Butter Chicken aka Chicken Makhani

Butter chicken aka Chicken Makhani has become one of my favorite Indian dishes, mostly because when I first introduced my American husband to Indian food, I had to introduce a curry that wasn’t too spicy. Whenever we would eat out at an Indian restaurant, Butter Chicken became our go to dish and almost a bi-weekly, sometimes weekly order from our favorite Indian restaurant.

Now that we are in a lockdown, I decided it was the perfect time to try to make butter chicken at home.

I was so happy that I already had all the ingredients needed to make butter chicken. And even better, it was a beautiful day out to fire up the grill and cook my chicken. I remember my mom using left over chicken from our beach barbecue to make butter chicken so this recipe is an inspiration from her yummy cooking. Butter Chicken is so creamy, smooth and tasty. I hope you try out my recipe!

Serves 3- 4

Chicken Marinade

  • 1.5 lbs Boneless Chicken breast or thighs
  • 2 tbsp Ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tbsp Red chili powder, preferably kashmiri Chili powder
  • Salt to taste (about 4 tsp)

Butter Chicken Gravy

  • 4 cups roughly slit roma tomatoes
  • 1 cup roughly chopped red onions
  • 8 tbsp butter
  • 6 tbsp cream
  • 1 cup water + 2 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp White Vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Ginger- garlic paste
  • 1/2 cup Cashew Nuts
  • 2 tsp dried kasoori methi leaves
  • 3 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp kashmiri chilli powder
  • Salt to taste (3 tsp or so)


Step 1: Marinate the chicken with ginger – garlic paste, chili powder, and salt and refrigerate for 20 – 30 minutes. The longer you marinate, the better. I left mine marinating for 3 hrs.

Step 2: Over a grill pan or outdoor grill, grill the chicken pieces about 6 minutes. Alternatively, you can also fry on a pan until cooked. I prefer to grill because I like to have the smoky charred taste in my butter chicken.
Once you have finished grilling the chicken, set them aside in a separate bowl and wait for it to cool. Shred the chicken into long bite size strips.

Step 3: If you used a pan to fry the chicken, use the same pan to add the chopped onions and 2 tbsp of butter. Fry till the onions are soft and then added the chopped tomatoes and the cashews. Add the water, ginger-garlic paste, salt, vinegar, sugar, garam masala powder and chili powder and give it a quick stir. Then let it simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until mushy.

BONUS: If you want to make this dish spicier (although butter chicken really is supposed to be a mild dish), you can add one more spoon of chili powder to the gravy mix.

Step 4: Pour the mushy mixture into a separate bowl or directly into a blender. Blend the mixture into a nice puree.

Step 5: Put the mixture through the strainer and into the same pan that was used to simmer the mixture in. Use a spoon to get as much as the gravy through the strainer. There should only be about a spoonful of skins and seeds remaining once all the gravy has gone through the strainer. I will say this was the hardest part for me because I didn’t do a great job blending it. And my arm hurt trying to hold the strained and spoon at the same time. I think next time, I’m going to just use a regular blender so I can get it smoother and it can go through the strainer better. Do not skip this step because this is how you get the smooth creamy texture of the curry.

Step 6: Add the chicken, remaining butter, the heavy cream and kasoori methi leaves and let it simmer for another 5 minutes or so. At this stage if you feel like your curry is too thick, you can add a little bit more water.

Step 7: Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with some cilantro and heavy cream. Enjoy with rice or naan.

BONUS: If you have any left over curry, you can use this time make indian style empanadas, eggrolls or naanchiladas. Check out my Naanchiladas recipe here!

2 thoughts on “Butter Chicken aka Chicken Makhani

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