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From South To North - Butter Chicken

Butter chicken came from Northern India in 1948. Created by Kundan Lal Gujral, you may notice that Butter Chicken (known as murgh makhani — chicken with butter), is similar to British tikka masala. In many restaurants, except those that are most authentic, huge amounts of butter are added, which makes you need a nap and some Pepto Bismol afterwards. It’s not necessary - this is a great dish without that This buttery gravy is prepared with cream, giving the curry sauce a silky smooth rich texture.


For the chicken marinade:

28 oz boneless and skinless chicken thighs or breasts cut into bite-sized pieces

½ cup plain yogurt

1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced ginger

2 teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried red chilis or powder

1 teaspoon of salt

For the sauce:

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons ghee (or 1 tbs butter + 1 tbs oil)

1 large onion, sliced or chopped

1 ½ tablespoons garlic, minced

1 tablespoon ginger, minced or finely grated

1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 ½ teaspoons garam masala

1 teaspoon ground coriander

14 oz crushed tomatoes

1 teaspoon dried red chilis, adjusting to your taste preference

1 ¼ teaspoons salt (or to taste)

1 cup of heavy or thickened cream

1 tablespoon sugar

½ dried fenugreek leaves

fresh cilantro

Optional added veggies*


In a bowl, combine chicken with all of the ingredients for the chicken marinade; let marinate for 30 minutes to an hour or overnight if you have the time.

Heat oil in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat.

When sizzling, add chicken pieces in batches of two or three, making sure not to crowd the pan.

Fry until browned for only 3 minutes on each side. Set aside and keep warm. (You will finish cooking the chicken in the sauce.)

Heat butter or ghee in the same pan. Fry the onions until they start to sweat (about 6 minutes) while scraping up any browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pan.

Add garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute until fragrant, then add ground coriander, cumin and garam masala. Let cook for about 20 seconds until fragrant, while stirring occasionally.

Add crushed tomatoes, chilis and salt. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens and becomes a deep brown red colour.

Remove from heat, scoop mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. You may need to add a couple tablespoons of water to help it blend (up to ¼ cup). Work in batches depending on the size of your blender.

Pour the puréed sauce back into the pan. Stir the cream, sugar and fenugreek leaves through the sauce. Add the chicken with juices and any additional vegetables back into the pan and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and bubbling. I had some broccoli and fresh tomatoes that I added.*

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with rice or some naan.

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