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Butter Chicken

No shortcuts here. Just big flavours that will blow your mind

12 Jun 2017 30 mins 4


Butter chicken or, as they call it in India, Murgh Makhani is one of those dishes we all know and love. Front and centre are fresh chillies, garlic and ginger with traditional spices like cardamom, garam masala and smoked paprika all adding up to an incredibly tasty dish. Stock up your spice cupboard and give my version a try, you will not be disappointed.


600 grams boneless, skinless chicken thighs, diced
1 thumb-size piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
4 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 large red chilli, stalk removed
2 heaped tablespoons Greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon cornflour
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
½ teaspoon chilli powder
½ teaspoon garam masala
pinch of ground cinnamon
salt and pepper

olive oil
knob of butter
2 large onions, finely sliced
1 cinnamon stick
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (or 4 whole cardamom pods, ground, husks discarded)
2 cups tomato purée (passata)
1 cup cream
40 grams unsalted butter

fresh coriander
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted

26cm casserole or a large saucepan

Prep time: 30 minutes plus marinating
Cooking time: 35 minutes


Chicken: Place the ginger, garlic and red chilli in a small grinder and blitz to a wet paste. Scrape into a large bowl with the yoghurt and cornflour and mix well. Add the paprika, chilli powder, garam masala and cinnamon, then season and mix until well combined. Add the diced chicken and stir so the meat is coated in the mixture. Cover and place in the fridge to marinate for 2-3 hours, or overnight if you can.

Sauce: Heat a splash of olive oil with a knob of butter in the casserole on a low-medium heat. Add the onions and cinnamon stick and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are a dark golden colour. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute then add the paprika, garam masala and cardamom and cook for a further minute. Stir through the tomato purée and cook for two minutes, then add the cream and butter and stir well. Remove from the heat and take the cinnamon stick out. Use a stick blender or tip into a blender and blitz to a smooth sauce. (Take care not to splash yourself.)

To cook: Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade and thread onto metal skewers. Cook either in a griddle pan on high heat or under a grill on high for 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally to get the meat nicely charred on all sides. Once the chicken is just cooked, remove from the skewers and add the pieces to the sauce. Cook over a low-medium heat for a further 10-15 minutes to heat everything through and to ensure the chicken is fully cooked.

To serve: Serve the butter chicken with fragrant jasmine rice and garnish with the fresh coriander and toasted almonds.