Grilled chicken in a luscious tomato-based spiced curry sauce.
There’s about a bazillion versions of this very popular Indian dish, which is why I haven’t gotten around with sharing my own version on here before. Also it’s one of those recipes that I usually make from memory and had never actually written down to be able to share even though almost every time I’ve made it for someone they’ve asked for the recipe. Well, I finally got around to fine tuning it & writing it down so I can simply point people here when they ask for the recipe.
Unlike a lot of recipes for butter chicken I’ve seen online, I use the Indian restaurant method of actually grilling my chicken before adding it to a luscious tomato sauce fragrant with spices and finished with butter and cream. Indian restaurants simply use the previous day’s tandoori chicken in the sauce for the night day, there by avoiding waste and re-purposing it as a new dish. Not only does the spices and smokey flavor of the chicken add to the flavor of the sauce, but the sauce also re hydrates the grilled chicken and keeps it juicy and tender. If you taste a version of butter chicken where raw chicken is simply added to sauce, versus a grilled spiced chicken added to the sauce you’ll really appreciate that extra step of grilling the meat.
Also this is an unusual post for me as I didn’t photograph the dish myself. When the big pandemic lock-down first hit our little city in the Pacific Northwest, my foodie friends and I came up with creative food exchanges through a porch drop & dash. It was a fun way to share the copious amounts of food we were suddenly experimenting & making out of sheer boredom & a way to still connect over food. This meal was one such food exchange and my very talented friend and fellow blogger Suwanee at SimplySuwanee.com took these photos of the meal. They were so on point with how I usually style and photograph food that I asked if I could use them to share my recipe here. You guys have to check her out for some amazing Thai restaurants and and introduction to Thai ingredients, also her photograph is just stunning so follow her on instagram @simplysuwanee
Here’s how you can make some pretty traditional Butter Chicken:
For the Chicken:
- 3-4 Chicken Breasts/ Thighs boneless
- 1 Tbsp Ginger-Garlic paste
- 2 tsp Chili Powder Kashmiri Chilli or a mix of Cayenne & Paprika
- 2 Tbsp Greek Yogurt plain
- 1 Lime juiced
- Salt to taste
For the Sauce:
- 1/2 inch Cinnamon Stick
- 2-3 Cloves
- 2-3 Green Cardamom Pods
- 1 Bay Leaf
- 1/4 cup Butter
- 1 medium Onion diced
- 1 Tbsp Ginger-Garlic paste
- 1-2 green chillies (thai)
- 1 (15oz) can Tomato Puree (not suace)
- 6-8 cashews soaked in hot water
- 1 Tbsp Coriander Powder
- 1/2 tsp Cumin powder
- 2 tsp Red chili powder (mix of cayenne & Paprika works)
- 2 Tbsp Sugar
- Chicken stock/water
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 handful fresh cilantro chopped
For the Chicken
- Mix the garlic-ginger, chili powder, yogurt, salt and lime juice to make a paste. Apply it to the chicken pieces (keeping them whole or in big pieces for easy grilling) , marinate and let it
sit for at least 30 mins or longer.
- Once marinated cook on high heat on the grill to get a charred flavor. The chicken doesn't need to cook all the way through, you'll be cubing and finishing it in the sauce.
For the Sauce
- Heat half the butter and a couple spoons of oil in a pot.
- Once hot add all the whole spices and let them sizzle, then immediately add the diced onion and sauté until translucent and soft.
- Add the ginger-garlic paste and fry for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the chilli peppers, 1 can tomato puree and all the ground spices and sugar. stir and cover and cook for about 20 minutes stirring occasionally. basically let all the flavors meld together and cook down until you start seeing a little oil or butter separating from the mixture.
- Add the soaked cashews with the water and about a cup or so of chicken stock or water. Boil with a cover for another 15 mins.
- Turn off heat and let the mixture cool enough to be able to blend it into a smooth sauce/ or if you have an immersion blender just blend in the pot directly.
- Once blended smooth return the sauce to the pot and bring to a boil, adjust consistency with water/stock.
- Dice the grilled chicken pieces and add it to the curry with all the chicken juices and blackened bits.
- Stir in the remaining butter and crush dried fenugreek leaves over the top. Cover & simmer for 10-15 mins.
- Turn heat to low and add heavy cream to finish the dish. heat through, but don't boil.
- Turn off heat and garnish with chopped cilantro.