Butter chicken curry, one of the easiest curries you can make at home. Full of spice, but not too much chilli, ideal cooking for a family curry night in!
Butter chicken curry is a dish I love to cook. I love curry and I love cooking my own curry, this butter chicken curry recipe is a family favourite. A curry that everyone enjoys, full of spice, but mild on the chilli. This means it’s my go-to curry when I’m feeding my family and friends.
In those discussions where you’re asked “if you were only allowed one food type for the rest of your life, what would it be?” I always answer curry! I love cooking curry and enjoy eating it even more!
There is nothing more enjoyable to me than spending an afternoon cooking curry for family and friends. When I’m feeding a crowd I cook multiple dishes so that everyone can have a little of every dish. Depending on numbers I usually cook 2 meat curries, 1 vegetable curry and I always include a dahl.
I always have a balance of spicy and not so spicy dishes. This butter chicken curry is not too heavy on chilli heat. However, I usually make another curry and add more chilli to that dish. Ideal for those who, like me, enjoy their curry hot! That way there is something for everyone.
What is Butter Chicken Curry?
Butter chicken is a dish that originates from Northern India, where it is called Murgh Makhani. This curry is made with chicken, spices, tomato, butter and cream. The chicken is marinated with spices, lemon and yogurt. Once coated, set the chicken aside for a minimum of 4 hours, but ideally overnight!
The chicken pieces are then grilled and added to a rich tomato and butter sauce. This curry sauce is lightly spiced and finished with a little cream. Of course if this dish was being made in India the chicken would be cooked in a tandoor oven. Sadly something I don’t have access to so I make do with my grill!
Is it easy to make your own curry?
This curry is a really easy one to start with as it’s a simple case marinating the chicken and then leaving it aside to soak up the flavours. The marinaded chicken adds so much flavour to the finished dish.
Furthermore, cooking your own curry means you can cut back on the oil, cream and butter if you would prefer. Making it not only a cheaper alternative to a takeaway, but also healthier too.
What is the difference between Butter Chicken & Chicken Tikka Masala?
Whilst there are similarities in the dishes, chicken tikka masala is a dish created in the UK. Whereas, butter chicken curry is an authentic North Indian dish. In simplest terms, the sauce for chicken tikka masala is more tomato based. Whereas, while the sauce does contain tomatoes, a butter chicken curry recipe contains more butter and cream. A butter chicken therefore has a creamier consistency.
Making your own curry can be daunting, because the list of ingredients can look endless. However, most of this ingredient list for this recipe are the spices that are being added to both the marinade and the curry sauce. If you are in the habit of cooking spicy food you will probably have most of it in your store cupboard.
Can I change the spices?
As with most recipes if there is a spice that you really don’t like then simply leave it out. Likewise if you want the dish to be a little hotter, then add more chilli to the sauce. However, take care to balance the spicing in the dish, you don’t want one flavour overpowering the others.
What can I serve with butter chicken curry?
This recipe for butter chicken curry is full of spice so I like to serve it with some steamed basmati rice or some roti style breads. The sauce is rich so I don’t like adding anything too aromatic, I like the curry to be the star of the show. I also like to serve a spicy lentil dahl alongside, something with a nice kick of chilli that adds a different flavour dimension.
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Additional recipe suggestions:
If you like this recipe then try our Lamb & Spinach Curry, our Indian Cottage Pie, or our Whole Chicken & Squash Curry. Or for vegetarian curry options try our Vegetable & Coconut Curry, our Matar Paneer Curry or our Easy Vegetable Curry. Or for something with a lovely lightness of spice and not too much chilli heat, try our Chicken Pilaf.
Looking for inspiration for feeding the family mid week, then take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Family Dinners. Full of useful hints, tips and lots of recipes.
Butter Chicken Curry
- 200 g natural yogurt – plain
- 1 juice of one lemon
- 4 cloves garlic – crushed
- 2.5 cm root ginger – finely grated
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp ground fenugreek
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 750 g chicken breast – cubed
- 60 g butter or ghee
- 1 large onion – chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2.5 cm root ginger – roughly chopped
- 2 red chillies
- 3 cardamon pods – lightly bruised
- 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp salt
- 400 g can of plum tomatoes – or sieved tomatoes
- 200 ml chicken stock
- 100 ml single cream
- 1 large handful coriander leaf – chopped
- Place all the ingredients for the marinade, with the exception of the chicken, into a large bowl. Mix well to combine thoroughly before adding the chicken pieces to the marinade. Stir through to ensure all the chicken is covered in this thick yogurt sauce.
- Cover the bowl and place it in the fridge for at least 4 hours, but ideally overnight.
- Place the onion, garlic, root ginger and chilli into a food processor and blitz to a smooth paste.
- Meanwhile melt 40g of the butter into a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the cardamon pods, paprika, garam masala and salt. Fry the spices gently for a minute until they start to release their aroma.
- Add the blitzed up onion mixture to the frying pan and saute gently for 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and the stock and simmer the sauce gently for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile heat the grill. Take the chicken out of the fridge and thread the chicken pieces onto skewers, before placing the skewers onto a large grill pan that has been lined with kitchen foil. Brush over some of the marinade and place under the grill and cook for 15 minutes, turning the chicken halfway through. The chicken pieces should be cooked through and look a little charred around the edges.
- Any excess marinade can be added to the curry sauce, along with any cooking juices from the bottom of the grill pan.
- Remove the chicken pieces from the skewers and stir through the curry sauce.
- Add the remaining butter and stir until melted before adding the cream and coriander leaves. Serve immediately.