Butter Chicken | Murgh Makhani Recipe

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Have you ever heard about the story behind the origin of the very famous Butter Chicken? It’s quite interesting. before I share the story with you, let me tell you there are two kinds of feedback for Butter Chicken. For few, it is unarguable the great chicken dish and for few, it is overhyped. Where do I fall? That we will talk later. 😀

So the origin of Butter Chicken dates back a couple of decades to pre-partition India, and its story takes us to a sweet-shop in Peshawar called Mukhey da Dhaba, owned by an elderly gentleman called Mokha Singh. It was here that young Kundan Lal Gujral worked, and as his grandson Monish Gujral recounts, where he helped invent the Tandoori Chicken that we all love today. Yes, you heard that right, this story also includes the invention of the famous Tandoori Chicken.

There came a time when Mokha Singh’s health deteriorated and he eventually sold the shop (Mukhey Da Dhaba) to Gujral who renamed it as Moti Mahal. An astute businessman, KL Gujral realized that the Tandoori Chicken hanging on the seekhs above the tandoor all day would tend to dry out if unsold. He then came up with the genius idea of creating a basic gravy with tomatoes, butter, cream, and some spices to immerse the Tandoori Chicken pieces in, helping them retain moisture and become palatable again. And thus, was born the Butter Chicken.


A few years back-

Me: Butter Chicken is SO overhyped! What’s so special about this dish? (It’s not my fault if I thought so.)


Me: It’s not actually overhyped but there are a very few places where they serve authentic Butter Chicken. 😀 


I have had good Butter Chicken only a few times (maybe 3-4) till now and that too In Delhi NCR only and once I had a really great Butter Chicken at some Dhaba in Delhi while I was doing my summer internship there. It was undoubtedly good, but of course not healthy as I could see the river of oil floating on the top. After that, I have tried Butter Chicken twice or maybe thrice at “nice restaurants” and they really disappointed me by serving chunks of chicken in tomato gravy and topped with cream. Same story here with Indian restaurants in California too. If you see Butter Chicken in the Indian buffet, I beg you NOT TO EAT IT. They make HORRIBLE Butter Chicken. It at a restaurant you order Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala, there are 99% chances they both will taste the same. Rather you should cook at home and enjoy it.  I never ate Butter Chicken after that.

A few weeks back I was watching an old episode of Master Chef Australia where Chef Saransh Goila challenged the contestants to cook Butter Chicken. Since then it was on my mind. After a few not-so-good experiences of eating Butter Chicken, I finally gathered courage and thought of trying my hands on it. After going through so many recipes of authentic/ restaurant style/ dhaba style/ healthy version and what not, I concluded to make my own. Of course, it is inspired by many recipes. 😀


Butter Chicken is not only famous in India but is also popular in the USA and few countries too. So what makes this Butter Chicken so special and popular? The perfect and juicy chargrilled tandoori chicken simmered in the aromatic blend of spices with the thick tomato paste and cashew paste, fresh cream and dollops of butter results to a mind-blowing and scrumptious mildly spiced, creamy, flavorful Butter Chicken.


Cooking Butter Chicken consists of two recipes. Yup, you heard me right. First, you have to cook tandoori Chicken and second, prepare the makhani gravy. That is how authentic Butter Chicken is prepared. Rest all you see now on the internet is the customized version.

We all know for Tandoori chicken we marinate chicken with yogurt and a few spices. But don’t you want to know the trick behind the well marinated juicy tandoori chicken? Now that is something new to many of us. While marinating the chicken, first, the chicken pieces are marinated with red chili powder, turmeric powder, lime juice, and salt and are left for 1-2hr. After 1-2hour it is marinated with yogurt and a few spices and it will be left overnight so that the meat absorbs the flavors. Then it is cooked over charcoal tandoor.

Try this trick the next time you cook Tandoori Chicken or Butter Chicken or any Chicken recipe that requires marination.


  • Roasting the dry spices make it more aromatic and it surely enhances the taste of tandoori chicken
  • Cooking tomatoes paste is very important otherwise it will taste raw and much tangy.
  • For bright red color in the gravy, heat 1tbsp butter with a fat pinch of Kashmiri red chili powder and garnish the Butter Chicken with it, It will give a very nice red color to the gravy


Pair this scrumptious Butter Chicken with Naan, Jeera Rice, and some onion rings on the side. I know the process seems time-taking but the taste is worth the effort. ❤ Do try this recipe at home to get the taste of authentic Butter Chicken. Happy Thanksgiving and Have a happy long weekend. 🙂

Serves 5-6


For First Marination

  • 2 lbs chicken (I have used bone-in chicken), make slits
  • 1 Tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp red chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • Salt as required

For Second Marination

  • 1 Tbsp tandoori masala
  • ½ Tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 Tsp black salt
  • 1 ½ Tsp Kasuri methi
  • ½ Cup curd
  • 1 ½ Tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 Tsp oil
  • Salt, if required

For Curry

  • 1 Small onion, fried and grind to a paste (optional)
  • 1 Cup thick tomato paste, canned or made at home (preferably homemade)
  • 12 Cashew nuts, soaked for 2hours and grind to a fine paste
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 3 Green cardamoms
  • 3-4 Cloves
  • 8-10 Black peppercorns
  • ½ Tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp coriander masala
  • 1 Tsp red chili powder, if required
  • 1 Tsp garam masala
  • 1 ½ Tsp Kasuri methi
  • 2 Tbsp cream or unsweetened evaporated milk
  • 2-3Tbsp melted butter
  • Required salt

For Garnishing

  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tsp cream

Learn Step By Step Recipe With Pictures For Butter Chicken | Murgh Makhani Recipe



Step 1- In a large mixing bowl, take the chicken and add Kashmiri red chili powder, red chili powder, lime juice, required salt. Coat the chicken well and leave for 1hour

Step 2- Heat a pan and dry roast the marination masala (tandoori masala, turmeric powder, Kasuri methi, and black salt) on low flame until aromatic. Turn off the flame and remove from the gas stove

Step 3- In another bowl, take curd, dry roasted masala mixture, ginger-garlic paste, required salt, and oil. Whisk well and add the mixture to marinated chicken and coat well with the masala. Cover and leave overnight in the refrigerator

Tandoori Chicken

Take out the chicken from the refrigerator the next day when you are ready to cook. Meanwhile, the tandoori chicken is in the oven prepare the butter chicken gravy side by side.

Step 4-  Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Arrange the marinated chicken on skewers and place them on a baking tray. Once the oven is hot enough turn the temperature to 400ºF.

Bake the chicken for 20mins. Take out the tray, turn around the chicken and again bake for 18-20mins or until the chicken is done. Remove the tandoori chicken to a plate and keep aside. The time may vary depending upon the size of the chicken pieces

Butter Chicken Gravy

Step 5- Heat butter in a pan, saute the whole spices (bay leaves, cinnamon stick, green cardamoms, cloves, black peppercorns, and cumin seeds) until aromatic and then add the onion paste. Fry for 3-4mins on medium flame. Add the tomato paste and the leftover marination masala to the pan.

Cook for 4-5mins on medium flame with the lid covered. Stir in between to avoid sticking to the bottom

Step 6- Add the coriander powder, red chili powder, and the cashew paste. Cover with the lid and cook for 8-10mins on medium-low flame. The curry will be thickened by now

Step 7- Add the required salt and garam masala and 1-2cups of warm water and let it simmer for 2-3mins on medium flame. Add the fresh cream and stir well

Step 8- Lastly, add the tandoori chicken, Kasuri methi and give it a nice mix. Let the curry simmer for 3-4mins until the chicken absorb the flavors of the curry and then garnish with melted butter and fresh cream. Serve warm


Source of information- Food NDTV


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