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Butter Chicken - Murgh Makhani

Introduction & method

Butter chicken originated in Delhi in the 50s, and is definitely not a dish for the calorie conscious. Extravagant amounts of butter and cream are combined with tandoori-style chicken in a mildly spiced tomato sauce to create a luxurious dish of murgh makhani.

Butter Chicken - Murgh Makhani Recipe

Make the marinade

Combine all the marinade ingredients (except the lemon zest) in a bowl. Remove any skin and bones from the chicken and cut into bite-sized chunks. Stir the chicken into the marinade mixture and either cover the bowl with plastic film, or put the whole lot into a freezer bag - I prefer the bag method because you can easily squeeze the marinade around the meat.

Marinade the chicken

Place the marinade and chicken in the fridge and leave it overnight if you can. If you haven't allowed time for that (I always forget about overnight marinading), give it at least 3 hours.

Make the tomato sauce

Melt the butter on medium heat. Break the cinnamon into small pieces, crush the cardamoms, and add them, the cloves and the fenugreek seeds to the butter. Let them cook for a few minutes, add the ginger and garlic paste and cook for a few minutes more.

Then add the tomatoes. You might want to break down the tomatoes using a potato masher. Finely chop the almonds, add them to the sauce base and simmer for 20 minutes. At the end of this time, the butter should be separating out around the edge of the pan. This means the sauce is ready. If you want a smooth restaurant style sauce, whizz it in a blender and then pass it through a sieve, using the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible.

Cook the chicken

While the sauce is cooking, you can get on with the chicken. Preheat your oven to 230°C (446°F). Thread lumps of chicken onto skewers and place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook them for 20 minutes. If you can get some charring on the edges of the chicken, that's great.

Finish the butter chicken

Add any excess marinade to the sauce. When the chicken skewers are ready, use a fork to remove the chunks and add them to the sauce. Add the remaining garam masala, as many chilli flakes as you like, and most of the coriander, finely chopped. Taste the sauce - you might also want to add a pinch of salt.

Serve the butter chicken with naan or roti or pilau rice. Garnish with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro and the lemon zest.

The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of Butter Chicken - Murgh Makhani on YouTube.

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Ingredients & Info

 450 grams chicken breast or leg meat
 125 ml plain yogurt
 1 juice of lemon
 1 tsp red chilli powder
 1 tsp garam masala
 1 tsp turmeric
 1 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
 450 grams peeled plum tomatoes
 200 ml single cream
 100 grams unsalted butter
 1.5 tbsp ginger/garlic paste
 6 green cardamom pods
 4 whole cloves
 1 cinnamon stick
 1 tsp garam masala
 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
 1 tsp red chilli flakes
 11 almonds
 handful of fresh coriander / cilantro

US Customary/Imperial

Serves 4 
Prep time: 10 minutes.
Marinading time: 3 hours.
Cooking time: 40 minutes.
Total time: 4 hours.