I finally “cracked” the secret code to an amazing Indian butter chicken curry, that tastes just like our local London takeout, but cheaper and less calorific! You will want this recipe!
For a full Indian dinner serve with fluffy basmati rice and this Red Lentil Dal.
I’ve written so much about our love for Indian food. It is our GO TO when a little of extra comfort is needed. We always call in for an order of curry when we come home after travelling.
It’s our tradition. Sitting down to our dinner table with an array of chicken, lamb and vegetarian curries with poppadoms, chapatis and pickles in front of us just signals HOME.
So it’s no surprise I’ve been slowly working through a list of our favourites for slightly healthier, homemade versions. Chicken Korma is a family’s favourite, so I had to re-create it.
My son prefers this vegetarian curry Aloo Gobi. For him I made an easy, homemade version called Simplified Cauliflower and Potato Curry. Some recipes are less authentic but nonetheless delicious like this Indian Kofta Curry (Meatball Curry).
As tasty as the takeout menus could be, we all agree they are laden with far too many calories! Today I am sharing my pièce de résistance…Butter Chicken Curry.
Butter Chicken Recipe
The origin of butter chicken aka murgh makhani is indeed in India, unlike the other popular curry Tikka Masala, which was invented in Britain. The famous curry came to be out of a need to use up leftover chicken. So grilled tandoori chicken got mixed with some tomato curry, butter and cream and a star was born.
Butter chicken curry was the first curry my kids agreed on trying and eating thanks to school dinners! For the longest time it was the only curry they would eat.
Soon the whole family fell in love with its mild, creamy and insanely flavourful taste to the point we started asking for two orders of butter chicken from our local takeaway!
How to Make Authentic Butter Chicken at Home
Seeing how much my family enjoyed the butter chicken I’ve wanted to recreate the familiar taste at home for ages but I knew it was not going to be easy.
The challenge came from a well known fact that butter chicken curry is made with leftover tandoori chicken pieces, and I was just not willing to faff around with a two-stage recipe at home. I wanted a quick butter chicken!!
The answer came from an old friend, who lived in India for years. She shared with me her secret and it is tandoori masala spice mix!! It imparts the unmistakingly delicious flavour of tandoori chicken without the extra pain of grilling the chicken first.
I didn’t add butter to my recipe but a generous splash of heavy/double cream, which created the same creamy texture but didn’t taste quite as heavy.
I’ve done a couple of tests on my family before I felt ready to share this recipe with you and here is the final version. I am so pleased with the result.
I don’t claim that this recipe tastes as authentic as in India. But I will assure you that it tastes exactly like our London takeaway butter chicken curry, and that is good enough for me!
Plus the entire recipe comes together in under an hour and who doesn’t like a quick chicken curry!
What to serve with it
If you would like to add a few other things to your Butter Chicken Curry for a more exciting Indian dinner experience I would recommend making my Chickpea and Butternut Squash Curry. Those two curries go so well together!
Those are the dishes I made last night for our small dinner party and it went down a storm!
For more takeaway favourites check out:
This recipe was originally published in 04/2018. Updated and republished in 04/2020.
- 1 lbs chicken breasts cubed
- 4 tbsp tandoori masala spice mix
- 1 cup/250 ml natural yogurt plain
- 2 tbsp ghee or vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tbsp ginger paste or grated ginger
- 1 tsp coriander
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup/125 ml water
- ½ cup/125 ml whipping cream/double cream
- 1 tbsp fresh cilantro chopped
- In a medium bowl mix the yogurt with the tandoori masala spice mix and add cubed chicken breasts. Marinade for at least 3 hours or overnight.
- In a deep pan heat the ghee or oil and fry the chopped onion, garlic and ginger together over low heat for 10 minutes.
- Add the chicken with the marinade to the pan, add the coriander and turmeric, tomato paste and water, stir to combine, then turn the heat up to medium and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes covered.
- Add the double cream, stir and cook uncovered for 10 minutes longer until the sauce is thick and desired consistency. Add salt if needed. (There is salt in the tandoori masala spice mix, so only add extra salt if necessary.)
- Serve with fresh cilantro and basmati rice.