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Butter Chicken

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© 2010 Helana Brigman
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People who know me know that I love Indian food.  Curry is one of my favorite spices to cook with and I have a ton of recipes available on Clearly Delicious that take advantage of said spice (see Curry in a Hurry and Curry Rice).

When my friend Lydia first introduced me to a recipe in the Curry family called “Butter Chicken” or “Murg Makhani,” I knew that it had to be clearly delicious–consisting of cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, cumin, and much much more, the sauce and chicken combination promised a full bodied flavor that was melt-in-your mouth authentic in the Indian cuisine family.

Although the name of this recipe “Butter Chicken” suggests a sauce that is primarily butter based, the name is indeed a misnomer–instead of being butter based, the sauce consists of greek yogurt and tomato sauce with melted butter added at the end (2 tablespoons).  This recipe is significantly healthier than one might think.  Regardless of its name, the sauce is a creamy, flavorful, mildly spicy sauce-based dish served over white or brown rice.

Butter Chicken
Lydia found this recipe on the About.com website (recipe can be found here).  The recipe is written by Petrina Verma Sarkar, one of the About.com Indian food writers.  Follow the below recipe for an authentic, tasty Indian entree, but if you can’t find a couple of the exact spices (i.e., kasuri methi), don’t worry too much–the other spices easily balance out one or two missing spices.

* 1 kg boneless chicken skin remove
* Juice of 1 lime
* Salt to taste
* 1 tsp red chilli powder (adjust to suit your taste)
* 6 cloves
* 8-10 peppercorns
* 1 inch stick of cinnamon
* 2 bay leaves
* 8-10 almonds
* Seeds from 3-4 pods of cardamom
* 1 cup fresh yoghurt (must not be sour)
* 3 tbsps vegetable/canola/sunflower cooking oil
* 2 onions chopped
* 2 tsps garlic paste
* 1 tsp ginger paste
* 2 tsps coriander powder
* 1 tsp cumin powder
* 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
* 1 can (400g or 14 oz) of tomato paste
* 1/2 litre chicken stock
* 2 tbsps kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
* 3 tbsps unmelted, soft butter
* Salt to taste
* Coriander leaves to garnish

Other Accompanying Dish:
* Prepare 6-7 servings white, or brown rice.  (Note: I use a handy-dandy,
rice cooker.  I’ll never have to wait for water to boil again!)

1.) Begin by marinating the chicken: add the juice of one lime and 1 tsp chili powder in a bowl with the chicken.  Mix and cover the chicken thoroughly; wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.

2.) Roast cloves, peppercorns, cinnamon, bay leaves, and almonds till lightly dark.  Cool and add cardamom seeds.  Grind until powder in a coffee grinder.
3.) Mix yogurt with the above ground spice powder with cumin, coriander, and turmeric.  Add to chicken mixture.  Mix thoroughly and allow to refrigerate for another hour.
4.) When chicken mixture has marinaded for an hour, sauté onions in a saucepan with a tablespoon of olive oil (or butter) until golden brown and translucent.  Add garlic paste and ginger. Sauté for one more minute.
5.) Add chicken and cook with garlic/ginger/onion mixture.  Chicken should be browned, but not cooked completely (you’ll want to finish cooking the chicken in the sauce with the next step).
6.) Once chicken is thoroughly cooked, add tomato paste, chicken stock, and remaining yogurt sauce mixture.  Cook till chicken is tender and sauce has reduced by one half.
7.) Melt butter in separate saucepan and pour over chicken and sauce mixture.
8.) Mix to integrate and pour sauce mixture in a deep serving pan.  Serve with white or brown rice.  Makes 5-6 servings.  Enjoy!

Murgh Makhani (Butter chicken)

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