The chances are, this recipe is nothing like the butter chicken you’ve ordered countless times from your local Indian takeaway. I too have ordered it more times than I care to admit, so I know what passes for butter chicken these days and most of it is pretty dismal. So much so, I have actually stopped ordering it altogether, for fear it would put me off Indian food completely.
As you might have gathered, I’m somewhat disillusioned about the state of butter chicken these days – especially when I consider what a wonderful dish it truly is! Unfortunately, this venerable dish has largely been reduced to being the poster-child for unimaginative and pedestrian Indian fare. When made well, however, butter chicken undoubtedly deserves its place amongst the great Indian classics. Rich, decadent and wonderfully spiced, this dish is a real winner and should feature in any Indian feast.
As tasty as it is, the real appeal of butter chicken is how easy it is to make! Primarily cooked in the oven, the dish frees up valuable stove space – a godsend when you’re trying to juggle up to six dishes on a 4 plate hob! Like most curries, butter chicken can also be made in advance and gently reheated before serving. In the case of butter chicken though, it should be placed under a grill to be heated through and lightly browned, rather than on a hob.
Note: Please do not ever be tempted to make butter chicken with anything other than chicken thighs, especially not breast meat, which will come out completely dry and taste terrible.
Makhani Murgh (Butter Chicken): Serves 4
- 800g skinned chicken thighs (boneless), cut into bite-sized pieces
- 4 tbsp. ghee
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp. fresh coriander, finely chopped
- 4 tbsp. thick cream
- 1/2 cup plain yoghurt
- 3cm fresh ginger, peeled & grated
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 50g finely ground almonds
- 1/2 to 1 tsp. chilli powder
- 1 tsp. garam masala
- 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 4 to 6 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 x tin chopped tomatoes
- Combine all the marinate ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the prepared chicken and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl and marinate for at least 4 hours in the fridge, but preferably overnight
- Remove the marinated chicken at least an hour before cooking
- Pre-heat your oven to 180°C
- Heat the ghee in a wok or deep saucepan. Add the chopped onions and fry over a medium heat until truly golden (be careful not to burn them)
- Increase the heat slightly and add the chicken (marinate and all). Sauté for 5 minutes. Add the chopped coriander, mix and then place the chicken into a shallow baking dish. Pour over the cream and lightly mix with a fork
- Cover the dish with some tinfoil and bake in the oven for an hour. Halfway through, remove the foil and continue to bake until the oil separates and the chicken is lightly brown on top
- Spoon off any excess oil and then give the dish a good stir before serving