Best Butter Chicken

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Butter-Chicken2

Butter Chicken is one of the recipes most frequently requested of me. It's one I make fairly often, so I don't know why it's taken me so long to post it!

This restaurant favourite is creamy, flavourful and mild on the spectrum of Indian curries. My version is simplified (read: doesn't require a plethora of spices that you'll buy and only need one-eighth of a teaspoon of) but doesn't suffer in the flavour department. This is definitely a lick-your-plate dinner.

Most butter chicken recipes require cooking the chicken separately first, then simmering in the sauce. I don't think this extra cooking step is necessarily crucial, especially for the sake of an easy weeknight dinner. The marinade, however, is important because the chicken breasts don't take long to cook, so they won't absorb much of the flavour from the sauce. If you are a planner, marinate the chicken overnight for maximum benefit (but even a half-hour to mingle with the spices will make a difference). And if you are a planner AND a perfectionist, then feel free to add an extra step and char the chicken cubes a bit on a grill/grill pan, or under a broiler for a few minutes before tossing them in the sauce.

Butter-Chicken1

One thing you don't want to rush is the caramelizing of the onions - it's a really important layer of flavour in any Indian curry, and especially in a sweeter one like this.

Wait until you see what I've done with the leftovers... (coming soon!)  UPDATE: here is how the leftovers were reincarnated! 

You might also like:

Saag Paneer Curry
Cashew Chicken Curry
Adarsh's Chicken 65 Curry
Black Chickpea Curry
Curried Beef Pot Pie
Samosa Pie

  • Duration
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  • 6 servingsServings

Ingredients

For chicken & marinade:

  • 2.2 lbs (1 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in 1" - 2" cubes
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

For sauce:

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 ½ cups chopped onion (about 2 medium-large)
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 cups diced no-salt-added canned tomatoes
  • ¾ cup heavy (35% or whipping) cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Chopped cilantro, to garnish (optional)

Preparation

For marinade:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a zip-top bag or shallow baking dish, massaging the marinade into the chicken. Let stand at room temperature while you prepare the sauce, or marinate in the fridge overnight.

For sauce:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add onions and slowly cook until golden, about 20 minutes, reducing heat if they are getting crispy or browning quickly.

  2. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in garam masala, paprika, cinnamon and salt; cook 1 minute more. Add tomatoes; cook 2 minutes, then add cream and carefully puree using an immersion blender (or standing blender, but do it in batches or the steam will blow the top off).

  3. Return sauce to saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add chicken to the sauce, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat until cooked through, about 12 minutes (remove a couple of pieces to make sure they are no longer pink inside). A gentle simmer is required to gently cook the breasts so they don't become tough, and you don't want to overcook them.

  4. Stir in butter, taste and add more salt to taste. Serve sprinkled with cilantro, if desired.