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  • Writer's pictureJuliet

Third Time's the Charm - Murgh Makani (Butter Chicken)

Maybe putting the title in Hindi will distract you from noticing that this is not the first, not the second, but the third Butter Chicken recipe I’ve tried through this blog. When you are working with a family that likes a teeny amount of spice, but loves Indian flavors, it seems to be the most accessible cooking in the US. This one, endorsed and made with my cooking boyfriend, Jamie Oliver, is the current favorite. The flavors are completely different from the others I’ve tried and it gave me a reason to finally visit the Indian grocery store hidden a mile and a half from my house.

There are two steps - the “tandoori” chicken (in quotes because I don't have a tandoor...just a broiler), then the sauce. I double the sauce, because I love nothing more than saucy rice.



Tandoori Chicken

1 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs cut into bite size pieces [I used chicken breasts]

2 tbsp thick yoghurt/ Greek yoghurt

2 tsp chickpea flour/ gram flour

4 cloves garlic

1” piece ginger peeled

1 green chilli [I omitted]

1 tsp mild paprika

½ tsp chilli powder (or a little more if you’d like it spicy)

½ tsp garam masala powder

1 tsp coriander powder

Pinch cinnamon powder

Salt to taste

Butter for basting

Butter Chicken Sauce:

3 tbsp unsalted butter

10 green cardamom pods lightly crushed

2” cinnamon stick

8 cloves

2 small onions, finely chopped

2 heaped TB grated ginger

2 green chillies slit lengthwise [I omitted]

2 tsp kashmiri chilli powder (or mild paprika)

1 tsp garam masala powder

6 tbsp tomato puree

1 ½ c. heavy cream

4 tbsp honey

2 tbsp Kasoori methi/ fenugreek leaf powder

Salt to taste

Chopped coriander for garnish


First, make the tandoori chicken - this can be cooked a few hours in advance and definitely should be marinated well in advance. Best results come from a longer marinade time.

Add the ginger, garlic and green chilli [if using] in a wet grinder and blend to a smooth paste. Mix the yoghurt with the gram flour in a bowl to get rid of any lumps to form a thick paste like consistency. Add the ginger, garlic chilli paste, paprika, chilli powder, garam masala and coriander powder. Also mix in the ground cinnamon, saffron and salt. Stir well and tip in the chicken pieces and mix well making sure to coat them in the thick marinade. Leave to marinate for a few hours or even overnight if you prefer.

Soak wooden skewers in water, or, even better, use metal. Preheat your broiler to medium/high. Shake off the excess marinade and thread the chicken pieces onto the skewers and place them on a wire rack. Cook under the broiler for 10-20 minutes. Turn the skewers every 5 minutes & baste with melted butter until the juices run clear and they are cooked through slightly charred around the edges.

Once chicken is cooked, start your sauce.

Heat a heavy bottom sauce pan and add the butter. Add green cardamom, cinnamon stick and cloves. Fry for 20 seconds, add the onions and sauté for 5-7 mins on medium heat until they take on a light brown color.

Add the grated ginger and slit green chillies. Fry for a further minute and add the chilli powder, garam masala powder along with the tomato puree. Stir well and cook for a couple of minutes. Now gradually add the double cream, stirring continuously to mix all the spices with the cream. Simmer and cook for 2-3 minutes.

If you, like me, have a child that won’t eat chunky sauces, now is the time to pick out all the cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves (I hope you counted them well!) then blend until smooth.

At this stage add a splash of water if the curry is too thick. Stir in the honey and the fenugreek powder. Season to taste. Now add the cooked chicken pieces and simmer the curry on a low heat for 8-10 minutes.

Garnish with coriander and serve with naan, roti, or paratha. [The Indian grocer had amazing frozen garlic naan!]



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