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Prep Time:

20 minutes

Cook Time:

40-50 minutes


4-6 servings

Butter Chicken


For the Marinade:

32 oz (2 lbs) boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, or both, cut bite-sized

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 1/2 Tbsp fine chopped garlic

1 Tbsp fine chopped ginger

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder

1 tsp salt

For the Sauce: (in order of appearance)

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

Chicken above, marinated in refrigerator overnight

2 Tbsp ghee (clarified butter)

1 large red onion, chopped

1 1/2 Tbsp fine chopped garlic

1 Tbsp fine chopped ginger

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp ground coriander

1 15-oz can diced tomatoes

1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder

1/2 tsp salt (add more to taste during final step of cooking)

1 cup heavy cream

1 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (Kasoori methi)


Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight. A shorter time can be used, but the chicken is most tender if a full overnight marinating can happen.

In a large heavy skillet or pot, heat oil on medium heat. When sizzling, add chicken pieces, working in batches. Keep space between the chicken pieces, so they brown but don't stick to each other. Fry chicken pieces 2-3 minutes on each side, until browned. Remove each batch and set aside while working on the next. Keep the browned chicken warm while working on the rest of the sauce. As you fry the chicken, the bottom of the pan will develop brown stuck bits. Try to avoid frying too hot so that these are not black (burned.) The brown bits are important for building flavor in the sauce at the next step. Celebrate them.

When all the chicken is browned and set aside, in the same pan, add ghee and heat until melted. Add the onions and fry until they start to sweat. Put some effort into scraping and unsticking the brown bits from the bottom of the pan at this point. The moisture from the sweating onions will help with this. Get all that goodness back into your sauce! 

Time for the aromatics. Add garlic and ginger and saute for about a minute, until fragrant. Add coriander, cumin, and garam masala and stir them for about 30 seconds until their aroma blooms. Add tomatoes, red chili powder, and salt. Simmer at least 10 minutes, stirring regularly, until the sauce deepens in color from red to almost brown. 

Turn off the heat. Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until as smooth as you can get it. (It also works to move the sauce to a blender and puree. I just don't like to clean my blender.) Taste at this point and adjust salt level --don't oversalt this dish!

Turn the heat back on, to medium-low. Add the heavy cream, sugar, and fenugreek leaves and stir the sauce well. Add the chicken back, including any juices from the container where they were kept warm. Simmer on low, stirring often, until the chicken is completely cooked, about 10 minutes. 

Enjoy over basmati rice.

This dish will be richly spiced, but not too "hot." (Kashmiri red chilis are relatively mild.) To add heat, sprinkle in cayenne powder or red pepper flakes, to taste.

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