Indian Butter Chicken in Tomato Cream Sauce (Murgh Makhani Curry)

Indian Butter Chicken in Tomato Cream Sauce (Murgh Makhani Curry) Recipe

Murgh Makhani is a moist tender chicken in a pink sauce. The pink sauce is a blend of butter (mmm... butter!), heavy cream, tomato sauce, lime juice, almond flour and a few spices. The tenderizing process is similar to my soy sauce roasted cornish game hen.

Murgh Makhani is usually served with naans (Indian round fluffy bread made of white flour), basmati rice or some roti (flat Indian wheat bread).

First, I marinate the chicken overnight in a papaya and yogurt mixture. It's the best way to tenderize the meat.

Murgh Makhani


Yields: 6

2 lbs chicken thighs, skinless
4 Tbs full-fat Greek yogurt
1 Tbs papaya, ground
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 Tbs canola oil
2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp coriander powder, freshly ground
1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1 Tbs sour cream
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 can tomato sauce, (14 oz)
1 tomato, coarsely diced
1/4 cup almond flour
2 yellow onions
2 whole jalapeno green chili peppers, stemmed
3 Tbs unsalted butter
2 tsp smoked paprika powder
1 tsp red chili powder
1 Tbs fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 Tbs lime juice, freshly squeezed


Wash the chicken thighs, then pat dry with a paper towel.

Mix the ground papaya and 2 tablespoons of yogurt together. Make 2 long parallel cuts on the flesh of the thighs using a sharp boning knife. Cover the meat inside and out with yogurt and papaya. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, rinse the chicken and discard all the yogurt. Pat dry.

In a large deep saucepan, heat up about 1 tablespoon (or more) of oil. Cook the onions until nicely golden. Drain and reserve the oil and set the fried onions aside.

In a mini-blender, mix the onions, about 2 tablespoons of water, the sour cream and the rest of the yogurt into a thick paste. Set aside.

In the same large deep saucepan, use about 2 tablespoons of the onion-flavored oil. Brown the chicken on each side. As soon as all pieces are nicely golden, add coarsely diced fresh tomatoes, ginger garlic paste, red chili powder, coriander powder and cinnamon powder and about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of water. This should barely cover the chicken. Bring to a full boil then lower the heat to medium-high. Cover with a dome-shaped lid to enable the steam to fall back in the saucepan. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the tomato paste and the tomato sauce. Season with salt. Cook for another 8-10 minutes. Thicken the sauce with almond flour to get a homogenous texture. Add the whole chiles.

Taste the sauce. Depending on how sweet your tomatoes are, add the container of onion paste. I ended up adding only 4 tablespoons because the fresh tomato was pretty sweet and flavorful. Bring back to a full boil. Add the heavy cream to thin the sauce a little. Finish with the lime juice. Stir well.

In a small pan, melt the butter. As soon as the butter is melted, add the smoked paprika. Transfer the paprika-flavored butter to the chicken.

Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Bon appétit!

Butter Chicken



I love the tenderness of chicken thighs and legs but you can use chicken breast as well.

You can use the same base for the sauce and make this dish with goat meat, which is pretty common in Indian cooking.

Carole, this note is for you: I used curly parsley as a garnish for the dish since I know you don't like cilantro.

I usually grind a papaya and its seeds in a mini food processor then place it in an ice-cube tray then freeze it. I transfer the ice-cubes 3 by 3 into bags that I vacuum-seal and place back in the freezer. I think it's the best way to keep the same flavor without getting freezer burn. I keep them exactly the same way I would do with my extra pesto.

You can either buy ready-made almond flour, or make it yourself. Remember to get a little more than 125 grams of whole almonds to get the correct amount of flour. Place whole almonds in a metal bowl, then cover them with boiling water. Let it sit for no longer than 2 minutes. Strain and transfer them into a cold water bath. Pat them dry on a towel, and the skins should come right off. Then grind them with a food processor or spice grinder. Make sure you stop before it turns into almond butter. I use the VitaMix Dry Blade Container. The result should be a fine white mill.

Indian cuisine always call for ginger garlic paste. It tastes great and is very healthy for you as well. Just clean the ginger and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife, then finely chop the root. Place the chopped ginger and 5 cloves of garlic in a blender, add about 2 tablespoons (or more) of water for a smooth flow. Transfer to a small jar and store in the refrigerator. You can keep this paste for at least a week in the refrigerator.



UPDATE: I've noticed some comments from other cooks asking if there is a light version of this dish. The funny thing is that I actually reduced a bit of the fat from the original recipe from Baji (Lulu's grandma). Traditional Indian cooking calls for a layer of red colored oil on top of the dish. This is considered an attractive decoration in India. We make this infrequently enough that I don't mind the butter and cream so much and hey, I'm French, how could I mind the butter and cream. If somebody out there wants to try and make this with non-fat yogurt instead of sour cream and milk instead of heavy cream, let me know how it turns out .

Butter Chicken


Published By: Jacqueline Pham on May 23, 2009.


This looks like heaven in a bowl. I love the rich colour.

Dragon Website Link
[ Posted at 6:49 PM on 5/23/09 | Reply ]
[-] wow - Guest-JessicaFoodmayhem
This recipe is full of so many interesting ingredients. I wish I could taste a piece right now.

Jessica@Foodmayhem Website Link
[ Posted at 8:17 PM on 5/23/09 | Reply ]
I loooove butter chicken. I only wish there were a diet version!

sweetbird Website Link
[ Posted at 11:57 AM on 5/24/09 | Reply ]
Perhaps the most popular Indian dish? It has to be my fave with it's light, creamy flavours and the aroma...Oh the aroma.

Peter Website Link
[ Posted at 12:14 PM on 5/24/09 | Reply ]
[-] Butter Chicken - Guest-Elyse
Um, butter chicken is one of my favorites! That creamy, rich sauce is so excellent. I just adore dipping naan in it. I'm definitely going to have to try out your recipe!! Looks so delicious!

Elyse Website Link
[ Posted at 12:23 AM on 5/25/09 | Reply ]
This looks so yummy!!! I always love butter chicken :)

Farizan Website Link
[ Posted at 11:54 AM on 5/25/09 | Reply ]
Indian sauce is the best and good taste also in potato curry so good...
[ Posted at 11:08 AM on 2/18/14 | Reply ]

Order my latest book:
Banh Mi

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