Another curry house classic, Murgh Makhani or Butter Chicken Curry Recipe is one of the most popular of South Asian curries in the world alongside Chicken Balti ,
Madras Chicken and
Chicken Tikka Masala .

This curry has evolved from the Punjabi Tandoori cuisine tradition. The chicken is therefore marinated in tandoori masala and grilled or pan seared first till juicy. Then it is added to the rich, redolent and creamy curry. It is one of the milder curries, maybe that’s why it appeals to the global palate more.

Usually the butter chicken curry served at restaurants is too sweet and heavy for my taste. I make mine without adding any sugar or heavy cream to it. The sweetness comes from caramelising the puréed tomatoes and it is just an undertone that blends well with the entire flavour. For creaminess I blend almonds or cashews with a little milk.

The advantage of making this at home is that you stay in control of the balance of sweet and sour in the curry, and can also keep in check the calories added from heavy cream. Of course if you are feeling extra indulgent, you can top it with some cream before serving but I would strongly recommend that you enjoy the true flavours of spices toasted in butter in Murgh Makhani without the sugar and cream camouflaging them.

In my Butter Chicken Curry Recipe I always remove the skins of tomatoes to make the curry as silky smooth as possible. To simplify steps and cut down on prep time, I blanch tomatoes and almonds together to get rid of their skins. Then blend the tomatoes, almonds and milk together which also adds to the creaminess of the dish.

You can use the same recipe to make the vegetarian version. Just replace chicken with paneer cheese cubes or mushrooms.


For Chicken Marinade:

1/2 kg boneless chicken
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoons garlic paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup yogurt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon red chilli powder or Kashmiri chilli powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For Butter Chicken Curry:

4 ripe tomatoes
1/2 cup skinned almonds or raw cashews
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 stick cinnamon
2 black cardamoms
seeds from 4 green cardamoms
2 cloves
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon red chilli powder or Kashmiri chilli powder
salt to taste
Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing

This Is What You Do:

Cut boneless chicken into bite size cubes.

Add yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, lemon juice, turmeric, chilli powder, black pepper, cumin and salt into a big mixing bowl. Add chicken and mix to coat chicken pieces with the marinade. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes. It’s better to do this step ahead and leave the chicken to marinate overnight.

Add water to a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Make an X on the bottom of your tomatoes and throw them into the pot of boiling water with almonds for no more than a minute or two. Fish the tomatoes and almonds out with a slotted spoon. Save some of this water to add to the curry later on.

When cool enough to handle, peel away the skin from tomatoes and gently pinch the almonds to pop them out of their skins.

Add tomatoes, almonds/cashews and milk to the food processor. Blend to a creamy, smooth purée.

Heat butter in a deep pan. Add cinnamon, black cardamom, green cardamom seeds, fenugreek seeds and cloves to the butter. Fry for a few seconds or till aromatic. Add ginger, garlic paste and continue to sauté for another few seconds.

Add the tomato and almond purée to the pan. Add salt, red chilli powder, tomato ketchup and garam masala. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, till most of the liquid dries out and the masala doesn’t stick to pan anymore.

Add some of the water that we saved from boiling tomatoes to get the required consistency of the curry. I keep mine like cream of tomato soup.

Heat a grill, griddle or frying pan on medium high heat. Lightly grease it. Remove chicken pieces from the marinade and place on the hot grill or pan. Cook till almost done. Don’t cook all the way because they have to go and simmer in the curry for 5 minutes too. If you will completely cook them on the grill, they won’t stay juicy and will get over cooked and tough in the curry.

Add the chicken pieces to the curry, cover the pan and simmer for 5 minutes on medium low heat.

Garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve hot with naan or rice.

Serves 4

4 Replies to “Murgh Makhani, Butter Chicken Curry Recipe”

    1. Fatima, yogurt is used in the marinade. Then we take out the chicken pieces from the marinade to grill or pan fry.

    1. I’ll try my best to come up with the video soon, Willian. Meanwhile just a tip; don’t cook it on medium low heat first few minutes covered. Then uncover and crisp it up on medium heat.

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