Butter Chicken / Murgh Makhani

Butter Chicken , also known as Murg Makhani, is a very rich and popular dish with everyone and every age group! My sons know this as ‘chicken with the red curry’ and enjoy it to the hilt. Considering how often we make it at our home, we have to make it a little more healthy without compromising on the taste. Butter Chicken is one of those dishes that very few restaurants get wrong…every cook or chef has his or her own little variations which makes their dish unique and yet, fantastic. Murg Makhani is a dish that has wonderful flavor and a rich and creamy texture. You will surely fall in love with it!

Serves: 4-6


Ingredients:

Chicken – 1.5 lbs, boneless skinless thighs
Lemon Juice – 1 tbsp
Red Chili Powder – to taste
Salt – to taste
Yogurt – 1/2 cup
Ginger & Garlic Paste – 4 tsp
Tandoori Masala – 2 tsp
Unsalted Butter – 1.5 tbsp
Garam Masala – 1 tsp
Big Cardamom – 1
Green Cardamom – 2
Cinnamon Stick – 1″ pc.
Bay Leaf – 1
Tomatoes – 3 large, pureed
Sugar – 1 tsp or to taste
Dried Methi Leaves (Kasoori Methi) – 1 tbsp
Green Chili – to taste, finely chopped
Heavy Whipping Cream – 1 cup or to taste
Cilantro – 3 sprigs, finely chopped

Method:

1. Cut the Chicken to bite-size pieces and wash it well.
2. In a bowl (or large Ziplock bag) add the following – Lemon Juice, 2 tsps of Ginger & Garlic Paste, Tandoori Masala, Red Chili Powder, Salt and Yogurt.
3. Mix well and marinate in the refrigerator overnight for best results or atleast a couple of hours.
4. Grease a broiler dish with ghee, oil or cooking spray and layer the Chicken in a single layer.ย Broil on high for 5-7 minutes on each side. Keep an eye on it as every oven varies.ย  The size of the chicken pieces makes a difference and where you place the rack in the oven plays a big role in howย long the chicken needs to be cooked.
5. For the gravy, in a medium size pan on medium heat, melt and heat the Butter.
6. Once hot, add the Cardamoms, Bay Leaf and Cinnamon Stick. Fry for 1 minute.
7. Add the balance of Ginger and Garlic paste and fry of 30 secs.
8. Add in the Green Chilis and the Tomato Puree. Mix well.
9. Add in the Salt, Red Chili Powder and Garam Masala and mix well.
10. Allow it to come to a boil and then lower the heat and let the gravy simmer for 10 minutes till most of the juice from the tomatoes evaporates.
11. Add in the Sugar and the Dried Methi Leaves and allow it to cook for another 2 minutes before adding broiled Chicken pieces. Mix well to coat Chicken.
12. Add the Whipping Cream, mix and allow it to come to a boil and take it off the flame.
13. At this point, doย a taste test and adjust the salt, sugar and the liquid in the gravy.
14. Mix in half the Cilantro in the dish and garnish the balance while serving.

Tips:

1. Don’t have access to a broiler dish? – no problem…use metal skewers or wooden ones(soaked) or just barbeque them on the grill.
2. Great alternatives to making this dish everyday and not feeling guilty about it –

* Use Chicken Breast instead of Chicken Thighs, but make sure you baste the Chicken Breasts while broiling or they will dry up.
* Use Oil instead of Butter.
* Substitutes for Heavy Whipping Cream – Half and Half, Evaporated Milk, Lactaid, Milk or Milk Powder (so you can control the water).

Watch and learn!

145 thoughts on “Butter Chicken / Murgh Makhani

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  2. Hi,

    Im making this tonight for a dinner party. Im so excited but nervous to try. Im using a 14 ounce can of diced tomoatoes that I will blend to make the puree. I have 2 questions. Can I use more tomatoes, will this create more sauce? Ive heard that I should put ketchup to thicken the sauce? If you agree, how much ketchup and when?

    Thanks,
    Ashley

  3. I just made this tonight for dinner and it was really excellent! I used Lactaid milk instead of cream per the substitution suggestions and then added a small pat of butter at the end to give it a little shine and oomph. Thanks for such a great recipe!

  4. dear hetal and anuja,
    iam a big big fan of urs…I don’t know how many recipes I have tried and they all come out real good.the most I liked was ur baked chicken wings…the came out fabulous..whoever ate..kept asking did u make it?
    I HAVE A HUMBLE REQUEST IF U PLEASE COULD HELP ME WITH SOMETHING.I HAVE ABIG PARTY ABOUT 60 PERSONS..CAN U PLEASE MAIL ME THE AMOUNT OF INGREDIENTS I SHOULD USE TO MAKE BUTTER CHICKEN.i will really appreciate ur help.The party is on the 7th of feb,please if u can help me out with this…
    thank u so much…eagerly waiting for ur mail!

    1. Hi Sree,

      This recipe serves about 6 people. Since it is a party, I am assuming that you will have lots of other items as well and the chicken is not the only item. You should probably make about 6-7 times the quantity shown. If the chicken is your only item, you may want to do the full 10 times the recipe. Whatever you decide, it is easy…just multiply all of the ingredients by the number of batches you want to make.

      Here are two helpful conversions:
      3 tsp = 1 Tbsp
      4 Tbsp = 1/4 cup

      Good luck!

  5. This is an awesome recipe – and my guest loved it! It was extremely thick and creamy but next time I want the sauce to be a little more soupy like the restaurants. I was thinking to add water but wasn’t sure!

      1. We are not big fans of food coloring but you can use Kashmiri or Deggi Mirch… it will increase the amount of redness in the dish without adding too much heat.

  6. I made a batch of this last night and it was great but a little too salty. What can I do to take the salt levels down for today? Will adding more crushed tomatoes help? I’ve already added more cream

  7. Hi. I have made this a few times and the flavor is great but the chicken does not taste good. I use chicken breast and cut it up and do as you say. It turns out chewy and dry even when I under cook the chicken a little.

    Please help because I know my family would eat it if the chicken was edible.

    Thx

    1. Hi Seema,

      The problem is most likely that you are using chicken breast rather than chicken thighs. Breat meat is usually dry and tends to get chewy.

  8. Hi Hetal & Anuja,

    Thank you so much for this recipe. Love the video ! It is so helpful ๐Ÿ™‚ We love indian food and always wanted to try make some nice dish and with your help I did it!
    I added 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (health benefits) and used fresh ginger instead of paste.
    Next time have to add 1 more tomato for more sauce.
    Btw.
    Your webside is wonderful!

    E

  9. Hi
    My wife is a homemaker and she is the one who cooks in the weekdays .Just wanted her to have a relaxing weekend so decided to cook for her n kids . This recipe was a BIG HIT.but one problem…….they are asking me to do this every weekend :)And for desert made the eggless chocolate cake n that too was excellent
    Had fun cooking for them and your site is great help for inexperienced cook like me.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Ashwini,

      Wow! That’s great to hear. Its nice that you are giving your wife a break…and what a great compliment that your family if asking you for more :).

  10. This dish was a great hit. The recipe is fantastic! I love you guys! I am learning so much, and my friends and family are just thrilled! Thank you!

  11. hi hetal,
    form where can i view ur video for this receipe,

    u both are doing gerat, i have tried some other dishes by reading and following ur instructions, they come out really wonderful.
    one question u being guggu do u eat non-veg…because all my guggu friends keep away form it.

    thanks

    sylvy

    1. Hi Sylvy,

      The video is at the bottom of the page…just scroll down. I am a vegetarian, but my husband and children are not. Therefore, I am accustomed to being around non-veg food.

  12. Made this the other day with left over thigh meat from a turkey. Also, used 1/4 cup of half and half and the rest yogurt instead of the heavy cream. Came out great.

  13. Ladies, I marinated my chicken in the sauce for a few hours. In order to do that I doubled the recipe. Can I freeze the extra sauce and how long will it stay good?

  14. I love Indian food, and I love to cook. I really appreciate you ladies providing such an informative site for people like me who didn’t grow up around these dishes or spices! I’m on my way to the local IndoPak store to stock up!

    1. Hi Kelly,

      That’s great! The videos are a little outdated but we have “Stocking Your Pantry for Indian Cooking” – Parts 1 & 2. You can check them out in the “Odd and Ends” tab.

  15. u have suggested milk powder as one of the alternatives for whipping cream. how to use this milk powder. should i put it directly on the chicken gravy.

    1. Hi Swa,

      You can add less water to the milk powder to bring it to the consistency of heavy cream…then add it.

      1. thanks for your reply. will adding milk powder rather than whipping cream make any difference in the taste of the dish. secondly can i add milkpowder (instead of cream)to butter paneer recipe given in your site. at home when you cook these dishes how you make it less fattening….

        1. Hi Swa,

          We substitute evaporated milk for heavy whipping cream to save on fat and calories. The taste may be better than using milk powder.

  16. I just want to say that we’ve been relying on this recipe for almost 4 years now. We LOVE it! We substitute Fenugreek for the Dried Methi Leaves and it works fine. It’s def always better when the chicken marinates over night.

  17. Hi ladies,

    I followed your suggestions and made this with paneer last night and it turned out awesome ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll definitely be making this again soon! Thanks so much

  18. Hetal,
    Thanks so much for the quick reply! After my post, I marinated the chicken without yogurt. The recipe came out wonderful! But this time, I will be following the recipe very close.

    Love your work.

  19. Anuja and Hetal,

    How do you cook yogurt in this recipe without it being curdled? I love the butter chicken in restaurants, but can’t make it at home because of the yogurt turning into cottage cheese ๐Ÿ™ Please help!

    Svetlana

    1. Hi Svetlana,

      The yogurt is used in the marinade and not really cooked in the gravy for it to curdle. The gravy is made using cream.

  20. Hi ladies! Thanks for the recipe ๐Ÿ˜€

    I like totally rocked this dish yesterday! Everyone was licking their fingers off ๐Ÿ˜€ Gonna make it again this weekend, only a bit more this time!

    Love from Amsterdam,
    Sam

    PS. Gonna get a pizzastone soon and try out making naan. Will go quite nice with the butter chicken

  21. Hi Anuja and Hetal,
    If you were making this with paneer, would you marinate the paneer in the Lemon Juice, Ginger & Garlic Paste, Tandoori Masala, Red Chili Powder, Salt and Yogurt and then fry it?

    Or just add the marinade ingredients to the gravy and fry the paneer in oil like usual? Or omit the marinade ingredients altogether?
    I know you have a separate recipe for butter paneer, but this gravy just looks so good!!!

    1. Hi Claire,
      Yes, we suggest marinating the Paneer like you mentioned and suggest you saute it. The sauteing will seal in the flavors.
      One tip – if you are using the store-bought Paneer, use a fork and very gently, prick the paneer so that the marination and the juices seep in all the way.
      Hope that helps.

  22. This is amazing! the website is so great. I find all of the recipes i would otherwise be searching on google! thankyou!

  23. Hello,

    I have looked all over town – unable to find dried methi leaves and tandoori masala—Is there anything else I can substitute for these flavors?

    Thanks so much!

  24. this was sinfully divine !!!!! food this good should be crime…

    thank you sooo much …i always ate butter chicken in restaurants after many failure attempts at home…

    no more !! it was so easy…u cant go wrong !!!

  25. I made this yesterday for my Italian friends who do not fancy strong Indian spices and flavours….and it turned out to be a big hit!!
    They loved it as it was a great balance of of flavors yet not overwhelming with spices. Thanks for a great recipe and the great work!

  26. I made this for dinner tonight. It was unbelievably good. I husband said I’d outdone myself. He stood over the bowl with a fork and kept saying, “MMMMM. This is so good.”

    This recipe is a bit more labor intensive than some of your other recipes, but well worth it.
    Thank you so posting this video.

    1. Hi Sheri,
      Yes, it has that extra step of marinating and cooking the chicken – but like you said “well worth it”
      Glad you guys enjoyed it ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Hi Hetal and Anuja,

    I donot seem to have broil function.
    I have Static (symbol one line up and one line down), Grill + Fan function (symbol like grill on top and fan ), Grill function and extra grill for which door has to be left open , Fan function (Symbol fan).
    Which do you think i should use?

    Thanks
    Sonali

  28. Hello Dearies,

    I tried your awesome recipe using chicken breasts but faced a few problems as I was cooking chicken for the first time:
    1. I didn’t have a broiler dish.So I substitued by putting foil on normal grill and poked few holes in it for juices to rinse down. I hope it is correct ..

    2. I never broiled chicken so I kept it in a special symbol in my oven ๐Ÿ™ Not sure it was correct or not.

    I don’t know the problem but when I put everything in gravy,although the pieces were cooked but were hard to chew and not very tasy.

    Could you please suggest what could have gone wrong and how to correct it..

    So grateful to you for making cooking easier for me ๐Ÿ™‚

    Love,
    Angie

    1. Hi Angie,
      Chicken breast have very little fat in them hence cook faster and tend to get overcooked and chewy. Chick thighs are what we usually use, they have a little more fat in them so they remain moist.
      If you do not have a broiler – crank up the temperature of your oven to the maximum and then cook to try and get the tandoor effect ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. Hey Thanks for your reply..But I don’t get boneless chicken thighs here..
        Is there any other special suggestion to cook the chicken breasts ideal for Butter Chicken?

        1. Hi Angie,
          You can use the Chicken Breast or you can use the Chicken thighs with the bones.
          If you care using Chicken Breast – you will need to cook less – unfortunately, can’t tell you exactly how long. You will have to experiment in your oven.

  29. Hi Hetal and anuja,
    I wanted to ask if i can use ghee instead of butter here in this recipe will it alter the taste??

  30. hi,
    I made this dish last night for my husband. I am a vegetarian, but my husband eats meat, so thought of trying it out for him. My first ever i’v cooked non-veg and it was really really tasty(is what my husband said) :). Thank you soo much.

  31. Hello Ladies……………
    I am one of your big fan………Loved all ur recipes uptill now……..Thank You so much………:-)
    Well i will be very glad if u let me know how to prepare tandoori masala which you have used in butter chicken??
    Thank You…………..

  32. Hi there.
    Tried this recipe. Came out awesome. thanks a lot. Followed the recipe as is, except for I used milk and no heavy cream.

    Thnx a lot. Cooking is so much fun now.

  33. Hi, I am on a quest to improve my Indian cooking repertoire, and I have been trying for a while now to figure exactly what type of curry “chicken curry” that you see in restaurants is. It looks the most like this butter chicken, do you know if that is the case? Unfortunately the menus simply state “chicken curry”, which isn’t very helpful when curry means sauce ๐Ÿ™ I hope this is the one!

      1. Hi again,

        I made this last night and it was out of this world amazing!!! Thank you for helping to shed light on the mysteries of Indian cuisine ๐Ÿ™‚ I no longer need to go to the buffet!

  34. I have tried some of your recipes and they are reaally good! But for this recipe I wanted to ask you how can I make this with more gravy? Do I add more tomatoes or cream?

    1. Hi Lisa,

      If the gravy is too thick, you can thin it down with a little milk mixed with the cream. If it is too less, then you can add more tomatoes and cream. You may have to adjust the spices.

    1. Hi Debbie,

      Ground fenugreek seeds have a very bitter taste and will not work well for this recipe. You can find dried or fresh methi leave at most Indian grocery stores. Even Sprouts or Walmart in our area sometimes carry it.

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