Butter Chicken Curry Recipe: A Rich and Flavorful Indian Dish

Butter chicken, also known as murgh makhani, is a popular Indian dish that has gained worldwide fame for its rich and creamy flavor. This North Indian dish is believed to have originated in Delhi, and has since become a staple in Indian restaurants around the globe. In this article, we will explore the history of butter chicken, its unique blend of spices, and a step-by-step recipe for making this delectable curry at home.

History of Butter Chicken

Butter chicken was invented in the early 20th century by a chef named Kundan Lal Gujral, who owned a popular restaurant in Delhi called Moti Mahal. Gujral had a culinary epiphany when he revisited the traditional tandoori chicken, which he found to be too dry. To fix this, he marinated the chicken in a creamy tomato-based sauce and baked it in a tandoor, creating a moist and flavorful recipe that he named “murgh makhani” (literally meaning “butter chicken”).

The dish became an instant hit, gaining popularity both locally and globally. Over the years, it has undergone several variations and adaptations, with different chefs adding their own touch to the recipe. Today, butter chicken is one of the most iconic Indian dishes, beloved by people of all ages.


To make butter chicken, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp sugar (optional)
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish


  1. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, ginger paste, garlic paste, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, red chili powder, salt, and lemon juice. Whisk to combine.
  3. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and mix to coat. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours.
  4. In a large skillet or wok, heat the vegetable oil and 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the marinated chicken pieces and cook for about 10-12 minutes, or until they start to brown. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  5. In the same skillet, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and melt it over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté until it becomes translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes to the skillet along with the tomato paste and stir to combine. Cook for 10-12 minutes, or until the tomatoes break down and turn into a smooth sauce.
  7. Once the tomato sauce is ready, remove the skillet from heat and let it cool down. Once cooled, blend the mixture using an immersion blender or transfer it to a regular blender and pulse until smooth.
  8. Pour the tomato sauce back into the skillet and place it over medium heat. Add the heavy cream and stir until it is fully mixed in.
  9. Add the chicken to the skillet and let it simmer in the sauce for 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked and tender.
  10. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed. If desired, add a teaspoon of sugar to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes.
  11. Garnish the butter chicken with chopped cilantro and serve hot, accompanied by rice or naan bread.

Making it Your Own

Butter chicken is a versatile dish that can be adapted to suit your taste preferences. Here are some ideas to make it your own:

  • Add diced bell peppers or mushrooms to the sauce for added texture and flavor.
  • Use coconut milk instead of heavy cream to make the dish dairy-free and vegan-friendly.
  • Experiment with different levels of spiciness by adjusting the amount of red chili powder.
  • Top the dish with roasted cashews or almonds for added crunch.


Butter chicken is a classic Indian dish that has become one of the most beloved curries around the world. With its velvety smooth tomato-based sauce and tender chicken pieces, this dish is a comforting and satisfying meal option. With this recipe, you can recreate the flavors of India in your own kitchen and impress your family and friends. So, the next time you crave something delicious and comforting, give this butter chicken recipe a try and enjoy a taste of India!

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