Indian Butter Chicken
Lately I have become a huge fan of Indian cuisine. Everything from the simple, yet complex flavors of dishes like chana masala, curried lentils, or chicken tikka, and don’t even get me started on their breads such as garlic naan, chapati, or roti. Now when it comes to Indian food, I am no expert, however I have had many dishes from local establishments in Milwaukee, as well as looked at pretty much every item in a great Indian grocery store called Best Food Store. With that said, I do know my way around a bit, and I am pretty familiar with spices such as cardamon, chilies, peppercorns, cumin, tumeric, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, and garam masala to name a few. Unlike Thai cooking, for the most part, the thing I love about Indian curries is the earthiness of spices and the balance of spice and creaminess. So as I was looking at my last bowl of tomatoes from my early Fall harvest, I knew that I was going to use those in a dish known as Indian Butter Chicken, or Chicken Makhani. I knew my wife would love this one, and did she ever.
Let me start by saying there are probably many different ways to make this Indian butter chicken recipe, but this is my take on it, and it probably does not stem too far from an original recipe, with the exception that I do not have a tandoor oven (but I really wish I did). If you have a great recipe or addition, I would love to hear about it.
Let’s get started.
- 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- 1 1/2 tbsp garam masala
- 2 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp turmeric powder
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces
- 1 stick of unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 medium sized onions, diced
- 1 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
- 2 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- 1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
- 1 cup of diced tomatoes
- 2 whole Indian chilies, or 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
- 1 tsp salt, to taste
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- 1 1/2 cups of cream
- 1/4 cup of chopped almond
- 1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
- Cooked rice
- Naan or Khichiya Papad, optional
I know, seems like a lot of ingredients, and granted it is more than usual, but every one counts to make this outstanding dish.
Start by mixing the yogurt, lemon juice, garam masala, turmeric, and cumin in a mixing bowl. Once the spices are nicely incorporated, add the cut up chicken pieces. Cover and place in the refrigerator to marinate overnight.
The following day when you are ready to make the Indian butter chicken, remove the marinated chicken from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter to take some of the chill off of it while you prepare the remainder of the dish.
On medium heat, add a large skillet, or pot to the stove, then add the stick of butter. Let the butter melt until it gets nice and bubbly. Then add in your onions. Sweat the onions for about 7 minutes on medium heat, then add in the garlic, and ginger. Give that a nice stir and continue cooking and stirring until the onions begin to caramelize a bit, about another 10 minutes.
During this time, heat a smaller skillet on medium-low heat, and then add the cumin seeds and cinnamon stick. Cook until you get a nice fragrance, only a few minutes or so, then place this into the skillet with the onions.
Give another good stir, then toss in the chilies, tomatoes, and salt. Stir once more and cook for another 3 minutes or so.
Add the chicken and marinade, and stir to incorporate all of those ingredients. Take in the smell, it’s divine.
After a few minutes of cooking, add the chicken stock, and bring to boil, then cover and simmer for about 25 minutes.
Once the chicken is cooked through, add the cream, and almonds. Taste and season with any additional salt.
When you are ready to serve, add a bit of cooked rice to a bowl, and ladle in the Indian Butter Chicken. Garnish with some fresh cilantro and serve with a side of naan or khichiya papad (my family loves this stuff).
I think this was my wife’s first attempt at trying Indian butter chicken, and as she loves many of the Thai curries I whip up for her, she definitely fell in love (as did I) with this dish. It’s so warming and delicious that you will be wanting more and more of it. TRUST ME. Anyway, I hope you enjoy, and give this one a shot as it is a great entrance into Indian cuisine.