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Butter Chicken – Murgh Makhani

butter chicken
Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken – Murgh Makhani

Indian Butter Chicken, or Murgh Makhani, is a very popular dish. It is made with Chicken simmered in a creamy, tomato sauce, seasoned with Garam Masala, Dried Fenugreek Leaves, (also known as Kasoori Methi), and other fragrant, savory spices. Substitute firm paneer cheese, or extra firm tofu and you have a vegetarian version.

Butter Chicken has a long history and has changed little over the years, although you’ll find many variations. We created our version to be true to the original recipe in flavor, yet adapted to our spices and tweaked to give you even more flavor than most you’ll find.

We serve it over Jasmine or Basmati Rice, with some Naan bread and an Apple Raisin Chutney to complete the flavor experience. Your side dishes might vary so you can adapt the meal to your guests and occasion.

Serves 4 to 6

For the Chicken Marinade:
2 Pounds Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Boneless, Skinless Thighs or a Combination. Cut into bite-sized pieces. Trim excess fat off the thighs.
½ Cup Greek Plain Yogurt. The whole milk version marinates better.
1 ½ Tablespoons Garlic, Minced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger, Finely Grated
2 Teaspoons Garam Masala
1 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Turmeric
1 Teaspoon Chile Powder. We use a New Mexico medium heat, but you can use hotter like cayenne or a mild chile, like New Mexico mild or guajillo.
1 Teaspoon of Sea Salt

For the sauce:
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Large Onion, Diced Fine
1 ½ Tablespoons Garlic, Minced
1 Tablespoon Fresh Ginger, Finely Grated
1 ½ Teaspoons Ground Cumin
1 ½ Teaspoons Garam Masala
1 Teaspoon Ground Coriander
14 Oz Can Tomato Puree
1 Teaspoon Red Chile Powder. Read above for our recommendations.
1 ¼ Teaspoons Sea Salt
1 Cup of Heavy Whipping Cream
1 Tablespoon Sugar
2 Teaspoons Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Kasoori Methi), Crushed

In a large mixing bowl, add the yogurt, minced garlic, grated ginger, Garam Masala, Cumin, Turmeric, Chile Powder and Sea Salt. Use a large spoon to combine. Add the chicken. Use the spoon to toss the chicken and coat all the pieces evenly. Cover, and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours. You can marinate the chicken overnight if you like to further tenderize and let the flavors develop.

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. When it starts to shimmer, add half of the chicken. You brown it in 2 or 3 batches so it’s not crowded in the pan. Cook about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer to a bowl and cover to keep warm.

Add the butter and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions to the pan. Cook about 5 minutes until they turn translucent and start to get golden brown. Don’t burn or overcook. Use a spatula and scrape up any brown bits while cooking.

Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a minute to get fragrant. Add the Garam Masala, cumin, and coriander. Cook another 30 seconds, stirring constantly so the spices don’t stick to the pan and burn.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the tomato puree, chile powder and sea salt. Cook for about 3 to 5 minutes until it heats thoroughly. Stir occasionally as the sauce thickens a bit more and the flavors combine.

Remove from the heat. Spoon the sauce into a large mixing bowl and use a stick blender and blend until fairly smooth. Add about ¼ cup of water to help blend smooth. You can also use a food processor. We like to leave a bit of texture.

Pour the sauce back into the skillet. Add the heavy cream, sugar and Dried Fenugreek Leaves. Stir to combine well. Transfer the chicken and juices back to the skillet. Cook another 10 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Serve over Jasmine or Basmati Rice, garnished with fresh parsley leaves or fresh cilantro leaves, and warm Naan bread.