Butter Chicken Recipe (Murgh Makhani)

Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani needs no introduction! Succulent pieces of tandoori chicken in a creamy, rich makhana gravy. What else can be better than that?

Butter Chicken is my husband’s favourite dish, and it is rare that he finds the perfect balance of flavours in Butter Chicken when eating out. A lot of restaurants either tend to make it oily or sweet or the makhana gravy doesn’t have the punch it needs.
Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani was invented by Chef Kundan Lal Gujral at Moti Mahal restaurant, Delhi, long time ago and since then has become the face of Indian Cuisine. Butter Chicken was an accidental recipe as the chef wanted to use up the left over ‘tandoori chicken’ and came up with making a makhana gravy to complement the juicy, succulent chicken.

To make this legendary dish, the chicken pieces are marinated, grilled, makhana gravy is prepared and then the grilled chicken pieces are added to the gravy. It seems like a lot of steps while making Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani but it is quite straight forward.
This recipe packs a punch without using loads of butter and cream. I would highly recommend spending some time making the makhana sauce and getting it perfect as it can make or break the dish.
Butter Chicken taste delicious with Plain Naan, Lachha Paratha or even Mint and Sesame lachha Paratha.


For the Marinade
1 kg Chicken cut into 1.5-inch pieces (or use bone-in Chicken pieces)
1 teaspoon mustard oil
½ cup hung yogurt
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon Kashmiri Red chilli Powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon kasuri methi
1 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon cumin powder
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon lime juice

For The Gravy
1 tablespoon oil
3-4 green cardamom
1 inch cinnamon
3-4 cloves
1 mace
1 black cardamom
2-3 bayleaf
1-2 roughly chopped onions
6-7 garlic cloves
¼ cup unsalted cashew nuts
4-5 roughly chopped tomatoes
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon kasuri methi

Other Ingredients
1 teaspoon butter
½ teaspoon Kashmiri Red Chilli Powder
½ garam masala
1 teaspoon kasuri methi
¼ cup fresh cream



Add the garlic, ginger, mustard oil, hung yogurt, turmeric powder, coriander powder, cumin powder, garam masala, Kashmiri Red chilli Powder, kasuri methi, salt and lime juice to the cleaned chicken pieces and mix.
Cover and set aside for at least 2-3 hours to marinate.


Heat oil in a pan and add the green cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, mace, black cardamom and bayleaf. Let them infuse the oil and add the onions and garlic.
Sauté on high heat for 2-3 minutes.


Add the cashew nuts, tomatoes, salt, turmeric powder, coriander powder, Kashmiri Red chilli powder and kasuri methi.
Cover and cook on low heat for at least 20-30 minutes or until the tomatoes are soft and cooked. Turn the heat off and let them cool down.

Blend the sauce with a hand blender or in a food processor until smooth.


Strain the puree through a sieve. Preheat oven to 425°F/220°C/Gas7.
Line a baking tray with foil or baking parchment paper. Place the marinated chicken on the tray.
Bake for 7 minutes and then turn over and cook for another 6-7 minutes until the surface is golden.


Heat the butter in a pan and add the Kashmiri Red Chilli powder, garam masala, kasuri methi and the sieved makhani gravy.
Add the grilled chicken pieces and cream. Cover and cook on low heat for 5-10 minutes to infuse the chicken with the gravy.
Serve hot with naan or rice.

Tips & Variations

  1. You can use bone or boneless chicken for this recipe. I recommend using thighs for this recipe as they will remain succulent in the gravy.
  2. Marination plays an important role in this recipe so I would highly recommend not to skip it. Depending on the time you have in hand, marinate as long as possible. Sometimes I marinate the chicken overnight for maximum flavour.
  3. If you do not have cashew nuts, feel free to substitute with blanched almonds (almonds soaked in water and skin taken off). Cashew nuts and almonds add creaminess to the gravy.
  4. I do not like to add any food colour in my food hence the colour of the butter chicken is dependent on the tomatoes and the spices.
  5. Use the best ripe tomatoes for this recipe. I prefer to use fresh tomatoes as they are sweeter compared to the canned tomatoes.
  6. Butter chicken cannot be made without kasuri methi. I would highly recommend using it to make butter chicken.
  7. Instead of grilling the chicken in the oven, you can pan fry too. Heat a pan and add a teaspoon of oil. Add the marinated chicken pieces and sear them on for 4-5 minutes each side for 4-5 minutes on medium heat.
  8. If you want to infuse extra flavour, then you can smoke the Butter Chicken. To smoke the chicken, place a small steel bowl or foil in the middle of the butter chicken while it’s still in the pan. Heat a piece of charcoal on an open flame till it is hot and then place it in the bowl. Pour a teaspoon of oil or ghee over it, and as soon as it starts smoking, cover the pan with a lid. Smoke for 3-4 minutes.