Ian's Butter Chicken

3 minute read
I will be honest, this is a dish that I had not heard about until recently when I saw it prepared on a television program. Then coincidentally, one of my local supermarkets had jars of Butter Chicken sauce on special offer. The recipe that follows actually came about quite by accident, but the end result is unmistakably Butter Chicken, or to give it its Urdu name, Makhan Murgi.


About 670g of diced chicken breast (about 4 boobs!).
About 5 tbsp of butter ghee (NOT vegetable ghee!).
2 medium onions coarsely chopped.
3 garlic cloves crushed.
1 long green chilli thinly sliced … seeds included!
1 tbsp of Cumin seeds.
1 tbsp of Coriander seeds.
1 tsp of Fenugreek seeds.
1 tsp. Seeds from Green Cardamoms.
1/2 tsp. of whole black peppercorns.
3 cloves.
2 inch stick of cinnamon (not cinnamon bark).
About 4 tbsp of full-fat natural yoghurt.
2 tbsp of ground almonds.
200ml of double cream.


Now return the chicken, with any juices, to the pan, mix well and cook un-covered for a further 5 minutes.

Speaking of which, it is now time to add the yoghurt. Turn the heat down a bit; we don’t want the yoghurt to separate. Add a tablespoon of yogurt and mix it in. Keep stirring until the yoghurt appears to have gone. Allow any water content to boil off too. Add the yoghurt one tablespoon at a time using this method, after which, the chicken should be coated evenly. Place the cinnamon stick in the pan and cover it with the chicken. Stir in the cream and ground almonds. Reduce the heat, put a lid on the pan and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasional so that it does not stick to the bottom.
Over a medium heat, melt the ghee in a high sided heavy-bottomed pan. It is vital that you use butter ghee and not vegetable ghee since it is the ghee that gives this dish its distinct buttery flavour. Now, in batches, brown the diced chicken and set it aside. Next add the onion to the ghee and sauté it until it is golden. Whilst you are doing this, put the Cumin, Coriander and Fenugreek seeds in a suitable pan and roast over a medium heat for a few minutes until they become fragrant then grind them in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Be careful not to burn them when roasting. Now add the ground spices, cardamom seeds, cloves and peppercorns along with the garlic to the onions and fry the mixture over a medium heat for about 3 minutes.

Add the sliced chilli and cook for a further 2 minutes. Don’t worry if you think the seeds are going to make this a hot dish … the yoghurt will tone the heat right down.

The end result should be tender chunks of chicken in a rich and creamy buttery sauce. Finally, stir in a good bunch of freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve with freshly made parathas.

Try these additions …
Add some diced mango along with the cream …
Or pop in a few pre-soaked strands of saffron with the cream to add a final touch.