Last Updated on January 23, 2024 by Carne Diem
This North Indian butter chicken recipe is loaded with tender marinated chicken breast, and packed with warming Indian flavors. This restaurant style butter chicken is a family friendly recipe that is loaded with flavor, buy mild enough that the kids will love it.Jump to Recipe
Table of contents
I was first introduced to Indian cuisine and butter chicken, while studying in England. Britain is home to some great curry houses, and it was here that I feel in love with Indian cuisine. Upon moving back to the United States, I lived in an area that was lacking in Indian food restaurants, so I began to learn home to make Indian food at home. This restaurant style Indian butter chicken recipes is one of the first curries I learned to make at home, and has remained a favorite.
I love Indian food - it's my favourite cuisine. I love the mixture of spices and the subtle flavours. It's really erotic; the spices are so sensuous. -Joe Perry
Now that we dine at Indian restaurants frequently, we try to show our children and friends that have not experienced Indian food before, how wonderful it is. We always recommend butter chicken, also known as murgh makhani as a great gateway dish to the other curries. In our household, butter chicken, along with chicken tikka skewers, and glasses of mango lassi, have become one of our children's favorite meals. It is fun to watch the 4 year old sopping up every last bit of sauce with his piece of naan bread.
Making Indian Butter Chicken at Home
Homemade butter chicken is actually surprisingly easy to make. Other than sourcing a couple of spices that you may not have on hand, making the mild Indian curry is very simple. You just need to make a yogurt and Indian spice marinade, marinate overnight, and then cook the curry. Once the chicken is marinated, the cook time for homemade butter chicken is under 30 minutes.
Prepare the marinade
To make the chicken breast marinade you just need Greek yogurt, turmeric, and Garam Masala. Both turmeric and Garam masala can typically be found at many super markets now.
To make the murgh makhani chicken marinade for the butter chicken, combine the yogurt, garam masala and turmeric in a medium sized bowl.
Cube the chicken breasts, and combine with the marinade. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight.
Yogurt acts as a great tenderizer for meats like chicken. It is also much more gentle in is tenderizing action compared to things like citrus, so you are unlikely to run into issues like mushy chicken, from marinating too long.
Prepare the spice mix for butter chicken
To make the spice mix, you will need a handful of spices. Most like salt, pepper, cumin, cayenne, coriander, and cumin are readily available.
Garam Masala- Garam masala is an Indian spice mix, used frequently in Indian curry dishes. This spice mix typically contains a number of warming spices like cinnamon, cardamom, clove, and nutmeg in addition to other spices. It is becoming increasing more available, or can be ordered on Amazon.
Turmeric- This bright yellow spice is one of the most common and important ingredients in many curry powders and curry recipes. Turmeric should be available at most stores.
Fenugreek Leaves- Also known as Kasoori Methi, fenugreek comes from a clover like plant found in Asia. The use of Fenugreek leaves in the Indian butter chicken recipe is optional, but recommended. You will typically need to get this at an Asian market or from Amazon.
After gathering your spices, prepare your spice mix by combining in a small bowl.
Prepare the butter chicken sauce
To make the butter chicken sauce from scratch you will need onion, ginger, garlic, coconut milk, tomato, and tomato sauce. Alternatively you can substitute heavy cream for the coconut milk.
Gather the remaining ingredients for the murgh makhani sauce.
Finely dice the ginger, and chop the garlic and onion. We typically use about 5 garlic cloves, which is typically about 2 tablespoons. If you have extra, use it. Never skimp on the garlic!
Cooking the restaurant style Indian Butter Chicken
To start cooking the curry, melt 2 tablespoons of ghee in a skillet over medium heat. Ghee is a clarified butter you will frequently find in Indian cuisine. Clarified butter is butter in which all of the milk solids and water have been removed, resulting in a sweet, nutty flavor. In addition, Ghee has a much higher smoke point than regular butter, making it much less likely to burn when using it to fry or sauté with. Icing on the cake, because the milk solids are removed, ghee can be used for people with dairy sensitivities, and is shelf stable.
Once the butter is melted, add in the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, then add in the garlic and ginger and continue to cook for about 2 more minutes, until the onion is soft.
Next, add in the spice mix and stir to combine well. Cook for about 1-2 minutes.
Finishing the butter chicken
Remove the chicken from the marinade, and add to the skillet. Stir fry the chicken for about 5-7 minutes, or until the outside of the chicken is fully cooked.
Next stir in the tomatoes and the tomato sauce and stir to combine.
Finally, stir in the coconut milk or heavy cream. Cream is more traditional, but our family really loves the extra sweetness of the coconut milk. You can't go wrong with either.
Reduce the temperature to simmer and continue to cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, and the chicken is cooked through. This typically takes about 5-10 minutes, but don't over cook and don't let the sauce on the bottom burn. If the sauce becomes to thick, thin with a little more cream.
What to serve with Indian Butter Chicken
Serve the butter chicken alongside some jasmine rice, and plenty of warm naan bread. For the best naan bread ever, brush it with a little olive oil and warm it in a hot oven for a few minutes, or for the quick version, toast very briefly in a toaster, then brush with fine olive oil just prior to serving. No Indian dish is complete without a smooth, cool, glass of mango lassi.
Other great Indian sides to go with Indian butter chicken include samosas, and pakora, and papadums.
For more great International recipes using chicken breast, be sure to explore some of our other recipes:
- Chicken and Smoked Sausage Jambalaya
- Grilled Chicken Spiedini
- Peruvian Anticuchos de Pollo: Peruvian Chicken Skewers
- The Best Chicken Kiev with Fresh Herb Butter
- Blackened Chicken a la Mer
- Bunny Chow: South African Durban Style Chicken Curry
- Salvadorian Pollo en Crema
Frequently Asked Questions
Butter chicken is one of the mildest Indian curries making it a great curry for kids and those that don't like spiciness.
Butter chicken is believed to have ben created in Northern India, specifically Amritsar, so the dish does have Indian roots, though its mild flavor have made the curry popular worldwide.
Butter chicken is best reheated on a stovetop. Bring to a simmer before serving. If the sauce becomes too thick when reheating, thin with a little cream or coconut milk.
Leftover butter chicken should be refrigerated and is best if eaten within 3 days of making it.
Mild curries like butter chicken (murgh makhani) or chicken Korma, are some of the most popular mild Indian curries.
We really hope you enjoyed this dish as much as our family does. Please encourage others to branch out to this fabulous world of diverse cuisine. Thank you for taking the time to visit our blog. If you tried and enjoyed our recipe please share with others and please leave us a comment and review. We also love to see your pics so don’t forget to tag us @Carne_Diem_Culinary or #CarneDiemBlog. To be notified of future recipes please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest, or sign up for our e-mail notifications. Until next time, Carne Diem!
Northern Indian Butter Chicken-Murgh Makhani
- 2 Chicken Breasts cubed
- 1 Yellow Onion diced
- 2 Tablespoon Ghee or clarified butter
- 8 ounce Can Tomato Sauce
- ½ cup Tomatoes diced
- 2 Tablespoon Garlic fine dice
- 1 teaspoon Fresh Ginger fine dice
- ½ cup Coconut Milk or heavy cream
- ½ cup Plain Yogurt Preferably Greek
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
- ½ teaspoon Turmeric
- 2 teaspoons Fine Sea Salt
- 1 teaspoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Ground Coriander
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
- 1 teaspoon Turmeric
- ¼ teaspoon Cayenne
- ¼ teaspoon Black Pepper
- ¼ teaspoon Cumin
- ¼ teaspoon Fenugreek Leaves Optional
- Combine all of the spice mix in a small bowl and set aside.
- Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.
- Cube the chicken breast and add to the marinade. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, but better overnight.
- When ready to cook, melt the ghee over medium heat.
- Add in the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add in the ginger and garlic and cook an additional 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in the spice mix with the onions and cook for another 1-2 minutes until well combined.
- Remove the chicken from the marinade and add to the onion-spice mixture. Cook the chicken for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, until the outside is evenly cooked.
- Stir in the tomato sauce and tomatoes, and stir to combine.
- Stir in the coconut milk or heavy cream and stir well.
- Reduce heat to simmer and cook about another 5-10 minutes. The sauce should be slightly thickened and the chicken should be tender but cooked through.
- Serve along Jasmine rice and naan bread. Top with some fresh cilantro.