Butter Chicken (Indian Murg Makhani) Recipe

Butter Chicken (Indian Murg Makhani) Recipe

Butter chicken or murgh makhani (Hindi: मुर्ग़ मक्खनी) is an Indian dish of chicken in a mildly spiced curry sauce. It is served in India and abroad. The dish has its roots in Punjabi cuisine and was developed by the Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi, India.

Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  1. 2 lbs chicken, washed, patted dry and cut into small pieces (feel free to use chicken with or without bones, chicken thighs or a combination of breast and thighs)
  2. 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  3. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  4. salt
  5. oil/butter/ghee to baste while grilling

For marinade:

  1. 3/4 cup plain yogurt, strained/hung or use 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  2. 1.5 teaspoons Kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves
  3. 1/2 – 1 teaspoon turmeric
  4. 1 teaspoon garam masala (homemade or store-bought may be used)
  5. 1.5 tablespoon mustard oil, or any other cooking oil to substitute
  6. 1.5 tablespoon ginger paste
  7. 1/2 tablespoon garlic paste

**Note on the grilled chicken: you may use the recipe above or if you already have the Murgh/Chicken Tikka  (recipe posted) ready, you can use the same chicken in the sauce.

Note on the Sauce: You can make the sauce right when you are making this dish  (use recipe below) or use 2 cups of the Makhani Masala(without the cream added to it) if you have it already frozen and stored.

Whatever you use, pre-made/frozen or make it now, use 2 cups of the Sauce/Makhani Masala. If you are making now as per the recipe below and have extra, freeze it for later use.

Suggested Read: Murgh Tikka

For the sauce/Makhani Masala:

  1. 2.5-inch fresh ginger, made into a paste
  2. 8-10 cloves of garlic, made into a paste
  3. 2-4 fresh green chili pepper, slit
  4. 4 tablespoon melted butter
  5. 4 green cardamoms
  6. 1.5 – 2-inch cinnamon sticks
  7. 2 cloves
  8. 1 black cardamom
  9. 1/2 -3/4 teaspoon methi/fenugreek seeds
  10. 3-3.5 cups tomato puree (fresh tomatoes) or canned tomatoes (reduce the amount a little bit here as the water content will be less as compared to the fresh)
  11. 1 tablespoon red chili powder/cayenne pepper/paprika or to taste
  12. 10 almonds, soaked, peeled and made into a paste
  13. 1 teaspoon garam masala
  14. 1 tablespoon Kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves, very lightly toasted on a dry skillet and crushed
  15. 1/2 tablespoon sugar or honey (you might need to adjust this based on how tart the tomatoes are. The dish will not be sweet. The sweet is used to neutralize the acid)
  16. 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Suggested Read: Hariyali Chicken Kabab 


Apply red chili powder, lemon juice, and salt to the chicken and set aside for 20 minutes. This is the first marination.

Combine all ingredients of the second marinade (see the ingredient list). Apply this marinade to the chicken and refrigerate for three to four hours; overnight works better.

Put the chicken on skewers and cook on a grill or a preheated oven at 400°F,  for about 10 minutes while turning them over midway. Cook until done. Do not overcook, as the chicken will dry out and get fibrous. Baste it with butter/ghee/oil or marinade if you want, a couple of times while cooking. Set aside once done.

(The chicken may be grilled on a skillet/cast iron pan/grill pan on the stovetop too. Heat the skillet/stovetop grill pan and coat it with oil. Place the skewers and cook while turning them around and basting with oil and marinade until done, for about 15 minutes. Remove and set aside.)

Suggested Read: Indian Chicken Recipes

Cooking the Sauce:

[ If you are using the pre-made makhani masala, it should be about 2 cups in quantity]

Heat butter/ghee or oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add green cardamoms, black cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. Sauté for a couple of minutes or till they start to sizzle and get fragrant; add the methi/fenugreek seeds. When the methi seeds sizzle, add ginger paste and garlic paste, and the slit green chilies. Cook in medium heat for five to eight minutes; the water from the paste would have evaporated and the ginger garlic paste would have reduced in quantity.

Add tomato puree or paste red chili powder and salt. Cook (may partially cover during cooking) at medium heat for about 15 – 20 minutes. The puree will reduce to a thick paste and the oil/ghee will separate from the sides of the pan.

After the tomatoes are cooked down, you might want to blend the cooked sauce (along with all the spices) into a smooth puree, if you want a restaurant like smooth texture for the sauce – especially if you are using fresh tomatoes. return it back to the pan after blending and continue with the rest of the process.

Add 2.5 cups of hot water to the pan (or if you want it less soupy and want the sauce to kind of coat the chicken pieces and have a little bit extra, add less water or simmer for a longer time to achieve the pref. consistency as per your taste), add the almond paste and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes; add sugar and crushed Kasuri methi.

Add cooked grilled chicken pieces. Stir well to combine – the chicken will be well coated with the sauce. Cover and simmer for eight to ten minutes; Lower the heat and add garam masala and the heavy cream. Stir in the cream and simmer at low heat for about five more minutes.

Garnish with fresh cilantro and add a splash of cream before serving.

Suggested Read: Tandoori Murgh 

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Simmi Kamboj

Simmi Kamboj is the Founder and Administrator of Ritiriwaz, your one-stop guide to Indian Culture and Tradition. She had a passion for writing about India's lifestyle, culture, tradition, travel, and is trying to cover all Indian Cultural aspects of Daily Life.