Butter Chicken
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Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

Butter Chicken?
Butter + Chicken?
Chicken + Butter?!
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Butter Chicken is actually a relatively new invention, only going back about 70 years. Like so many historic or traditional foods, this is a dish that stems from utilizing leftovers.
The legend suggests there was a restaurant located in 1950’s Delhi; a restaurant specializing in Tandoori Chicken (spiced chicken roasted in a clay oven [a tandoor]). They found themselves having an abundance of leftover marinade, and occasionally leftover Tandoori Chicken. Rather than waste these foods, they tried stewing the chicken in a mixture of leftover marinade, tomato, and butter. A star was born!
Now, because we’re all very unlikely to have Tandoori Chicken lying about, much less a tandoor, we’re going to take a different approach, simply marinating the chicken, searing it, stewing it in tomato and butter, then finishing with cream. We’ll lose a bit of the smoky, clay oven mystique, but the dish is still undeniably smooth and comforting.
There’s a reason this dish is one of the most popular dishes in India, if not the world! It’s a fantastic keto/low-carb recipe and while it does contain a blend of spices, it’s not considered a potent curry. It’s relatively mild in its kick and aroma, all while having a creamy, luscious gravy.
If you’ve ever wanted to give a curry a try, this is a fantastic place to start. Curry for newbies!
Spice Note: Indian recipes frequently call for a wide assortment of spices rarely used in most western kitchens. My suggestion would be to find a spice shop or grocery store that sells bulk spices. This way you can purchase very small amounts of spices and utilize them right away, rather than buying more than you need and letting the spice gracefully age in some long-forgotten kitchen corner.
Photo Note: Served with Garlic Naan. I also wanted something nice spoon my Butter Chicken atop. So, I whipped up a nice little rice bed, consisting of cauli-rice steamed with a bit of turmeric and a few frozen peas. I also added some chopped, fresh cilantro and some toasted almond slivers for bulk, fat, and a nice crunchy texture!
Bulk Storage Note: I love to make huge batches of this. It portions, freezes, and reheats very well. However, I do not add the cream to the base. Instead, I will multiply these ingredients by 4, then follow the steps. I will bring the recipe up to the point where the browned chicken bits are added to the almond-tomato paste. I’ll stir it in, then quickly spread the mixture along the bottom of a large baking tray and place in the refrigerator to thoroughly chill. Once chilled, I’ll portion into small deli cups with lids and freeze. From there, I’ll pull a deli cup from the freezer and defrost overnight. The next day, I’ll add the mixture to a small soup pot with some cream and bring it up to a simmer. Then, I’ll stir some fresh cilantro leaves into it, adjust seasoning, then pour over a bed of cauli-rice or squaghetti!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Indian
Servings: 4
Author: DJ Foodie


  • 1/4 cup blanched, slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Greek yogurt
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 2 tsp 'Swerve' or other sugar replacement
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 1/2 lb fresh tomatoes washed, dried, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup butter divided
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 small bunch cilantro washed and large stems removed
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Soak the almonds in 1 cup (240mL) of boiling water and set aside.
  • Add to a blender the yogurt, garlic, lemon juice, ginger, sweetener, garam masala, turmeric, coriander, cayenne pepper, as well as a bit of salt and pepper.
  • Puree the mixture until smooth, then pour into a medium sized mixing bowl. Save the dirty blender pitcher/jar and set aside. No need to clean it, just yet.
  • Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. Place the chicken bits into the bowl with the marinade and mix well, evenly coating the chicken with the marinade. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least an hour, but no more than overnight.
  • Strain the warm water off the almonds, discarding the water. Add the soaked almonds to the dirty blender, along with the tomatoes, tomato paste, and a bit of salt and pepper. Puree until smooth. Cover the blender and place in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook everything and the chicken has marinated to your desired timeframe.
  • Within about 30 minutes of mealtime, pre-heat a large sauté pan or skillet, over high heat. Pull your chicken from the refrigerator and have it close.
  • Add 1/4 cup (60mL) of the butter to the pan and swirl it around to coat the pan. Before the butter burns, sprinkle a relatively sparse, even layer of chicken along the bottom of the pan and allow it get some color (caramelization). Don’t crowd the pan, or else the pan will cool too much, and you’ll just steam the chicken. We want the pan hot. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper over the top, while it cooks. Once one side has browned, turn the pieces over and brown the other side. We’re really just adding color and toasting some of the spices. We’re not trying to cook these pieces through. Once the chicken bits are browned, pour them into a plate and set aside. If you have more chicken to brown, sparsely sprinkle them along the bottom of the pan and brown. Continue this process until all the chicken has been browned and is set aside.
  • Wipe out the pan and place it back on the stove over high heat.
  • Add the remaining 1/4 cup (60mL) butter to the pan and swirl it around. Add the cinnamon stick.
  • Pour the almond-tomato puree into the pan. Stir the mixture over high heat until the mixture thickens into a nice, thick paste, about 5 minutes. Stir regularly.
  • Add the browned chicken bits to the almond-tomato paste, stirring to coat with the paste. Season with a bit of salt and pepper. Turn the heat to low and cover the pan (if you don’t have a lid for your pan, you can place a baking tray over the top).
  • Allow the mixture to simmer and stew until the chicken is cooked through (about 5 more minutes, assuming your chicken is cut into bite sized pieces).
  • Once the chicken has cooked through, remove the lid, and stir in the cream. Taste the mixture and adjust seasoning with a bit more salt and pepper if it needs it. Bring the mixture up to a low simmer, stirring occasionally.
  • Once the mixture is simmering, serve topped with fresh sprigs of cilantro!