Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani)

So are you guys ready for Valentine’s Day this week? I feel like it’s everywhere. And I haven’t even been down the seasonal aisle at Target yet. (Okay, I’ll be honest, if I had been down that aisle, it would have been the one at Walmart not Target. Because I’m super classy.)

IMG_0973Eric and I went on a Valentine’s date this weekend to avoid the crowds on Thursday. We decided to do no gifts this year, but Eric stopped at a cute little garden shop on the way to our babysitter’s place and told me to pick out a plant. He knows me well. Don’t get me chocolates on Valentine’s Day. Get me a new friend. (Aren’t you guys friends with your plants?) One of my plants died a while back (after weeks of neglect. I guess I’m not a very good friend. I looked up at that plant from my position on the couch several times while I had the flu and thought “I need to water that plant…later.”) Anyway, we picked out some awesome plants and now I feel like I live in a magazine. Even though my lamps don’t necessarily match my curtains and there are toys littering the floor. Plants just make you feel good.

IMG_0955This Indian dish will make you feel good too. My brother Nathan just about choked when I told him that this recipe calls for no butter. That’s right…there is no butter in this Butter Chicken. Seems kind of counter-intuitive, I know. Puja, the lovely author over at US Masala, says that it’s called Butter Chicken because the sauce is creamy like butter. I don’t care how you want to describe it, all I know is that it is food from heaven.

There are just about as many recipes out there for Butter Chicken as there are recipes for spaghetti sauce. I think it’s one of those dishes that is best adapted to taste, so go wild. I like this recipe because it doesn’t call for heavy cream, but you really don’t miss it. I love it when you can taste heavy cream that’s not actually there. Makes me feel pretty good about myself.

Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani)


Source: US Masala

Makes 4 servings

For the marinade:

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
1 1/2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste (fresh will work great too!)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon Tandoori masala
2 tablespoons ghee or oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breasts

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon oil
1 small onion, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger-garlic paste (or fresh!)
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 8-oz can tomato sauce, or 1 cup diced tomatoes, pureed
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Tandoori masala
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon Garam masala
1/4 cup water
2/3 cup evaporated milk or regular milk
1 teaspoon kasoori methi (fenugreek)
1/4 teaspoon sugar
cilantro, to garnish

In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade except the chicken. Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and combine with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours. The longer the better.

To cook in the oven: Preheat oven to 425˚F. Thread the chicken onto pre-soaked bamboo skewers and place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (or a broiling pan). Bake until the chicken is done, turning the skewers every 5 minutes or so. It shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes total.

To cook on the stove: Lightly grease a large skillet. Add the chicken and cook until just barely done, making sure you don’t stir too often. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes or so. Set aside.

In another large skillet, heat the tablespoon of oil on medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add the ginger-garlic paste, salt, and turmeric, and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce, paprika, Tandoori masala, and coriander, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken and garam masala and combine.

Add 1/4 cup water and simmer for a couple minutes. Add milk and kasoori methi and bring to a boil. Add more water if you want a smoother sauce; I actually added some of the leftover marinade. Remove from heat and add sugar and chopped cilantro, or add the cilantro individually.

Serve with hot rice, naan, or roti.

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4 thoughts on “Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani)

  1. Pingback: Valentine’s Day Round Up | The Food Charlatan

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