Butter Chicken
Butter Chicken

Indian food and its cooking methods have been influenced by various civilizations who have contributed to its development and it’s evolving to its present form. One of the most popular dishes to emerge from India is the Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani).

Butter Chicken is believed to trace its origins to its creator, Kundan Lal Gujral, owner of the Moti Mahal, a restaurant in Daryaganj in Old Delhi. As the story goes, the cooks mixed some leftover marinade juices with butter and tomatoes and then stewed the tandoor cooked chicken, leading to the birth of this internationally loved delicacy.

While most friends would recommend this dish as a starting point if you are visiting an Indian restaurant for the first time, I assure you could easily make this chicken in the comfort of your own kitchen. Traditionally the chicken for this dish is cooked in a tandoor (traditional clay oven) but when made at home you could grill or panfry the chicken.

Soulfood Palette shares with you a very simple recipe to make this creamy mildly spiced dish of pure indulgence with tender pieces of chicken cooked in flavourable spices, tempered in herbs, tomatoes and cream. And like I always believe, as you follow the recipe, allow your own hidden or not so hidden culinary instincts to make any changes as your palette desires.


Chicken Marinade
– Boneless chicken thigh -1kg (cut in 1 ½ inch cubes- you could also use a full chicken cut into 8 or 12 pieces)
– Garlic paste- 1tsp
– Ginger paste-1tsp
– Lemon juice-1 tsp
– Deghi Chili powder(deghilalmirch) -1 tsp (this adds mild heat and a deep red-orange color- available in all Indian grocery stores. However if not in hand, you could substitute it with other chili powders)
– Coriander powder(Dhania powder)-1/2 tsp
– Salt – 1 ½ tsp
– Chicken Masala powder - 2tsp (there are a variety of them available in the market,you could use any. I prefer the MDH brand as it adds a lovely color to the dish)
* Whole spices (finely crushed together)
– Cloves -4/5
– Green Cardamom -3
– Cinnamon- 1 inch stick
– Butter- 3tbsp
– Onions – 6 ( medium sized roughly chopped)
– Tomato puree- 100ml
– Tomatoes -5(roughly chopped)
– Cashew nuts – 50 gms
– Bay leaf- 1
– Chicken Masala powder- 1tsp
– Deghi chilli powder- ½ tsp(adjust to taste)
– Oil – 1+ 3 tbsp
– Cream – 200ml
– Dried fenugreek leaves (Kasturi Methi )- 3tbsp( dry roasted and crushed)
– Salt – as per taste
– Milk – as per requirement
* GARNISH: (optional): Coriander leaves, Ginger, Green chilies


– In a bowl, marinate the chicken with ginger-garlic paste, chili powder, coriander powder, salt, chicken masala, and lemon for one hour.
– Heat the butter in a heavy bottom pan. Add the crushed whole spices and the marinated chicken. Stir well, cover and let it cook..
– Once the chicken has let out its juices (6-7 minutes), uncover the chicken and cook it till the chicken tenderizes and the butter fat releases from the side (about 15 minutes). Take the pan off the flame.
– In another pan, add 1 tbsp of oil and sauté the onions and cashew nuts till the onions turn translucent. Take the pan off the heat and once the mixture cools down, add the cut tomatoes and blend into a smooth paste.
– In a fresh pan, add 3 tbsp of oil, heat it. Add the bay leaf, paste, the chili powder and the chicken masala. Stir in the tomato puree and salt (as per taste). Cover it and let this curry cook on medium heat for 10minutes.
– Stir in the chicken, mix well, cover and cook for 5minutes.
– Add the cream,into the curry and once it boils take off the flame and stir in the dried fenugreek leaves.
– Garnish and serve hot accompanied with rice or Indian breads.

SOULFOOD PALETTE TWIST: Butter chicken has a creamy consistency, if you find the curry too thick add a little milk instead of water to reduce the thickness. This enhances the texture of the curry.

Tishita Chopra is a home cook who runs Soulfood Palette-food with a twist. Simple wholesome food, that warms me up on a cold winter day and cools me down on a hot summer afternoon. It’s freshly made-to-order food, with varieties ranging from the steamed Christmas puddings to warm Burmese khow suey to quiches to Creamy Bengali mustard fish.

You can reach out to Tishita Chopra through Facebook and view the Soulfood Palette Page or contact her on soulfood.palette@gmail.com OR tishchopra@gmail.com.

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  • Jan 23 2019 5:36PM
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