Indian Butter Chicken




  • 8 large boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into bite sized pieces
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil
  • 3 tsp + 4 tbsp garam masala
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • 6 + 1 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 large white onion diced
  • 6 large ripe tomatoes, diced (about 4 cups or use 3 cups canned tomatoes)
  • 4 seeded green chilies chopped, if green chilies are not available, substitute crushed red chili paste or cayenne pepper to taste
  • ½ cup plain, unsweetened yogurt
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp honey, more or less to taste
  • ½ cup cream
  1. I use boneless skinless chicken thighs in this recipe, which I cut into bite-sized pieces because it’s faster than using whole chicken pieces and because I like to simmer the chicken in the sauce for a while before serving. You can use chicken breast pieces if you like, but simmering chicken breast for any length of time will dry it out considerably, so you may just want to add it back to the sauce for only a minute or two to reheat it before serving.
  2. The chicken for this recipe can simply be sautéed as in the recipe but when I have access to the backyard grill, I like to gill it for extra smoky flavor.
  3. To a large covered Dutch oven over medium heat add the 3 tbsp butter and peanut oil. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper as well as the 3 tsp garam masala. Add to the pot and brown the pieces for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove chicken from pan and set aside. Add 6 cloves of minced garlic and the diced white onion.
  4. Sauté the onions and garlic in the butter and oil until softened. Increase the heat to medium high and add the diced tomatoes.
  5. Sauté the tomatoes until they break down and form a chunky sauce. Add the sautéed tomatoes and onions to a large blender or food processor along with the chopped green chilies, yogurt, 4 tbsp garam masala, cardamom, nutmeg, cumin, chili powder, lemon juice, ginger, 1 clove minced garlic, and ¼ cup melted butter.
  6. Puree all ingredients together and return to the pot along with the chicken stock. Simmer together until the sauce is reduced in volume by about 1/4.
  7. Add the chicken back to the pot and simmer slowly for 10 to 15 minutes. Finish the dish by adding the honey (more or less to taste) and cream.
  8. Simmer for an additional minute or two before serving over rice or with naan.


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