Indian Butter Chicken
Indian Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken simmers in a buttery tomato sauce and is punctuated by several special spices and herbs. Skip the Indian takeaway and cook your very own version of the popular dish!

Abhinav, my brother, couldn’t get enough of butter chicken and for that reason I clearly had to hate it. Sometimes sibling rivalry makes you do things that don’t make sense.

What is butter chicken?

Butter chicken is prepared with marinated chicken that is first grilled and then served in a rich gravy (aka curry) made from tomatoes, butter and a special spice mix as a base.

Unlike most Indian curries, where the preparation of the base begins with a mixture of onions and a ginger and garlic paste cooked in oil, butter chicken uses tomatoes as the base and is cooked in butter, giving it a slightly sweet flavor. Cashews and almonds add to the sweetness and richness of the dish.

The Story of the Butter Chicken

Butter chicken’s roots date back to the 1950s when it was accidentally developed by the chef at the famous Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi, the capital of India. It was common for chef Kundan Lal Gujral to toss butter, tomatoes and leftover tandoori chicken in a pot to use up the leftovers.

Little did he know that this dish would become her bestseller and put her on the map. Today, the recipe is being adopted by restaurants around the world, although in Indian homes it is actually a “special occasion” dish.

Butter Chicken vs. Chicken Tikka Masala

Some people get confused between butter chicken and chicken tikka masala. The two might also look and taste similar to some. The main difference lies in the preparation.

More importantly, butter chicken has its origins in India, while chicken tikka masala was invented in the UK – it’s the national dish!

The spices for butter chicken

Kashmiri Lal Mirch: Butter chicken gets its light color and name from Kashmiri Lal Mirch, a red chili variety native to the northern Kashmir region. I usually buy mine at our local Indian store, but online retailers also carry great strains. (To cheat if you can’t find this spice, add a few drops of red food coloring to brighten the dish.)

Ginger Garlic Paste: Traditionally, freshly grated ginger and garlic are used for the paste, but if you want to speed up the process you can also buy a jar of ginger and garlic paste from a local grocery store or order it online such as: B. Rani Ginger Garlic Paste .

Kasuri methi: The real unsung hero in this spice symphony is Kasuri Methi, a variety of fenugreek leaves. It’s added to the dish in a very small amount, but its earthy flavor offsets the richness of the cream and the depth of the spices used in the dish. Takes the dish to a whole other level.

If you have a local Indian grocery store, it should stock this spice. These days, major supermarkets also stock it, including Whole Foods and Safeway.

Authentic Indian food at home

With this recipe, I’ve tried to stay as authentic as possible while keeping it simple enough that you can make it for dinner tonight without breaking your back.

Feel free to use just garam masala or even chicken tikka masala spice mix if you don’t have all the spices for the marinade. You can even use paprika in place of Kashmiri Lal Mirch if you’re having trouble finding it, and omit Kasuri Methi entirely if you absolutely have to (but remember, it’s the unsung hero for sure!).

I also used canned roasted tomatoes here to save the time of peeling whole tomatoes. Canned tomatoes also add to the deep red color of the dish.

Make-ahead butter chicken

You can freeze this dish in an airtight container or zip-lock bag for up to a month. Thaw and heat in a saucepan over medium-low heat to preserve texture.

Butter chicken uses lots of butter (Makhan in Hindi) while using chicken tikka masala Tikka Masala (a spice mix) consisting of coriander, paprika, black and green cardamom, cinnamon and turmeric. Butter Chicken is sweeter and Chicken Tikka Masala is spicier.

Looking for more great Indian recipes?

  • Tandoor chicken
  • Cauliflower Chickpea Curry
  • Pressure cooker Saag Tofu
  • Savory Coconut Rice
  • Turmeric Cauliflower Curry

Indian Butter Chicken

preparation time
30 minutes

cooking time
30 minutes

total time
60 minutes

4 servings

If you are having trouble finding the spices, you can substitute paprika for the kashmiri lal mirch and omit the kasuri methi.


For the chicken and marinade:

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into cubes of about 1 cm

  • 1/4 Cup Full fat Natural yoghurt

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste

  • 1 teaspoon floor coriander seeds

  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri Lal Mirch

  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  • Salt to taste

For the sauce:

  • 8 to 10 all almonds

  • 8 to 10 all cashew nuts

  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, divided

  • 1 tablespoon Ginger Garlic Paste

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 (fifteenounce) can diced tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoon dried coriander seeds

  • 1 1/2 teaspoon floor garam masala

  • 1/2 teaspoon floor Kashmiri Lal Mirch

  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt

  • 1 Cup water

  • 1/4 Cup heavy cream

  • 1/2 tablespoon kasuri methi


  • Cooked riceRoti or naan bread


  1. Marinate Chicken:

    In a large bowl, combine the chicken and remaining ingredients for the marinade. Use your hands to massage the marinade into the chicken.

    Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.

  2. Soaking Cashews and Almonds:

    Soak cashews and almonds in water for at least an hour to (or overnight) before preparing the rest of the recipe.

  3. Cook chicken:

    Heat a skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. Drizzle a teaspoon of oil into the pan.

    Remove chicken from marinade in batches and grill in pan for 3 to 5 minutes per side until chicken is cooked through (juice will run clear when cut). Don’t overfill the pan.

    After cooking, place the chicken in a separate bowl. Cover and set aside for later.

  4. Start by preparing the sauce:

    Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a medium Dutch oven or skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, add the ginger garlic paste and then the sugar. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes.

    Stir in the tomato and cook over medium-high heat until all excess liquid is evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. The sauce should have a fluffy, pasty consistency.

    Add the coriander, garam masala, Kashmiri Lal Mirch and salt. Stir and cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heater.

  5. Puree the sauce with the nuts:

    Place the paste in a blender or bowl of a food processor. Add the soaked cashews and almonds. Mix to a smooth paste.

  6. Finish the dish:

    Return the paste to the pan over medium-high heat. Add the water to the paste and stir to make a smooth sauce.

    When the sauce begins to boil, add the grilled chicken and cream. Mix well. Cover the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

  7. Let the butter chicken rest:

    Turn off the heat and uncover the pan. Stir in the remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter and the kasuri methi. Cover again and let the dish sit for 8 to 10 minutes to allow the flavor of the kasuri methi to blend with the butter chicken.

  8. Surcharge:

    Serve the butter with a side of steamed basmati rice, roti, or naan. Leftovers will keep refrigerated and covered for up to five days.

    You can freeze this dish in an airtight container or zip-lock bag for up to a month. Thaw and heat in a saucepan over medium-low heat to preserve texture.

nutritional information (per serving)
439 calories
31g Fat
12g carbohydrates
32g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!