The King’s Butter Chicken

While home from medical school for the holidays, I decided that I wanted to try a new recipe for the family to try. Toward the end of the last semester, some of my classmates and I went out for a night of Indian food, followed by ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. At the Indian restaurant, I ordered the butter chicken. It is a dish that I had tried in San Diego when David and I got take-out to eat while watching Mad Men one night. Butter chicken has a rich flavor that I just can’t get enough of. I did some thorough research online and found several recipes for butter chicken, but no one single recipe seemed to give me what I was looking for. I ended up pulling components from several recipes for this final product. I’m sure it is something that I will continue to tinker with, and as I do I will update this recipe with any changes that I make to enhance the final product. I have no doubt that David will also have some good input, as he’s very good at fine-tuning dishes like butter chicken. Regardless, the end product for my family was delicious and tasted just like the butter chicken I had ordered at the restaurant. There is not a lot of heat with this dish, as my family isn’t too keen on spice, so if you would like a little more kick, just increase the cayenne pepper to taste or add my favorite producer of heat, Sriracha. Now if only I could find some liquid nitrogen to recreate the ice cream from the night out with my classmates!

The King's Butter Chicken with Naan
The King’s Butter Chicken with Naan
The King’s Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

Serve with basmati rice and naan, such as The King’s Garlic Naan. Garnish each serving with fresh cilantro. This tasted just like the butter chicken found at many Indian restaurants and makes quite a bit, so there should be plenty for leftovers.

  • 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped into 1″ pieces
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 4 teaspoons garam masala, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, divided
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped finely
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cans (14 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 2 cups half & half
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Cilantro, roughly chopped for garnish
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the chicken and then sprinkle 1 teaspoon garam masala and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper over the chicken. Cook until it has browned on the outside. It does not need to cook all the way through, because it will finish cooking in the sauce. Transfer the chicken to a bowl and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium and melt another 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5-10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Then add the ginger, cumin, chili powder and the remaining 3 teaspoons garam masala and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Cook for about 45 seconds until fragrant. Add the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Simmer for about 5 minutes. At this point I used an immersion blender to make sure it was a smooth sauce and blend any larger pieces of onion, if you don’t have an immersion blender or blender to give it a whirl in, you should be fine if you finely chop your onion. Add the half & half  and the chicken. Reduce the heat to simmer sauce for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, stirring until it has melted and been incorporated into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with basmati rice and naan bread and garnish with fresh roughly chopped cilantro.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I love this recipe. One of my favorites. Thank you for sharing this.


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