Butter chicken is possibly the most recognized and ordered Indian dish around the world. Succulent pieces of chicken are cooked in an aromatic, flavourful, rich, smooth tomato cream sauce. The subtle hints of ground dry red chilies, ground coriander and garam masala elevate this dish to its status as the most enjoyed Indian curry around. With a few restaurant secrets and some lower calorie alternatives you can enjoy Punjabi Murgh Mekhani (more popularly known as butter chicken) that looks and tastes just like at the restaurant without any of the extra calories! Oh, and it takes just half an hour to make. Follow this recipe and you’ll be totally delighted with the end results. Let’s get started.
Restaurant Style Butter Chicken – Recipe
- 1 cup cooked, shredded chicken (this is a good way to use leftover rotisserie chicken or tandoori chicken)
- 1 Tbsp. butter
- ½ cinnamon stick, 4 crushed cardamom pods, 4 cloves
- 4 cloves garlic, grated
- ½ inch piece of ginger, grated
- 1 yellow onion, chopped fine
- 500ml crushed tomatoes
- ¼ lemon, juiced
- ½ – 1 tsp. salt, or to taste
- 1 tsp. ground dry red chilies
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- ¼ tsp. turmeric
- 1 cup water
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 Tbsp. ground almonds or almond paste
- 1 tsp. garam masala (if you do not have whole spices then use 2 tsp.)
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 tsp. cream, for garnish (optional)
- Handful coriander leaves, for garnish (optional)
- Heat a large, non-stick heavy bottom pan over medium-high and add butter. Add the cinnamon stick, crushed cardamom pods and cloves and sauté until aromatic, 1 minute.
- Add the garlic and ginger and sauté a few seconds; add the onions and salt and sauté until onions are soft, 2 minutes.
- Add the ground dry red chilies, ground coriander and turmeric, toss and add the crushed tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the lemon juice and water, stir and simmer for 10 minutes until tomatoes are no longer raw and sauce starts to thicken.
- If you want a really smooth, restaurant style sauce you can turn off the heat and blend everything together using an emersion blender until smooth. Turn heat back on to medium-low, add the chicken and cook for 1 minute to let the chicken warm through.
- Add the milk and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes. Add the ground almonds or almond paste and stir until well combined and the curry starts to thicken slightly.
- Add the garam masala and sugar and stir until well combined. Taste test and adjust salt and sugar according to taste.
To serve, transfer to a large serving dish, drizzle with cream and top with coriander leaves. Butter chicken goes well with naan and plain white cooked basmati rice. The secret to achieving restaurant style butter chicken is to use canned crushed tomatoes instead of pureeing tomatoes yourself. The deep red colour of the canned crushed tomatoes will provide the necessary colour without adding artificial coloring. The ground almonds or almond paste give this dish an authentic taste as traditionally ground nuts were used in India to thicken curries. The sugar provides a nice balance to the other flavours, which makes for a tasty and nuanced dish.