Little did I know that when one reader asked for an easy Butter Chicken recipe, it would take me SEVEN tries to get it right (seven ain’t a lucky number for nothing).
I tried 7 different versions until I settled on the recipe below. It was one of those things I just had to get right. Some recipes have butter in them and some don’t but what I learnt is that traditional Indian cooking doesn’t use butter, but Ghee instead, which is clarified butter. It is a technical detail and I am not entirely sure how important it is to the end flavour but I thought I would mention it. This recipe however uses neither! The creaminess is imparted by the cream and tastes perfect – trust me!
Another thing I came across in my research is that some recipes add an onion to the sauce and some don’t. The more authentic ones seemed to omit the onion and the recipe below doesn’t include onion either, however, there is no rule to say you can’t add one!!
The one thing that I do know about Indian cooking is that the spices need to develop and meld over time! This is why I recommend marinating the chicken overnight or for 24 hours for best results. If you really don’t have time, then try and marinade for at least 30 minutes before cooking although I have not tried such a short marinating time myself.
I should also mention that this recipe calls for 100ml of cream. When I made this with 250ml cream, it neutralised all the gorgeous spicy flavour. You may prefer your curries very mild in which case you would add more cream but you can easily adjust this at the end by tasting the final result.
The thing I LOVE about this recipe is that most of the work (if you can even call it that) is in preparing the marinade. Once that is done, the actual cooking part is SO easy because you only have to add a handful of ingredients and cook up some Basmati rice.
After marinating, the chicken is fried for approximately 3-4 minutes to cook the outside and to add a little more flavour before adding in the liquids and simmering on low heat. Be careful to time the 3-4 minutes – you really don’t want a tough butter chicken after all that time marinating.
Indian curries goes well with sambals, naan bread or papadums and a dash of coriander. And of course, fluffy Basmati rice, my favourite! Curry served with all of those things = curry love, at least in my life anyway! Hah!
Tried and tested Butter Chicken recipe that is full of flavour yet easy to make. For best results the chicken needs to marinate for 24 hours or overnight.
- 4-5 chicken breasts or 450-500g chicken pieces
- 125ml plain yoghurt (use full cream if you can)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (or butter)
- 250ml tomato puree*
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar **
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 100ml cream ***
- Cut the chicken breasts into cubes and mix the marinade ingredients with the chicken, making sure the chicken is well coated. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge overnight, ideally for for 24 hours, however 12 hours is fine too.
- In a medium-sized pan, heat the oil and take the chicken out of the marinade and place in the pan – don’t scrape all the marinade out of the bowl and into the pan, we just want the chicken!
- Fry for 3-4 minutes on high heat to seal the chicken and develop the flavours.
- Turn the heat down to low and add the tomato puree, sugar and salt and simmer for 20-25 minutes.
- Add the cream and taste whether or not you would like to add more.
- Serve with basmati rice, sambals and coriander. (a few naan breads would be great too!!)
- * If there is any opportunity to buy an Italian tomato puree – try and buy that one. I usually find they are WAY better and not as bitter.
- ** Omit the sugar if the tomato puree is sweet enough. Some of the standard grade tomato purees can be quite bitter and hence the need for the addition of the sugar. You may even need 1 tablespoon sugar however I would not add more than that. We don’t want a sweet curry we just want to ensure the tomato puree doesn’t impart an overpowering bitter taste.
- *** Add more cream for a milder curry but I suggest tasting before adding more.
- If you had a slow cooker, this recipe would work well too – after frying the chicken, I would add the puree, sugar and salt and cook on low for 6 hours before adding the cream.
- This recipe has been modified from RecipeTinEats.com who drew inspiration from Luke Mangan, an Australian chef. I have made modifications to the amount of chicken, oil, sugar, salt and cream.