Today’s recipe is a homemade version of our favorite kind of Indian takeout – butter chicken, also known as murgh makhani – a creamy, tender dish with a tomato-based cream sauce and a kick of heat.
When you Google the term, there are 58 million results (84,000 if you use quotation marks), so, we realize, it’s not like the Internet world needs another version; but then, I suppose you could make the same argument about food blog (2 billion results and counting), and, here we are, still doing that.
Tim and I attended a workshop about work this weekend, I don’t mean it was for work, but rather, literally, it was about work as a concept in itself, and while we confronted, mostly, the philosophies behind our day jobs and why we do them and how they are, in small ways, mimicking the One who brings order out of chaos and beauty out of dust, we also thought about the work we do that isn’t paid for (or paid for by much).
Cleaning the kitchen. Vacuuming the house. Organizing the bathroom pantry. Repairing the car. Updating the blog. There could be a million (or, okay, 2 billion) other people doing the same thing, but it’s still meaningful.
It’s fulfilling right in our soul – because “whenever we bring order out of chaos, whenever we draw out creative potential, whenever we elaborate and ‘unfold’ creation beyond where it was when we found it, we are following God’s pattern of creative cultural development.'” (Tim Keller, Every Good Endeavor)
What’s great about butter chicken is that it’s basically gateway Indian food: There’s nothing terribly unusual about it, nothing besides the spices, perhaps, but even those (ginger? garlic? turmeric? chili powder?) aren’t all that strange.
It’s spicy, sure, but you control the heat: We tend to take an “add as we go” approach to dishes like these, adding a little hot factor at a time until we get it where we like. With that in mind, the recipe below is a guide, based on what we did, but you should feel free to adjust to your tastes.
This recipe is lightly adapted from The Iron You, where it was adapted from Mike’s friend Namrata, who adapted it from her mom, which, if nothing else, reminds me that the passing on of recipes is often a lot like the childhood game Telephone. Tender, spicy, and creamy, this dish pairs nicely with cooked grains like the tricolored quinoa we used and/or pitas or naan, either of which help scoop up all the extra sauce.Print
This butter chicken recipe, also known as murgh makhani is a creamy, tender dish with a tomato-based cream sauce and a kick of heat. Full of tomato and onion flavors and spiced up with everything in the cabinet, it’s a nice change to your ordinary bland flare.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 medium (533 g) onions, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (from about a 1-inch piece of ginger root)
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated garlic (from about 2 minced garlic cloves)
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more to taste
- 6 tablespoons strained tomatoes
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons full-fat yogurt
- 1 pound of boneless chicken thighs, cubed
- Fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Cooked rice or quinoa, for serving
- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When the pan is hot, add all the chopped onions; it will be a huge mound, and you might think, woah, that’s a lot of onions, but it’s okay.
- Let this mixture cook 5 to 6 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Stir in grated ginger, minced garlic, and all the spices (coriander, chili powder, turmeric, cayenne, salt); let this mixture sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, until spices are fragrant.
- Add tomatoes, cook another 3 to 5 minutes, stirring while mixture cooks, until everything is well incorporated and mixed together. Remove pan from heat.
- Transfer this mixture carefully to a Vitamix or food processor and pureé until smooth. Return to pan, turn heat to low, and add milk and chicken, stir together, and cover the pan. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until meat is cooked through.
- Once meat is cooked through, remove lid, lower heat, add yogurt, and let cook, uncovered, for another 10 minutes, until liquids reduce and meat softens.
- Taste and adjust for salt. Garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve with rice or quinoa (or your favorite grain).
Nutritional information does not include rice or quinoa.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Indian
Keywords: quick, easy, butter chicken, Indian, spiced
What about you? Did you love this recipe as much as we did? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and please rate this recipe!
P.S. If you liked this recipe, you might also like many of our other Indian dishes, such as:
- Rosewater Cardamom Lassi
- Speedy Chicken Tikka Masala
- Curried Cauliflower Fried Rice with Cashews and Coconut
- Hot Spiced Milk
Photos by Shanna Mallon, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on January 19th, 2014. Last updated: December 29, 2019 at 0:49 am.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.