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Easy Indian Butter Chicken Recipe

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Liza is a homemaker. She has an obsession with coffee and loves photography, baking, cooking, and writing.

Eating naan bread with butter chicken with my hand.

Eating naan bread with butter chicken with my hand.

Butter Chicken

Butter chicken is one of my favorite Indian meals to cook at home. It is similar to chicken tikka masala, but the spices are different. My husband and I love Indian food for its authenticity and variety. When we go out for lunch or dinner at an Indian restaurant, there are so many delicious dishes on the menu. Sometimes we even feel overwhelmed by all of the choices!

Spicy and Creamy Sauce

Over the weekend, I decided to cook butter chicken for dinner. We just can't get enough of the spicy and creamy tomato sauce that is cooked with a generous amount of butter. We love it so much, in fact, that we became interested in learning how to prepare this dish at home. Plus, it's a great chance for us to eat with our hands. In India and Malaysia, it is traditional to eat with the right hand, particularly when eating local dishes. I grew up with this tradition, but it's a new skill for my husband. We love eating this dish with fresh, homemade naan bread or steamed basmati rice.

Use Real Spices

Though this dish requires time and can be a little bit tedious to prepare, it is so worth it. Most of the ingredients are readily available at Asian or Indian stores. I recommend using the real spices and ingredients wherever possible in order to get the most authentic taste.

By the way, the amount of chicken I use is plenty to serve 3 to 4 people. I prefer to make extra so that we can have leftovers the next day. By the way, you also can double the recipe if you are planning to serve more people. Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to three days.


For the marinade:

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  • 2 skinless chicken breast, cut into small pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated or chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the sauce:

  • 1 cup half and half or heavy cream
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 large yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup water (optional)

For serving:

  • Steamed basmati rice
  • Naan bread
  • Chopped fresh cilantro or parsley for garnish


  1. Marinate the chicken: In a large bowl, combine the chicken with the garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander, curry powder, garam masala, salt, and pepper. Use your hand to incorporate the spices with the chicken. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and let the chicken sit in the fridge 1-2 hours (the longer it marinates, the better it gets).
  2. Make the sauce: In a large pan, heat the oil and butter over a moderately high heat. Saute the onions and green bell pepper, continue stirring until light brown caramelized about 5 minutes. Add the chicken and the leftover chicken marinade into the pan. Let the chicken cook through and browned on both sides.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the tomato paste with half and half or heavy cream. Add some water if you want the sauce to loosen a little bit. Bring the sauce to boil. Stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.
  4. At this point, you can add some salt or sugar to suit your palate.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Serve immediately with steamed basmati rice or naan bread. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley or cilantro.
  7. Enjoy while it's hot.

© 2018 Liza

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