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Butter Chicken: A Flavorful Indian Delight

What Does Butter Chicken Taste Like?

Butter chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani, is a mouthwatering Indian dish featuring tender bite-sized pieces of boneless chicken thigh simmered in a creamy and exquisitely spiced tomato and cream sauce. This iconic curry is celebrated for its irresistible flavor profile that captivates the palate with every luscious bite.

The succulent chicken pieces are marinated in a tantalizing blend of spices and yogurt, infusing them with rich, aromatic notes of fresh ginger, garlic, lemon juice, turmeric, garam masala, chili powder (or cayenne pepper), and ground cumin. This marinade imparts a delightful zing and tenderness to the chicken, creating a perfect harmony of flavors.


The velvety smoothness of the tomato and cream-based sauce wraps the chicken pieces in a comforting embrace, ensuring each mouthful is a delight to savor. With its perfect balance of sweetness and spiciness, Butter Chicken offers a gentle kick of heat that is mild on the spice spectrum of Indian curries, making it a universally loved dish, even amongst the littlest eaters who adore its warm, cozy spices and tender chunks of chicken.

Why is it called Butter Chicken?

The fascinating history of Butter Chicken dates back to 1948 in Northern India, where it was created by the legendary Kundan Lal Gujral. The name “murgh makhani,” which translates to “chicken with butter,” perfectly encapsulates the essence of this delectable dish.

Traditionally, Butter Chicken is prepared in a buttery gravy enriched with cream, imparting a luxurious silkiness to the sauce. Many restaurants are known for using copious amounts of butter, which can sometimes leave diners feeling heavy and bloated due to the excess grease.

However, modern iterations of the recipe have evolved to offer a lighter approach. In our tested recipe, we opt for starting the sauce with ghee (clarified butter) or a combination of regular butter and oil, retaining the rich, buttery essence while reducing excessive greasiness. By adding cream towards the end of the cooking process, we achieve the desired richness without overwhelming heaviness, leaving diners feeling satisfied and content.

How to Make Butter Chicken: A Chef’s Recipe


Begin by preparing the Butter Chicken Marinade, where you combine a delightful mix of plain yogurt, lemon juice, turmeric powder, garam masala, chili powder (or cayenne pepper), ground cumin, freshly grated ginger, and crushed garlic. Allow the chicken thigh fillets to marinate in this heavenly blend for a minimum of 3 hours, with overnight marination offering the best results.


Cook Chicken: Heat ghee or butter (you can also use vegetable oil) in a large fry pan over high heat. Take the marinated chicken out of the marinade, allowing some to cling to the chicken for added flavor. Cook the chicken until it turns white all over, which takes approximately 3 minutes (browning is minimal due to the marinade).

Prepare the Sauce:

Add tomato passata (tomato puree), heavy cream, sugar, and salt to the pan, along with any remaining marinade left in the bowl. For 20 minutes, simmer the mixture on low heat to let the flavors meld. Do a taste test to adjust salt as needed.


Once the sauce is ready, garnish the Butter Chicken with fresh coriander/cilantro leaves (optional). Serve this delectable dish with your choice of basmati or white rice. The aroma and taste of this divine creation will leave your guests in awe.

Vegetable Side Options for an Indian Feast

While Indian cuisine doesn’t typically feature fresh side salads, you can add some greens to your meal with these Vegetable Side Options to complement your Butter Chicken:

Indian Tomato Salad with a refreshing minted yogurt dressing
Cucumber salad with lemon yogurt dressing, a refreshing option that pairs perfectly with curries
Simple sliced cucumber and wedges of tomato for a cool and refreshing side
South Indian Thoran-style Cabbage and Carrot Salad with Coconut, offering a delightful crunch and gentle spice
Everyday Cabbage Salad for a simpler yet flavorful cabbage salad option

In conclusion, Butter Chicken, or Murgh Makhani, is an iconic Indian curry that tantalizes the taste buds with its perfect blend of spices, creamy sauce, and succulent chicken. Its popularity knows no bounds, making it a favorite worldwide and a delightful addition to any Indian feast.

This cherished dish has a rich history and has evolved to offer a modern and lighter approach, ensuring a delectable dining experience without overwhelming heaviness. Preparing Butter Chicken at home is a rewarding adventure that will leave you astonished by the depth of flavor achieved with just a few simple ingredients.

So, why wait? Embark on a culinary journey and indulge in the sheer delight of Butter Chicken, savoring each delectable morsel as it carries you to the vibrant streets of India, where the aroma of spices dances in the air. Bon appétit!

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