Quick and Healthy Indian Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani) – in just 15 minutes
This popular classic Indian butter chicken can be time consuming to make but this quick and easy version can be made in 15 minutes and is still so authentic.
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Indian Butter Chicken is classic Indian recipe that is world famous. It is said that Butter Chicken was made by a chef in a New Delhi restaurant for a VIP customer that wanted a chicken dish. There was only a half tandoori chicken left over and not enough spices around. So he shredded the tandoori chicken, flavored it with butter and tomato puree, added a bit of cream and additional spices. The dish was a big success and from then on has been made in many different variations. I have eaten many different variations of this recipe.
My husband loves butter chicken but he thinks it’s unhealthy to eat because it’s loaded with butter. But, here’s the thing. A good butter chicken should be cream and delicious but not loaded with butter.
Why Butter Chicken?
The word butter refers to the smooth and satin like characteristic of the dish which is actually how we see butter. Smooth and silky. The creaminess comes from actually straining the the fiber from the ingredients like tomatoes and onions and adding a little bit of cream. So you see the sauce is strained to make it smooth and silky. You can add butter to flavor the chicken but a good butter chicken does not have to be drowned in butter.
Authentic vs 20 minute version
Below I will give you the authentic recipe I learned from my mom so you can see the difference in the recipes and also see the real stuff. It does take a while to make. My kids love Butter Chicken so I came up with this 20 minute version for my family which I think you will love too.
For my Jewish friends who love my recipes.
For those who want to make this dish Parve -Substitute the butter with butter flavored margarine and use non-dairy coffee cream instead of fresh cream.
A little tip on the cream – Heat the cream before you add the cream into the hot sauce to avoid splitting.
You can also add coconut milk instead of cream. It will have a different flavor but still delicious.
Other uses of this Butter Chicken recipe – Fusion foods
- Butter chicken makes great snack for kids school meals. You can buy or make tortilla or Indian chapati to simply make a wrap.
- Use them as the base for sandwiches of course – add come sliced cucumbers and tomatoes too!
- Make a batch of butter chicken and instead of serving it with chapati or rice – serve it over a bed of hot piping noodles. Nothign beat delicious butter chicken noodles.
- Do the same with Pasta – serve it with a bowl of penne and you got Butter Chicken Pasta.
I’m sure you will come up with more ideas – write them in the comments and I might add them here with a credit to you.
My recipe – Quick Indian Butter Chicken
500 grams / 1 lbs – boneless chicken ( I prefer thigh but you can use breast too)
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 btsp grated/minced garlic
2 tbsp Curry Powder
1 tsp Paprika or Cayenne
10 almond meal or cashew nut meal (optional)
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 cup unsweetened yogurt
2 tsp lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 tsp red tandoori color (optional)
(most Indian/Asian grocery shops would have these – does not add any taste – just authentic color)
Clean; pat dry and cut chicken into bit size pieces
Heat one tbsp. Oil in a saute pan.
Add the chicken pieces and brown them on all sides for color. (The chicken will cook more in the sauces later)
Remove the chicken and keep warm.
Add the remaining oil and saute the ginger and garlic for 30 secs before adding 1/4 cup water
Followed by the curry powder, cayenne – saute until the water is evaporated and the spices give a nice fragrance.
Add in the tomato puree, lemon juice and yogurt.
If using almond meal or cashew nut meal – add it now.
Let the sauce comes to a boil then add in the chicken.
Add 1/4 cup water. Tandoori color. Season with salt and pepper.
Let the chicken cook for about 5 to 7 minutes.
The chicken is cooked and the sauce is ready once you see the oil separate on the top of the curry.
Check for consistency – Add water if needed and bring to a boil. Alternatively simmer until it thickens.
Add the butter, garnish with a few cilantro leaves and lemon slices.
I always serve this with our family favorite Indian Spiced Potatoes and Indian Chapati so keep the consistency thick. If I were to serve it with white rice then I’d add a little water to make it more saucy.
Recipe Card to print –
- 500 grams / 1 lbs - boneless chicken ( I prefer thigh but you can use breast too)
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 btsp grated/minced garlic
- 2 tbsp Curry Powder
- 1 tsp Paprika or Cayenne
- 10 almond meal or cashew nut meal (optional)
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 cup unsweetened yogurt
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- ¼ tsp red tandoori color (optional) (most Indian/Asian grocery shops would have these - does not add any taste - just authentic color)
- Clean; pat dry and cut chicken into bit size pieces
- Heat one tbsp. Oil in a saute pan.
- Add the chicken pieces and brown them on all sides for color. (The chicken will cook more in the sauces later)
- Remove the chicken and keep warm.
- Add the remaining oil and saute the ginger and garlic for 30 secs before adding ¼ cup water
- Followed by the curry powder, cayenne - saute until the water is evaporated and the spices give a nice fragrance.
- Add in the tomato puree, lemon juice and yogurt.
- If using almond meal or cashew nut meal - add it now.
- Let the sauce comes to a boil then add in the chicken.
- Add ¼ cup water. Tandoori Color. Season with salt and pepper.
- Let the chicken cook for about 5 to 7 minutes.
- The chicken is cooked and the sauce is ready once you see the oil separate on the top of the curry.
- Add the butter, garnish with a few cilantro leaves and lemon slices.
My mom’s Indian Butter Chicken Recipe – made the traditional way..
(this is how our mom’s spend time cooking for us with love..!!)
A spice called ‘Kasoothi Methi’ which is dried Fenugreek leaves is what make this dish authentic. However, it is not easily available in some parts of the world. I have put it as an optional ingredient. The dish can be made and will be absolutely delicious even without it.
Let’s get started. – Serves 4
For the chicken
600 grams Boneless chicken Thighs
2 tbsp Yogurt
1 tbsp ginger paste
and 1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp – Chilly powder / Cayenne
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1 tbsp lemon juice
and 1 tbsp Mustard oil or Canola Oil ( I use canola)
1 tsp – fenugreek powder (optional)
1/8 tsp red food color (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste.
For the Sauce
6 large bright red tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste (I use this especially for color)
2 tsp garlic chopped
2 tsp ginger chopped
1 tsp Chilly Powder/Cayenne (or paprika for less spicy)
60 grams butter
1/2 cup fresh cream
1 tbsp honey
(3 green cardamons, a piece of mace, 2 small pieces, 6 pepper corns cinnamon 6 cloves) OR —- 1 tsp garam masala
10 cashew nuts.
1 tsp Kasoori Methi (optional)
- Clean, wash, and cut chicken to bite size pieces, Pat dry and place in a bowl suitable to marinate.
- Mix all the marinade ingredients including yogurt, lemon juice, spices and oil.
- Mix thoroughly, cover with cling/plastic wrap and set aside.
- You can let this chicken marinate for at least 4 hours up to over night.Cook the Chicken
- Heat a tbsp of oil on high.
Use a pair of thongs and place all the chicken pieces in a single row. Cook on high for about 3 minutes.
- Turn over and cook for two more minutes on high. Reduce the flame to medium and cook for another 2 minutes.
- You chicken should be almost cooked. It will cook more in the sauce too.
- Set the chicken aside in a warm place.
Let’s prepare the Sauce
- Have all your ingredients ready.
- On medium heat, add 2 tsp oil – add in the whole spices
- Add the chopped ginger and garlic, Cashew nuts – Saute
- Do not brown the Cashew nuts it will make the sauce bitter.
- Add in your tomatoes, cook for two minutes on high.
- Add 1/4 cup water, partially cover to avoid spattering and cook on medium heat for about 7 to 10 minutes.\
- Let cool for five minutes then use a blender to blend it all into a smooth paste
- Add about 1/2 cup water as necessary to help make a smooth runny paste.
- Strain the puree through a mes or sieve. This will give you a smooth and silky paste that Butter Chicken is known for.
- Place it back in the pan on medium. Add in the tomato paste and chilly powder/ Cayenne.
Note: The Chilly/Cayenne/Paprika and tomato paste adds to the color of the dish.
Most restaurants add a red food color to get the red color for their butter chicken
If you decide you want the restaurant look for your dish, do add 1/8 tsp of red food color.
- Once the tomato paste has blended well, let come to a boil and add in the chicken. Let the chicken heat through well.
- Next add in your butter, and cream. Stir well.
- Now goes in the optional ingredient – fenugreek leaves. Stir well. Give it one last boil.
- Taste test for salt and flavors.
- Do not over boil here as you do not want the cream to split.
- Serve hot with Naan. Chapatti or even plain white rice.
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