Thursday, January 14, 2010

Possibly the best-ever butter chicken

Butter chicken is a very western Indian curry, but it is oh-so-tasty! This is one of the few Indian curries I've made that I believe to be tastier than what you get at a restaurant. It's just that good!

The original recipe was taught to me at an Adult Education cooking class given by a local ex-restaurateur. Over the years I've modified it into the version below.

At first glance it appears to have a lot of ingredients, but note that quite a few are repeated in both the marinade and sauce, so it's not as daunting as it looks. They are mostly standard pantry ingredients, for me at least!

This can be a pretty fast curry to make - I can cook it in half an hour at a pinch. If you don't have the time or opportunity to marinate for 4 hours, all marinade ingredients can be added to the chicken at once and then put in the oven straight away, but I'd recommend at least 15 minutes of marinating time as a minimum for a better flavour.

500g diced chicken (thigh is tastiest, but breast is healthier)

1 tsp salt
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
1/2 a small red chilli, very finely diced
1 tbs crushed fresh garlic
1 tbs crushed fresh ginger
1 tbs yoghurt
1 tbs tomato paste
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp Tandoori colour*

For the sauce:
2 tbs butter
2 tsp crushed fresh garlic
2 tsp crushed fresh ginger
3 tsp paprika
3 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt
1 tbs almond meal
1 tbs honey
1 tin crushed tomatoes
1 tbs tomato paste
2 tsp cornflour dissolved in ¼ cup water
2 tbs fresh cream

blanched almond shavings and fresh coriander (to garnish)

Sprinkle chicken with salt, lemon juice and chilli, then mix well. Refrigerate for 10 mins.
Add the rest of the marinade ingredients, mix well, and refrigerate for 4 hours.
Preheat the oven to 230˚C. Spread the chicken on an oven tray and cook for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan cook the butter, ginger and garlic on a very low heat. Stir regularly and continue until garlic and ginger change colour.
Add paprika, garam masala, salt and almond meal. Mix (it will form a bit of a paste/dough) and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
Add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and honey. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for a few minutes.

Butter chicken
Chicken pre-oven and sauce pre-chicken

When the chicken has cooked, add it (plus any juices) to the saucepan and mix well. Continue simmering.
When the mixture looks glossy and has a sheen on the surface (this can take up to 10 minutes) reduce to a gentle heat.
Slowly pour in the cornflour and water mixture, stirring all the time to prevent lumps forming.
Just before serving add the cream and mix well.
Garnish with almond shavings and coriander, serve with rice (basmati is best for Indian dishes).

* Tandoori colour is a bright red liquid, like an essence, available from places such as Wing & Co and Spiceworld. Completely optional and I don't use it, but if you do you end up with a very rich-looking red sauce.

Butter chicken


  1. Butter Chicken is my FAVORITE!! Looks fantastic, shall have to try this recipe =D

  2. Let me know how it goes if you do!

  3. Can you recommend/test out a vegetarian curry? That would be great! :) C

  4. I shall! I have a couple of good vegetarian Indian recipes, will endeavour to make them soon :)

  5. This dish is totally awesome and even a cooking nub like me can make it work to 100% excellence. Plus it's handy for gettin' the ladies ;)