Damn Good Butter chicken

Mallika Basu - Damn Good Butter chicken

Posted 25th October 2007

butter-chicken.jpgI need a pretty damn good reason to put 500 gm of full fat butter in anything. I got two.

England made it to the rugby World Cup finals. And the British chicken tikka masala celebrated 60 years since inception.

Plans for the evening were being hatched by hubby and his brothers. So 25 emails later, they were as clear as mud.

Sis-in-law sensibly kept mum. But I stepped in once offering to cook curry for the big night. Which then led to another flurry of emails:

Hubby: “Mallika has offered to cook a curry. Don’t know if it’ll be good, but it’ll be edible.”

Brother 1: “I’d rather go for a vindaloo down the road instead…”

Brother2: “I LOVE Mallikita’s curries!!”

Ignoring it all, I took to Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani. The mother of all chicken tikka masalas.

As I guzzled vino and vodkas, the bunch of adults raced in and out of the kitchen for fourth helpings.

Quite rightly. It was sinfully delicious and effortlessly simple to make. A third pretty damn good reason.

This recipe feeds 10:

2 kg boneless chicken breasts

250 gm + 4 tbsp natural yogurt

142 ml soured cream

500 gm salted butter

1.3 kg passata (the best you can get)

8 green cardamoms

16 whole black peppers

4 inches cinnamon

16 cloves

2 inches ginger

16 cloves garlic

2 tsp kassori methi (dried fenugreek)

4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat the oven to a high heat (200 degrees centigrade). Start cutting the chicken into large bite-sized chunks and piling them up in a mixing bowl.

Place the whole spices on a baking sheet and dry roast them for about 10 minutes until you can smell them strongly in the kitchen.

In a blender, whizz together the roasted spices with the ginger and garlic. Add a little bit of water to get a smooth paste. I would ask you to powder the spices et al but it’s too tiresome.

Don’t worry if the paste is a little grainy. Add it along with salt, lemon juice and the 250 gm of yogurt to the chicken and mix the whole lot together well.

Leave this to rest for at least two hours. I left it for three. When you are ready to eat, preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade or gas mark 5.

Spoon the pieces of chicken into two shallow baking sheets and bake for twenty minutes until they are white all the way through. Soak the kasoori methi in two tablespoons of hot water.

In the meantime, bring the passata to heat in a large pot over a medium heat. Mix in the remaining yogurt, sour cream and butter.

When you can see the melted butter on the surface of the curry, mix in the cooked chicken with all its juices.

Finally, stir in the kasoori methi and its hot water. Serve immediately with jeera pulao and Cobra beer for ultimate satisfaction.

PS = 500 gm of butter for 10 people isn’t too bad…. Or is it???

PPS = Murgh makhani has featured a lot on blogs recently. Try this version too.

29 responses to “Damn Good Butter chicken”

  1. Krista says:

    Ok, so I have to ask, oh-she-of-seldom-used-chicken-breast. Why breasts? I’m working on converting to thighs et al., and you go and throw this monkey wrench into my mix? Argh. I’m so confused…

  2. Happy Cook says:

    Wow it looke really delicious. Winning rugby or not i would love to have it.
    I am certain brother 1 would never dare to say no to your cooking.

  3. Rina says:

    Absolutely luv this. Thx for the recipe. Lovely pic.

  4. Mallika says:

    Hi Krista

    Well spotted! I used chicken breasts here because the recipe requires marinating, which means the masalas will have ample time to seep into them and tenderise the usually hard-as-rock part of the chicken. If you’re just stir frying chicken or cooking them in a quick curry please please please don’t use chicken breasts. They are as bland as a a piece of rubber, only paler…


  5. Asha says:

    I mix both dark and white meat for Butter chicken. Kids love just the breasts. Looks great Mallika. It is more than “edible”, did you rub some on your hubby’s face? ;D
    And starve that brother 1 next time!:P

  6. Krista says:

    Ah, your mysteriuos ways revealed.

    Many thanks.

  7. Ashwin says:

    I use a coffee grinder exclusively to grind whole spices. It works great. (Just don’t ever use it to grind coffee!

  8. Srivalli says:

    chuck that brother who didn’t want to eat something that looked this heavenly..am sure next time round he won’t open his mouth..:)

  9. Cinnamon says:

    Hey Mallika…. It looks delicious!!! And you have good reasons to celebrate is’nt it 🙂
    And don’t mind abt the comments… going into the kitchen for 4th helping says every thing 🙂

  10. Jules says:

    Looks absolutely delicious!.

  11. swaroopa says:

    im sure its pretty good!! thanx 4 sharin

  12. Maninas says:

    aaargh mallika why didn’t you post this 2 days ago? 🙂 i was looking for a butter chicken recipe! i eventually found one, and made one. it was delish, but not quite the butter chicken the hubby was expecting!

    I shall be making this again, so i’ll try your recipe. i have a story to tell about a terrible date and butter chicken!

  13. Maninas says:

    ah, did i say i was the terrible date? 😀

  14. Naz says:

    Mallika, I am an avid reader of your blog! Absolutely love the dishes! I do have a question about this recipe – what exactly is passata? Google says:


    But I am sure you would never involve pancetta in Indian cooking! Thanks!

  15. Mallika says:

    Hi Naz

    So nice to hear that! Now to your Q.

    As you know I would rather poke my eyes out than skin, boil and sieve a kg of tomatoes. Passata does exactly that. In a bottle. At a pretty good price.

    Check out http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/glossary/p.shtml?passata for a very good explanation.

    This stuff saves my life with pastas, soups, casseroles and the odd curry. Buy the very best quality available in the tinned tomato section of your local supermarket.

    Hope this helps!


  16. Kalyn says:

    Sounds delicious, and this is the first time I’ve heard of passata. Love learning about new things!

  17. Karen says:

    This looks delicious and your descriptions of hubby and brothers are so funny. I love reading your blog and am planning to make this on the coming weekend. Thanks for posting the recipe.

  18. Shella says:

    Butter chicken looks so good. The colour is so tempting. mmmm, never made it, though had it lots of time. In Delhi its a staple resaurant food.

  19. Dan says:


    I’ve linked to this page in a discussion about curries on my blog, and posted your image with full credit back to here.

    Hope that’s OK, if not let me know and I’ll take it down.

    Looks delicious, BTW. Can you give me an idea of how hot this recipe comes out?



    The link is here: http://freshly-ground.blogspot.com/2009/01/who-has-great-butter-chicken-recipe.html

  20. Sandra says:

    This recipe looks awesome, however it takes a long time to make especially when you have to roast and grind all your own spices. I’ve got a homemade butter chicken spice mix that does the job just a good and saves a ton of time. I’m giving away some samples too if you want to try it.

  21. Acyclovir. says:

    Acyclovir iv meds program….

    Prescribing acyclovir. Acyclovir herpes simplex….

  22. Kelley Hagan says:

    If only more than 19 people would hear this!

  23. Jim says:


    this curry recipe sounds really good and a bit complicated. Would love to try doing it myself and see how it turns out

  24. Monika says:

    What exactly does 4 inches of cinnamon mean? And what does 2 inches of ginger mean? Could you please suggest these ingredients in a different measurment? Thanks so much! I can’t wait to try this recipe.

  25. Natalie says:

    I just made this. I am lactose intolerant, so I made a few adjustments.

    First, I substituted homemade coconut kefir for all the yogurt and sour cream. If anyone knows of a better sour cream substitute, let me know!

    Then I clarified my butter and strained out the milk solids.

    It is delicious, and I get to enjoy Indian food without the lactose!

    Thanks for this great recipe.

  26. Jamie says:

    Just wanted to say this recipe is awesome. I made it tonight with my fiance – two incredibly white people to be honest, who just love eating out at Indian restaurants and other cuisines from pretty much everywhere – and we did not change anything (Except I was about 4oz short on butter!). Also made the jeera pulao and also, amazing! Only comment is… I wish you posted new recipes more often! 🙂 I’ll just watch on Facebook for new ones I suppose 🙂

  27. […] resembles the heaven that Swagat makes (if you haven’t been, I recommend it). Not only does this Butter Chicken recipe look good, but a lot of her recipes look good. Maybe it’s time for another […]

  28. Cecily says:

    I loooove your blog. These recipes are fantastic and your explanations are brilliant. I am british and have lived in spain for 14 years and have suddenly devoloped a desire to cook indian food and you are exactly what i have been looking for to assuage this strange ‘home’sickness. Thank you xx

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