Like all countries, we in India also have certain dishes that touch the hearts of people all over the world. One of them is Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani, which is the subject of our article today. Many people think that butter chicken is as difficult to make as it is delicious, which is why there is no way to eat this dish without going to a restaurant. But after reading my article, you too can surprise the whole family by making restaurant-style butter chicken at home.
A restaurant-style butter chicken recipe is marinated chicken mixed with yogurt and spices. This main course masterpiece can be made in just over an hour and is perfect for 4 servings. In this step-by-step guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about making this delicious dish, including ingredient measurements, nutritional information, and everything else you need for a smooth cooking experience.
In this article, I will take you through each step of the process, how to marinate tender chicken to make a creamy and flavorful gravy. I will also provide recipe variations to suit different tastes and dietary restrictions.
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Why is it called Butter Chicken?
You’re probably wondering why it’s called “butter chicken.” The name itself conjures up images of rich, creamy flavors and a smooth, velvety texture that warms your palate with every bite. But what is behind the name?
Did you know that butter chicken didn’t always have this name? In fact, it was originally called “Murgh Makhani“. In Hindi, “murgh” means chicken, while “makhani” means butter. Butter chicken originated in India, and has an interesting story that begins in the 1950s. It is said that one day a chef in Delhi accidentally overcooked a piece of chicken. The meat was dry and tough, so he decided to preserve it. He cooked it in a thick, creamy tomato sauce with lots of butter and the result was so amazing that it became a hit.
In the end, the name “butter chicken” stuck because of the delicious combination of tender chicken with a rich buttery sauce. Its velvety texture, rich flavor, and perfect balance of spices make it one of India’s most beloved classic dishes. Over the years, butter chicken has become a popular dish across the world. It fascinates everyone with its unique taste.
Butter Chicken vs Chicken Tikka Masala
Let’s explore how butter chicken differs from another popular Indian dish, chicken tikka masala.
- Butter Chicken is known for its creamy tomato-based sauce rich in butter, cream, and a blend of aromatic spices. Butter chicken is usually marinated in yogurt with spices and then cooked in a traditional clay oven.
Chicken tikka masala on the other hand is known for its tangy and spicy flavor profile. Chicken tikka masala is made by marinating chicken in a mixture of curd, spices, and plenty of lemon juice. After marinating, chicken tikka masala is usually grilled or fried and then simmered in a tomato-based sauce.
- Butter chicken is orange because of the addition of tomatoes and cream. The sauce is smooth and rich, making it very comforting and delicious.
Chicken tikka masala is reddish in color and slightly thin because of the addition of curd and lemon juice.
- Both these dishes are delicious and popular, but they offer different taste experiences.
- Butter chicken / Murgh Makhani is creamy and rich, so it’s great for those who prefer a mild flavor with a little sweetness.
Chicken Tikka Masala is bold and spicy, so it’s for those who like a spicy kick with a bit of tang.
Butter Chicken vs Chicken Butter Masala
Let’s take a closer look at the differences between Murgh makhani and Chicken Butter masala. Although they both have the same base of tender chicken and rich creamy sauce. Butter Chicken and Chicken Butter Masala offer different spices and flavors to suit different tastes and appetites.
Murgh Makhani is known as the king of Indian curries. It is marinated in a rich tomato-based sauce enriched with a blend of spices. Butter chicken is usually marinated in a yogurt-garlic-garlic sauce that is rich and slightly sweet. It has a perfect balance of tang and creaminess that makes butter chicken a favorite for those who want a more comforting and indulgent meal.
Chicken Butter Masala is a variation of the same dish that takes a bolder approach and adds plenty of Indian spices to the dish. This variation usually contains a lot of chili powder, which adds a lot of heat to the dish. The gravy/sauce is still a creamy tomato-based sauce but is usually enriched with lots of spices like cumin, coriander, and turmeric. This spice adds a lot of complexity to the dish. Chicken Butter Masala is a dish that appeals to people who like their food to be bold and robust. This is a dish that is perfect for those who like to spice up their food.
Both murgh makhani and chicken butter masala are known for their comfort and satiety, but their slight differences in flavor make them perfect for different holidays and personal tastes. Whether you prefer butter chicken to be creamy and delicious or butter chicken to be spicy and savory, these mouth-watering dishes will transport you to the world of Indian cuisine.
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Marinating the Chicken: Infusing Flavor and Tenderness
Marinating your chicken is one of the most important steps in making an amazing Murgh Makhani. Not only does it add flavor to your chicken, but it also makes it tender and juicy.
- The first thing you want to do is start with pieces of chicken that are boneless, not skinless. This will help the marinade penetrate the meat better. Chicken breasts, thighs, and/or a combination of both can be used.
- Then, it’s time to get down to business. The butter chicken marinade is made with a combination of yogurt and lemon juice, garlic and ginger, and various spices. Yogurt softens the meat while giving it a creamy texture. The lemon juice gives the dish a fresh tangy flavor that balances the richness of all the other ingredients. Finally, garlic and ginger give butter chicken the aromatic and flavorful base that makes it irresistible.
- Once all the ingredients are mixed together, pour the marinade over the chicken pieces (or toss the chicken pieces in the marinade). Be sure to spread the marinade evenly over the chicken. Let the chicken marinate for a few hours or even overnight if you can. This will allow the flavors to fully soak in and soak into your meat.
- The curd in your marinade breaks down the proteins in your chicken, making it more tender and juicy. The acidity of lemon juice makes the meat more tender and adds flavor to your marinated chicken. You can grill, bake, or cook your marinated chicken in a cast iron pan. Whatever you choose, you can be sure that your marinade chicken will be full of flavor and super tender.
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Creating the Creamy and Aromatic Gravy: Actual Secret of Butter Chicken
This step is where the magic happens, as you learn the perfect blend of ingredients that will take your butter chicken to the next level.
- Finding the perfect balance of flavors is the key to a murgh makhani gravy that’s truly sensational. Start by simmering the mixture of finely chopped onion, minced garlic, and minced ginger in a big knob of butter and simmer until it releases its irresistible aroma and softens.
- As the onions turn golden brown and your kitchen fills with their sweet aroma, it’s time to add rich, warm, and fascinating spices to your butter chicken sauce. Traditionally, Indian spices are used to recreate the authentic taste of butter chicken, so don’t be afraid to play around with the amount of each spice. Add a pinch more or a pinch less of each spice until you find the consistency you like.
- You need to use cream to make butter chicken delicious and velvety. The tomato puree not only makes the butter chicken creamy but also balances out the strong spice base. When you combine the tomato puree with your prepared base, it becomes a creamy sauce that coats each piece of chicken in an irresistible coating.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer while soaking up the creamy essence of the chicken, allowing it to thicken as the flavors meld together to create the delicious butter chicken that has been wowing everyone since the 1950s.
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- 500 grams Chicken boneless (breast is recommended)
For Chicken Marination
- 1 tbsp Mustard Oil
- 1 tbsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
- 1 tbsp Ginger-garlic paste
- 1 tbsp Coriander Powder (dhania)
- 1 tsp Cumin powder (jeera)
- 1 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 tsp Kasoori Methi (Dry Fenugreek Leaves) crushed
- 1 tsp Dry Mango Powder / Amchoor Powder
- ½ tsp Black Salt
- 1 tsp Garam Masala powder
- 1 tbsp Mint Leaves finely chopped
- 1 tsp Salt
- ½ cup Hung Curd
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 nos. Live Charcoal small
- 1 tsp Ghee clarified butter
Marinate the Chicken:
- In a large mixing bowl, combine yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder, chili powder, garam masala, ground coriander, cumin powder, and salt.
- Add the chicken pieces, ensuring they are well-coated with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.
Cook the Chicken:
- Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.
- Add the marinated chicken and cook until browned and cooked through. Set aside.
Prepare the Sauce:
- In the same skillet, add another tablespoon of oil.
- Saute the chopped onions until golden brown.
- Add the tomato puree and tomato paste, cooking until the oil starts to separate from the mixture.
- Stir in the cooked chicken and simmer for 10 minutes.
Finish the Dish:
- Add the heavy cream, butter, and crushed kasuri methi to the skillet. Stir well and let it simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
- Adjust salt and spice levels according to taste.
Garnish and Serve:
- Garnish with fresh cilantro.
- Serve the butter chicken hot over steamed rice or with naan bread.
- For a spicier dish, increase the amount of chili powder or add a chopped green chili.
- If the sauce is too thick, you can adjust the consistency by adding a little water or chicken broth.
- Toasting the kasuri methi in a dry pan for a minute enhances its flavor before adding it to the dish.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 399Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 17gCholesterol: 132mgSodium: 1142mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 32g
Related: Paneer Tikka on Grill
Slow Cooker Method [Crockpot Butter Chicken]
If you are looking for an easier and simpler way to enjoy this delicious dish, the slow cooker method is the way to go. It’s ideal for busy days when you want to enjoy the delicious taste of butter chicken but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen cooking it. The slow cooker method is a convenient way to prepare butter chicken that requires minimal time. Using this method, you can let the slow cooker do all the work as you go about your day.
- To start, gather all the ingredients listed above including the marinated chicken, chopped onion, ginger garlic paste, and spice mix.
- Place all these ingredients in the slow cooker. Make sure the chicken is evenly coated with all the spices and ingredients.
- Set the slow cooker on low and let it cook for about 4 to 6 hours. This allows the chicken to be tender and juicy while allowing all the flavors to come together beautifully.
- The result will be a butter chicken full of rich, delicious flavor that will blow your mind.
- As the hours pass, the smell of this delicious dish will fill your room, and you will be excited for the time when you can finally enjoy it. When the time is right, take off the lid of your slow cooker and get ready to see what awaits you. The chicken will be tender and juicy, and the sauce will be thick and delicious.
- Carefully transfer the butter chicken to a serving dish and, as with the stovetop method, garnish with a handful of fresh coriander leaves. The vibrant green color adds a beautiful touch and enhances the taste of the dish.
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Exciting Recipe Variations: Catering to Different Preferences and Dietary Restrictions
- One of the easiest ways to make your murgh makhani healthier is to add a side of vegetables. Fry some bell peppers and carrots and then add to the sauce. Not only will this add a colorful flavor to your butter chicken, but it will also help increase its nutritional value. The freshness of the vegetables goes great with the rich, creamy sauce, creating a delicious combination of flavors and textures.
- If you have any dietary restrictions or are lactose intolerant, don’t worry, you can still enjoy the delicious taste of butter chicken with coconut milk. Coconut milk has a natural sweetness and a creamy consistency that adds a tropical flavor to butter chicken. The creamy texture of the coconut milk keeps the butter chicken’s velvety texture intact, while the coconut flavor adds some complexity to the flavor. (That’s why I personally don’t use it, but you can give it a try if you want.)
- You can also try different types of protein. For example, instead of plain chicken, try tofu or cheese, which are juicy pieces of meat that perfectly absorb the rich sauce. This is a great vegetarian alternative to the classic chicken. The flavor of the tofu or cheese also absorbs the spice of the butter chicken, so you don’t want to miss out on the amazing experience.
Apart from the above options, you can also experiment with other spices to create different flavor profiles. For example, you can add a little cinnamon or garlic spice to give your dish a warm, rich flavor. The combination of these spices with the rich, creamy sauce will transport you to a different world.
Related: Vegetarian Dinner Recipes
Expert Tips and Tricks: Elevating the Taste Profile and Presentation
Let’s take it to the next level with our expert chef’s tips and tricks to enhance the flavor profile and presentation of butter chicken. Whether you want to impress your dinner guests or enjoy a restaurant-level experience at home, these chef’s tricks will help you get the most out of your butter chicken.
- Allow the chicken to soak in the yogurt and spices for at least a few hours or overnight before cooking. This allows the flavors to soak into the meat, making it more tender and flavorful. The lemon juice in the marinade helps tenderize the chicken and adds some tang to the dish.
- Butter chicken sauce has a rich flavor, but if you want it to be richer, you can cook it for a longer time. This process of slow cooking allows the flavors to combine and create a richer, more complex flavor. You can try adding different spices to the sauce. For example, you can add a pinch of cinnamon to the sauce, or you can add a little garam masala to the sauce to give it a unique flavor that will impress your guests.
- When it comes to presentation, don’t forget to add some fresh herbs like cilantro and mint to your butter chicken. Not only will they add a splash of color, but they’ll also be a nice contrast to the rich sauce. To top off your butter chicken, add some roasted cashews or almonds for a crunchy finish.
- Try serving your butter chicken on a nice plate or platter. Place the chicken pieces neatly on the plate and top with a little more fresh cream. You can serve it with fragrant basmati rice and hot naan bread. Not only do they pair well with each other, but they add to the overall flavor.
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Q: Can I use boneless chicken instead of bone-in chicken for this recipe?
A: Butter chicken is traditionally made with boneless chicken breasts for extra flavor, but if you have boneless chicken on hand, you can definitely make butter chicken with it. However, boneless chicken cooks faster, so you may need to adjust your cooking time to ensure your murgh makhani is tender and juicy.
Q: Can I make this recipe vegetarian?
A: Yes, you can! If you prefer a vegetarian version of murgh makhani, simply substitute the chicken with paneer or tofu. Marinate the paneer or tofu in the same mixture as the chicken, then proceed with the recipe as usual. The rich and creamy sauce will beautifully complement the vegetarian proteins.
Q: What can I do if the gravy turns out too spicy?
A: If you’re not happy with the heat level of your butter chicken gravy, there are a few simple fixes you can make. For example, you can add a small amount of yogurt (or coconut milk) to soften the gravy. You can also add a little honey or sugar to balance the taste. Remember that it’s better to start adding more spices slowly than to add too much later. If you’re looking for a lighter gravy, you can always start with a little chili powder or other spices.
Q: Can I make butter chicken in advance?
A: Yes! Murgh Makhani actually tastes better the next day because the flavors have time to combine. You can cook it a day ahead and store it in a refrigerator-safe container. You can reheat it lightly on your stovetop or in your microwave before serving.
Q: Can I freeze Murgh Makhani?
A: Yes, Murgh Makhani freezes great. To freeze butter chicken, let it cool to room temperature, then transfer to a freezer-safe container or freezer bag. Remove any excess air before transferring to the freezer to avoid freezer burn To freeze Murgh Makhani, refrigerate butter chicken overnight, then reheat in your oven or microwave.
Q: What can I serve with butter chicken?
A: Butter chicken pairs beautifully with a variety of Indian breads like naan or roti. You can also serve it with steamed basmati rice or even plain boiled rice. Don’t forget to have some cooling side dishes, such as cucumber raita or a fresh salad, to balance out the richness of the dish.
Q: Can I make this recipe dairy-free or vegan?
A: Yes, you can adapt this recipe to be dairy-free or vegan. Instead of using butter, you can substitute it with a plant-based oil or vegan butter alternative. For the heavy cream, you can use coconut cream or cashew cream. Just make sure to adjust the seasoning accordingly and choose tofu or vegetables instead of chicken as your protein option.
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