to a man named Kundan Lal Gujral. In his book, The Moti Mahal Cookbook: On The Butter Chicken Trail, Monish Gujral, Kundan Lal’s grandson, shares the original butter chicken recipe. You can find the recipe here on Bolar’s blog. I’ve tried it and I have to say it is excellent, but the one I’ve posted today is very good too, and simpler {IMHO}. 
Butter chicken (or murgh makhani) is an Indian dish from Punjab, popular in countries all over the world. The origins of butter chicken can be traced back to Delhi, during the period of Mughal Empire. Butter chicken is usually served with naan, roti, parathas or steamed rice. It is often confused with Chicken tikka masala.
Butter chicken is our most famous dish, and embodies everything Indian. It is vibrant, colourful, robust, rich, comforting … in one word finger-licking good! In a sense, it’s got a bit of something to offer everyone. It’s adaptable as well. The richness can be stretched as you like it, or curtailed to a large extent, as I’ve done in the recipe posted below; it still delivers the punch! Immensely popular in Britain, where in the 1980’s, one would see it offered as the recommended dish on all menus at Asian foodie joints. At that time, one found it often lacked the punch and flavour, and was often just grilled chicken floating in a tomato cream sauce; very bland. That of course has changed now …
This celebrated dish find mention in British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s book Great Escape, a book about his escape to India which he thanks for bringing back his zest for life. His visit here wasn’t free from controversy though, with Christopher Hart’s article in the Daily MailWhat HAS India done to deserve Gordon Ramsay” making for an interesting read. Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani also finds mention in the book 1,001 Foods to Die For authored by Andrews McMeel; another good indicator of the international appeal the curry holds. The cuisine of India has been largely influenced by the rulers of her past – the Moghuls, the Arabs, the Rajputs and the Afghans, all significantly contributing to India’s rich culinary traditions.

Here’s a recipe I was introduced to by Monica Bhide, the author of Modern Spice. The recipe is adapted from the way her Dad cooked it, posted here. As she mentions there, and I agree, fresh ingredients hold the key to this recipe. With summer here, and a bounty of vine ripened red tomatoes painting the food markets red, this couldn’t be a better time to try it. As Mr PAB commented on eating this dish , “What shall I say? This is the best one ever!“… and this after I trimmed the fatquite a bit!!

Butter Chicken
Adapted from The Everything Indian Cookbook by Monica Bhide
Serves 4–5
For the chicken {Marinade}:
1 cup low fat hung curd / yogurt
1 tablespoon peeled, grated ginger
1 tablespoon peeled, minced garlic
2 tablespoons Indian tandoori masala {I used Shaan brand}
¼ cup tomato puree
Juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons ghee, {or melted butter}
750 gms boneless thigh pieces, cut up into 2″ bits
Salt to taste
For the gravy / sauce:
2 tbsp clarified butter/ghee {or unsalted butter}
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp minced garlic {I use my microplaner for both ginger and garlic}
5 medium tomatoes {about 250gms}, peeled and finely chopped
1-2 green chilies, slit {deseed to decrease heat}
1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves
1/4 cup low fat cream
Salt to taste
Method for chicken:
In a large bowl, mix together the yogurt, ginger, garlic, Indian tandoori masala, tomato puree, salt, lemon juice, and clarified butter. Add the chicken and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. {I marinated it overnight}.
Preheat the oven to 400Cº. Place the chicken in a single layer in a roasting pan. Pour all remaining marinade over the chicken. Roast 15 minutes, then turn the pieces over and roast for another 15 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the oven, pick out the pieces  and place in a bowl. Reserve the cooked marinade separately.
In a large skillet, heat the clarified butter for the gravy/sauce over medium heat. Add the ginger and the garlic. Sauté for about 30 seconds.
Add the tomatoes and green chilies and cook, stirring constantly. Use the back of your spatula to mash the tomatoes as you go. Continue until the tomatoes are completely mashed and soft. {I simmered this covered for about 20 minutes}
Add the reserved marinade, salt, pepper, fenugreek leaves, and chicken, and mix well. Simmer covered for about 10 minutes. Add the cream and simmer for another minute.
Serve hot with naan, tandoori parathas, lachcha pudina parathas or basmati rice.
 ♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

Don’t miss a post

The following two tabs change content below.
About me: I am a freelance food writer, recipe developer and photographer. Food is my passion - baking, cooking, developing recipes, making recipes healthier, using fresh seasonal produce and local products, keeping a check on my carbon footprint and being a responsible foodie! I enjoy food styling, food photography, recipe development and product reviews. I express this through my food photographs which I style and the recipes I blog. My strength lies in 'Doing Food From Scratch'; it must taste as good as it looks, and be healthy too. Baking in India, often my biggest challenge is the non-availability of baking ingredients, and this has now become a platform to get creative on. I enjoy cooking immensely as well.


  1. Jamie says:

    First? Am I first? Yay! That means more of this fabulous curry for me! I love this dish and would love to learn how to make it for my family! I don't make Indian food enough and we adore it! Gorgeous, moutwatering dish, Deeba; I want!

  2. Jessica @ How Sweet says:

    I have never had Indian, let alone make it! Looks delicious!

  3. It looks delicious. I will prepare this dish on lazy Saturday. Wonderfull photos.

  4. Twinsy Rachel says:

    I love butter chicken… tx for posting the recipe.. I have been trying to get a gud recipe to try. Now that after reading Mr. PAB's comment, I am sure itz gonna be a true star in the upcoming family gathering :)

  5. MeetaK says:

    move over jamie i want my share. no actually i am in love with the pans!! another thing i want! i have butter chicken on my blog and only wnat the pans after jamie has wiped it clean!! lovely looking chicken deeba – a favorite of mine too!

  6. Rosa's Yummy Yums says:

    What splendid pictures! That pan is very fancy. I love it. What a mouthwatering chicken dish, mmmhhh!



  7. Sudeshna says:

    As Meeta says the pan is so lovely. Loved the clicks too. Butter chicken should be our National Dish :)(I'm not sure whether it actually is).

  8. Tangled Noodle says:

    I can almost taste it! The name 'Butter Chicken' is so appealing and yet I was hesitant, thinking that this would be quite rich and high-calorie. But reading through the recipe, I think you've done a marvelous job of trimming the fat. It looks delicious!

  9. meeso says:

    Always a favorite in my house… I'm sure your recipe is amazing :)

  10. Sarah, Maison Cupcake says:

    That looks like a wonderful curry, I would really enjoy this.

  11. Sophie says:

    I can nearly smell & taste the dish through my MAC!!!

    What a superb & tasty dish, dear Deeba!

  12. Federica says:

    le foto sono meravigliose! e la ricetta è superlativa!! baci!

  13. Cool Lassi(e) says:

    Lovely mouthwatering dish!

  14. lisaiscooking says:

    Delicious-looking dish! I've just started reading Modern Spice, and I can't wait to get to this recipe–and then to get cooking from the book!

  15. Barbara says:

    I adore your photos, Deeba! So enticing. I've never made one Indian dish in my life! But I did go to an Indian dinner this summer; the hostess loves India, goes several times a year and she did a super job with the food.
    Perhaps I can get her to make this for her next party! Or perhaps I'll make it and surprise her!

  16. Gera @ SweetsFoodsBlog says:

    Butter chicken a great dish Deeba! Like the yellow highlighting to make easier the reading and it's famous, I've it here!! and is gorgeous :)



  17. Lazaro Cooks! says:

    Amazing post. Wonderful content, well-written, great photos. A+++

    I love a good curry!


  18. Magic of Spice says:

    Very interesting, looks great

  19. Charlotte says:

    this looks so delicious!

  20. eatanddust.com says:

    You beat me to it! – I'd earmarked this for this weekend. Nice post Deeba

  21. Manggy says:

    I could've sworn you'd already posted a butter chicken recipe before, but maybe I'm imagining things. Regardless, it looks really nice and rich – the kind I'd enjoy with a ton of rice.

  22. OMg! Deeba! I am saving this one down straight away!! Butter Chicken!!

  23. Junglefrog says:

    That just looks so absolutely delicious! I have tried to make a real Indian curry before but sofar have failed (don't ask me why it went wrong… I followed all the steps but the end result was… well not like I remembered from being in India. This looks very very good and have bookmarked it for future use!

  24. Sonia (Nasi Lemak Lover) says:

    wor, this look so delicious, best to have it with steam rice..

  25. Margot says:

    Delicious and beautiful images Deeba! :)

  26. tasteofbeirut says:

    I enjoyed reading this post as I have always been fascinated with anything that comes from India; the marinade in this dish is awesome, I have tried it before but have never made the entire dish from start to finish. Thanks to your clear guidelines, I am set now!

  27. Bellini Valli says:

    Butter chicken is definitely one of the more highly reconizable dishes in Indian cuisine, and definitely tasty. Thanks for sharing this version Deeba.

  28. Lovely, absolutely lovely! I like the photos, the styling, the writing and the recipe-I like it ALL!

  29. Linda says:

    Beautiful looking curry (and pictures by the way). Butter chicken is a big favorite in our house, although not the exact recipe you've noted here, will have to try this one next time.

  30. I've been on an indian food kick lately too. This looks fantastic and will definitely get added to the "to do" list, thank you.

  31. Stella says:

    This does look finger looking good. Actually, better than 'good'. Your photos are wonderful too-me likey!

  32. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful Wonderful…. u should start a restaurant of your own… with u as head chef

  33. Basic Meatloaf Recipes says:

    yummy!yummy! this looks too delicious!
    thanks for share.

  34. Natalie... says:

    Oh wow this curry looks amazingly good!!

  35. whisk-kid says:

    Yum! Your photos are mouthwatering.

    I wish my family liked Indian food as much as I do…

  36. Joanne says:

    I love butter chicken and ahve really wanted to learn to make it myself. From the vibrant colors here and the flavors you describe, I know this must be spot-on.

  37. penny aka jeroxie says:

    I was thinking what I should make today…. decision made. love curries in winter.

  38. Looks absolutely delicious. SUch a vibrant colourful post, Deeba. I adore butter chicken, will definitely try it this way next time i get the urge :)

  39. Lisa Michelle says:

    Butter chicken has been on my 'to do' list for ages now and after seeing your beautiful butter chicken, not only do I want to start now, but I also want to try yours!! I wish you lived close by! LOL

  40. The Cooking Ninja says:

    wow! your butter chicken looks fantastic. I'll have to try it out. I have cooked Balti Butter Chicken back in 2007 (just started trying to cook Indian cuisine) and it certainly didn't look this red like yours but it did tasted good. Think I'll have to revisit this recipe.

  41. Wow, Deeba – this looks incredible. :)

  42. WizzyTheStick says:

    Love when you give us these great Indian recipes. Also I love when your cameras stray outdoors to give us a view of life in your country

  43. Madame Sucre says:

    its definetly a dish to die for ! and thanks for trimming the fat a bit!! it will help!

  44. Peter M says:

    Although it appears on practically every Indian restaurant's menu, I do love butter chicken so.

    Does your family eat this often or is this more for western tastes?

  45. OysterCulture says:

    Oh you had me at butter chicken. Do you ever have those dishes by which you judge a Chinese, Japanese, Thai restaurant? Well butter chicken is my dish for Indian restaurants and I can say with confidence I'll never tire of it. I have a favorite recipe from a famous restaurant in the Bay Area called Amber India that I love, and will have to try your recipe as it sounds equally delicious. Thanks so much for sharing.

  46. Amanda says:

    I've never had it, but I bet it's amazing! I love that pan Deeba, so cool!

  47. dining tables says:

    My mouth is watering over the photos! I would love to make this dish! Looks so delicious.

  48. Murasaki Shikibu says:

    I think it's time to make a trip to the Indian grocer again to pick up a few ingredients…. :)

  49. Dharm says:

    Nothing like a good Butter Chicken!! I've always wondered why it was called Butter Chicken when there isn't that much ghee in it. Why not just a chicken curry??!!! Anyway, interesting story – we went out to a restaurant that served 3 types of cuisine – Chinese, Western and Indian – but all in one menu. My son ordered the Butter Chicken thinking it was a Western dish and The Lovely Wife, sitting next to him, didn't advise him otherwise. He was surprised at what arrived but even more surprised that he actually really enjoyed what he ordered although he wouldnt have ordered it if he knew what it was!!!

  50. i made this..it was yummy ineed! but i didnt get colour or that much gravy..so i added 1/4 cup water..did u add colour ..?

  51. Muneeba says:

    So indulgent and creamy … looks like it will melt in your mouth! I haven't made butter chicken in a long time … gotta try your version, because it just looks so much better!

  52. Levinson-Axelrod says:

    Great dish. Thanks for sharing your cooking talent.

  53. AdukalaVishesham says:

    creamy, rich, delicious dish.. we are drooling here.. well written and well presented post… enjoyed reading every bit of it..

  54. anubhavati says:

    Hi Deeba,

    Have always loved your clicks…now fell hook line and sinker for your pans and lovely ladles…are they copper? heavy old indian copper? wow such a heritage…


  55. An Open Book says:

    Hi deeba,
    Thanks for dropping by my blog the other day..i must say im a big fan of ur baking and cooking. I have bookmarked quite a few recipes, but the butter chicken was the first one i tried and it was so simple and tasty…loved it even more because i could bake the chicken and not fry it, which i completely dislike. I wish i had a pic to show you, but my ever hungry husband was eating my head about dinner and i said..oh well, next time then, and kept photography for a diff day…im sure il be making this again:)
    Thanks a lot deeba…

  56. sewa mobil di surabaya says:

    Oh wow this curry looks amazingly good!!

  57. tasteofbeirut says:

    I love Indian cuisine partially because it is so varied and its complexity never ending; I was stunned to find the ingredients for this dish rather simple to come by; a definite try then, especially since we are flooded with tomatoes right now. Beautiful photos as always, Deeba.

  58. One: this dish is absolutely delishious. My boyfriend almost proposed to me after I cooked it for our anniwersary.
    Two: the pan in the pictures is probably the most beautiful kitchen accesory I have ever seen in my life. I've been searching for something like this everywhere and found out it is simply impossible to buy something like this in my country. Do you know any shop on the web, where I could get some of these?
    Thank you

  59. Deeba PAB says:

    Thanks for your sweet comments Lila. Am glad you liked the curry. I bought the pan from a shop in New Delhi and I don't think they are available online. Would love to try and get one for you, but the courier charges to mail it to Poland would be too high.

  60. Oh, it's so nice of you to say that, thank you so much :) well, it's a real pity these things are not available online, seems I'll have to visit New Delhi myself 😉

  61. Deeba! I haven’t been here in ages (have so many blog posts to read on my reader), and I come and am greeted with this loveliness. I love butter chicken, and I think yours looks absolutely fantastic!
    Su-yin´s last blog post ..Baking for a cause: my first ever bake sale/tea party!My Profile


  1. […] About Baking, she also gives a little history and explanation of this traditional Indian recipe for Butter Chicken.  It’s always an added bonus when we learn a little about the origins of a particular […]

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge