Butter Chicken/ Murgh Makhani

Chicken cooked in a spiced tomato gravy

Butter-Chicken UK curry lovers can’t seem to get enough of Chicken Tikka Masala; the one thing that gets the appetite going for most Indians undoubtedly has to be ‘Butter Chicken’ or Murgh Makhani.

Most Mughlai and Punjabi restaurants will serve you a plate of this goodness as do dhabas and street vendors. I could devour into an entire dish all by myself. Soft roomali rotis, naan or flaky parathas scooping up the thick spiced gravy of butter chicken along with succulent morsels of tandoori chicken with charred edges brings sheer delight with every mouthful. The heat/ spice of the dish combines with the rich gravy and slight sweetness that make it very hard to resist.

With most dishes that have fond memories it’s the taste that lingers on even years later. Cooking Butter Chicken at home has always for me been about getting the flavours just right and like I knew they should taste. This recipe is one that I can say is an absolute hit every single time with family and friends. There’s no calorie counting here I can tell you that now! There’s a copious quantity of butter (after all it is butter chicken!), cream and honey. But I assure you it’s worth every spoonful.

The chicken is marinated & grilled before adding it to the makhani sauce. Tandoori chicken pieces added to the sauce enhance the flavour of the overall dish. Follow my recipe for Tandoori Chicken and can even be done a few hours in advance. Once the chicken is cooked set aside and proceed to make the makhani sauce below. Fenugreek leaf powder is available at Asian stores or you can even grind dried fenugreek leaves.

Method

  1. Heat a heavy bottom sauce pan and add the butter. Add green cardamom, cinnamon stick and cloves. Fry for 20 seconds, add the onions and sauté for 5-7 mins on medium heat until they take on a light brown colour.

  2. Add the grated ginger and slit green chillies. Fry for a further minutes and add the chilli powder, garam masala powder along with the tomato puree. Stir well and cook for a couple of minutes. Now gradually add the double cream stirring continuously to mix all the spices with the cream. Simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes.Butter Chicken (3)

  3. At this stage add a splash of water if the curry is too thick. Stir in the honey and the fenugreek powder. Season to taste. Now add the cooked chicken pieces and simmer the curry on a low heat for 8-10 minutes. Garnish with coriander and serve with roti or paratha.

  • http://www.canbebribedwithfood.com Carla

    I’m completely obsessed with Butter Chicken and really miss not being able to buy it her often. The best I’ve ever had was in Nairobi a few years ago and since then I have been trying recipe after recipe to try and recreate it but to no avail.

    I look forward to trying yours now!

  • Patrick Keville

    Cooked this tonight for myself and my wife. Absolutely delicious. Looking forward to trying a few more of your recipes.

  • Chris Cheesman

    I have made this recipe a few times now and it goes down extremely well with family and friends.

  • Simon

    This is more or less how I make Makhani myself. But a pro chef from Punjab said that traditionally they do not add onion to the makhani gravy. Great recipe, I had to water down the tomato pure/paste (half part tomato pure and half part water). If it’s not watered down the whole dish will taste like its tainted with tomato pure.

    • maunika

      Thank you. As mentioned in the recipe you can add a splash of water to make a thinner gravy. Also the cream helps make for a rich curry whilst diluting the tomato paste.

  • AZA

    Hi, what kind of chicken preparation would be best for this dish and how much chicken please? thanks!

    • maunika

      Hi, If you read the post theer is a link to my tandoori chicken recipe with all the measurements/ quantities etc. Maunika.

  • http://www.nellyscupcakes.co.uk Nelly Ritchie

    I just have to try this! It looks so delicious.
    I *may* have just gone to the Spicery and ordered some spices to give it a go! Will let you know how I get on.

  • Jane

    Had this for supper tonight. Really enjoyed it …… Although 1/2 tbsp of honey was sweet enough for me.

  • Aruna

    I want to try this dish, but am wondering how you got the color without adding food coloring?

    Also i am in the US, so dont get Double Cream, can i use Heavy Cream instead?

    • maunika

      Hi Aruna, Good quality tomato puree will give you that vibrant colour also the marinade in the chicken tikka pieces will enhance it. Yes of course you can substitute double cream for heavy cream. Hope you like it!

  • Steve wright

    I’ve Never cooked I Don’t cook I can’t cook ,
    Tried this and it was blooming easy and
    Tasty I surprised myself, ps I never comment
    On “threads” but this deserved it

    • maunika

      Thank you so much! Very glad you enjoyed it. Maunika.

  • Nuurol

    What else can I use to substitude Double Cream? Can I use coconut cream?

    • maunika

      Your looking for a rich consistency and traditional butter chicken doesn’t include coconut although you can of course make it with single cream too.

  • Zainu

    This turned out beyond delicious!!…. Thank you for sharing!

  • Fana

    hello, I noticed that your recipe does not call for fresh tomatoes that needs to be rendered down as shown in other recipes. Will this change the flavours of the dish or will adding only tomato puree suffice?

    • maunika

      Tomato puree does add the required colour, thickens the gravy and ofcourse is more of a concentrated alternative to fresh tomatoes. Yes it will suffice. Enjoy!

  • Alistair

    Just tried your recipe, loved it and will definitely be making more often, thanks Maunika.

  • Angela

    Hey Maunika,

    I watched your demonstration of this butter chicken recipe with Jamie on food tube and would love to give it a go!

    A few questions though,
    1. Is it ok to swap whole cloves with ground clove because I have ground one in my pantry already but not whole ones? I meant, would it taste differently?
    2. Cardamom pods? I have cardamom in my pantry and I am not sure where I can get the pods from. Would it make a huge difference?

    Thank you!!

    • maunika

      Hi Angela, ground clove powder can be quite overpowering for this dish and the same with ground cardamom. The whole spices lend an aromatic flavour to the curry. Most are available in supermarkets or even online. You can check the diary pages of the website for a spice guide with details of stores where you can find the spices.

  • Sue Maxwell

    I was looking for a good butter chicken recipe and saw your demonstration on Jamie’s food tube. I’ve just made it and it is absolutely devine! I will definitely be making this again.

  • Jennifer

    TIP: After watching the video of Maunika cook this dish with Jamie Oliver on Youtube, I realized that the tomato puree in the recipe is actually what Americans consider to be tomato paste. TOMATO PUREE = TOMATO PASTE.

    Made this for dinner tonight and it was the best Indian dish I have made (right next to my mother-in-law’s chicken biryani!). My husband loved this dish and he doesn’t even like butter chicken! Will be making this again and again. Thanks Maunika!

  • http://Maunikagowardhan.co.uk Nat

    I made this using the canned tomato paste we have here in america and added almost 2/3 cup of cream. The tomato paste was very over-powering and the dish turned out sour. Did you use crushed tomatoes as I don’t understand how the taste could vary so much.

    • maunika

      Thanks for your comment! The recipe uses 3 tbsp. of Tomato puree to thicken and add colour to the curry. You might want to check the strength of the canned paste your using if its too strong/ tart that might be far too overpowering for the dish. The measurements for the cream are also in the recipe. So hopefully if you try it again it should turn out great.

  • Anna

    I am very much looking forward to making this lovely dish for 6 people this weekend. How many people does your recipe serve so I know how much to multiply by? Thank you

    • maunika

      Thank you for your enquiry. This recipe serves between 3-4 people. So its easily multiplied to feed 6. Enjoy!

  • Christian Jørgensen

    Interesting. This is the first butter chicken recipe I have come across that uses tomato puré from a can instead freshly puréd tomatoes. Must make quite the difference in taste.

    I guess instead of watering it down, one could just thin the gravy with freshly puréd tomatoes? Or is there a specific reason you don’t use fresh tomatoes in the dish?

    • maunika

      Thank you for your comments. Tomato puree thickens the gravy and also adds the required colour for butter chicken. If you get a really good colour from fresh tomatoes you can use them instead.

  • Shweta

    Hi maunika.. I came across this recipe through Jamie’s food tube videos and now follow you on Instagram. I have always cooked butter chicken with fresh tomatoes where I fry them first then grind so that it retains the colour… For the first time I followed your method of using purée.. It turned out lovely, so thank you for sharing. I think I added a lot of cream so the colour faded away from the one in your pic.. But overall it’s something that I would def try again.

  • kangna

    Hi Maunika!
    I came to know about you from instagram. Then I tried murg tikka and butter chicken. It was so simple and amazing-ly delicious. Thankyou for sharing your wonderful recipes and making cooking more exciting and easy.

  • Kolsuma

    Hi, please can you give me the full recipe for the Butter Chicken. I have never made a curry before and I would to give it a try. I have seen the recipe for the sauce but I don’t know how much chicken thighs to use and the actual recipe for the chicken marinade. Thank you. :)

  • Csoanes

    Having eaten Butter Chicken for years, we have found it to be perfect perhaps twice in restaurants and have been trying in vain to find a perfect recipe. This is phenomenal. We BBQ’d the chicken on stakes instead of using the oven and my Indian husband was almost silent in reverence the whole meal ha-ha. Thank you!!! Recommend doubling the curry and laping it up with Naan!

  • Lindsey

    Hi, I made your butter chicken recipe last year and it was amazing. I’m making it again today for a few friends but can’t remember how much it made.. How many was it intended to serve?

    • maunika

      Its great for 4 so you can easily double up the portions. Hope your friends enjoy it!

  • Ali

    Can’t wait to try this recipe. What kind of chillis do you use please?

  • Leya

    Hi Maunika, just made this after watching you on Jamies’. It turned out to be the BEST murg makhani I have ever made, and so authentic. Thanks heaps!!!

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Thank you and so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Felicity

    Hi Maunika,
    This looks amazing. I would love to try it, but unfortunately I have to be very careful about eating chilli as my stomach can’t handle it (gastritis). I saw the option to use mild paprika, but wondering if I could also get away with leaving the green chilli out completely?
    Also can you please confirm if the tomato puree you’ve mentioned is what us Aussies call puree (simply tomatoes put through a blender) or paste (concentrated and saltier)? Thank you very much.

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Yes you can leave the chillies out if you prefer. The paste is thicker and makes the curry richer but if you get good quality tomatoes putting them through a blender and using them would be ideal. Enjoy!

  • Nad

    Hi
    i want To know what sort of cream Y ou use
    double cream or coconut cream?
    thanks

    • Katie Egervari

      35-39% cream. I think coconut cream would give it a totally different taste, and would start venturing off into other curry types. There isn’t supposed to be a coconut flavour in this dish.

  • Dwayne Coker

    Just made this recipe. It is an exceptionally good recipe.

  • Jerome Garneau

    Can I replace heavy cream by plain greek yogourt ?

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      You can either use double cream or single cream which will give it a luscious rich gravy. Yoghurt isnt normally used in a dish like this and has touch of sourness which isnt required in Butter chicken. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  • Aswathy Nair

    Hi Maunika, a Big Thank You for posting this recipe! I made this yesterday for my family and guests. It came out really well and was yummy. Can I double the ingredients if I am making for a larger party?

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      How fab! So lovely to hear that. And I hope they enjoyed it too. Yes you can double them although add ground spices as per taste rather than just doubling. Enjoy!

  • Katie Egervari

    Hi Maunika!

    If I had to make this recipe 4x as large to feed many people, would I just quadruple all of the ingredients and perhaps adjust some cooking times here and there? Would it come out the same in theory, or would I run into problems? I was going to use my Le Creuset 5.2L French Oven as the cooking vessel.

    I made your recipe today – without the fenogreek powder (I only have the seeds and cannot buy the actual leaves) and substituting 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne and 3/4 teaspoon of paprika for the chili powder. It was still delicious.

    Thanks!

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      This looks wonderful Katie! So glad you have enjoyed it and I hope your guests enjoyed it too. Thank you again for your comments and the delicious photo. Maunika x

      • Katie Egervari

        Hi Maunika ☺ If I were to scale this recipe so that I made 4x the quantities of sauce, do I just quadruple all of the ingredients? What would your recommendations be for whole spices? And then the chili pepper and garam masala afterwards?

        Thanks!

        • Katie Egervari

          For anyone wondering, I simply did x4 for everything, and it actually worked out totally fine. It was so close to the regular recipe that it would be difficult to make the small adjustments to get it to taste the same as the regular recipe. People at the office all said it was the best butter chicken they ever had, trumping all restaurants in Toronto that they’ve tried. So hats off to your recipe!

      • Katie Egervari

        Hi Maunika,

        the reason I am asking is that I have to make 4x the quantities of your most delicious dish on the 30th of March for many people at work (including some execs and the CEO), and I won’t really have the ability to make it 2 or 4 times individually – the sauce must be made in one batch. The office only has 1 induction burner that can accomodate my french oven.

        If I were quadruple everything in the recipe, will 20 cardamom pods and 16 cloves still work out well if it were made in a Creuset 5.3L French Oven?. And what about 4 teaspoons of chilli powder? There isn’t really a lot of information on-line on how to scale Indian recipes in general, so I’m worried the lunch will be a disaster, despite the fact that I know how to make this dish as the current listed recipe.

        If you can please offer some good advice that will help make my lunch successful, I’d really appreciate it. It would really be a bummer if the dish tasted drastically different at 4x compared to how it would be normally. I ideally want it to be similar.

        At this point, I guess I’m just going to have to test it at home, and make a bunch of sauce that I will mostly throw out just to see what happens unless you can give me some rough guide as to how many whole spices and target amounts of ground spices to use. I hope you can help.

        Thanks Maunika.

        Katie

  • David Rogers

    Just wanted to say I decided to make this yesterday for the 1st time and even bbq’d the chicken tikka, I can honestly say it was without a shadow of a doubt the best curry dish I have ever tasted… I am excited already about making it again & again.
    What a brilliant website you have thank you 👍

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Thank you thank you! This is so wonderful to hear:)

  • Sarah

    Hi,I just asked you for this recipe and now I’ve found it lol.
    I shall be trying it soon thank you for your continuous authentic recipes .

  • Deepthi Ranjith

    Hi Maunika, I made this yest night along with the tandoori chicken. It turned out really good and was an absolute hit. Better than any butter chicken we have eaten from restaurants. Now this is gonna be one of my signature dishes for friends and family. Thank you so much !! :)

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Yay! Thank you for your comments and happy to hear this:)

  • Luke Banchy

    Is this essentially the same as Chicken Tikka Masala? I’ve never understood the difference. At any rate, great recipe!

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Thanks! Similar to it:)

      • Luke Banchy

        Any chance you’re in the mood to make a Tikka Masala recipe? :)

  • Beena

    I have never made a better butter chicken! This was delicious but my sauce was a bit too thick even though I added a bit of water. Next time shall I add more water or more cream? I want it to be saucy not watery.

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Yes ofcourse you could thin it out either with a little bit of water. If you find cream is too rich you can also opt for milk instead of cream if you prefer.

  • nara89

    Dear Maunika,

    thanks a lot for this great recipe. You are really a big Inspiration for me. For the butter chicken I used more Tomatopuree and cream in order to get more Sauce- and 1 tsp. Honey was enough for my taste.
    When will your book appear in german language?
    Best regards from a German Fan :-)

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      So lovely to hear you enjoyed it!:)

  • Janette Osman

    I must be blind…. I can’t see anywhere in the recipe as to how much chicken I need!

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      The link to the Tandoori chicken is in the introduction where a separate recipe is listed on the website for it including a full list of ingredients and cooking instructions for the chicken. This recipe is for the sauce once the chicken has been cooked. Hope you enjoy it!:)

  • Weezey40

    Oh my goodness what a delicious curry! The flavour is perfect with a little bit of heat to follow. So glad I had a little extra for lunch today 😄 With Maunika’s Naan bread just delicious.

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      So FAB to hear this! x

  • Seth

    I really enjoy your recipes. Will your book be available in the US soon?

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Yes it will:)

  • John Sinclair

    Would like to make butter chicken but the idea of adding double cream is out of the question as cream doesn’t agree with my wife makes her ill. What are the alternatives please .

    • Maunika Gowardhan

      Hi John, You could add yoghurt instead if you prefer just make sure to whisk it well before adding. Enjoy!

  • Dadlani

    The above recipe doesn’t have the portion of chicken to be used. Is it 1 kg?

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