Butter chicken, also known as murgh makhani, is a popular Indian dish that has gained international recognition for its rich and creamy flavors. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to the butter chicken recipe, including its origins, ingredients, cooking techniques, and variations. Whether you are a seasoned chef or a beginner in the kitchen, this article will help you create a mouthwatering butter chicken dish that will impress your family and friends.

The Origins of Butter Chicken

Butter chicken has its roots in the Indian subcontinent, specifically in the city of Delhi. It was invented by Kundan Lal Gujral, the founder of the famous restaurant Moti Mahal, in the 1950s. The dish was created as a way to use leftover tandoori chicken, which was marinated in yogurt and spices and cooked in a traditional clay oven called a tandoor. Gujral decided to simmer the leftover chicken in a tomato-based gravy, enriched with butter and cream, to prevent it from drying out. This innovative technique resulted in the creation of butter chicken, a dish that has since become a staple in Indian cuisine.

The Ingredients

To make a delicious butter chicken, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 500 grams of boneless chicken, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup of plain yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons of ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon of red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander powder
  • 1 cup of tomato puree
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnishing

The Cooking Process

Now that you have gathered all the necessary ingredients, let’s dive into the cooking process:

  1. Marinating the chicken: In a bowl, mix the yogurt, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, red chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, cumin powder, coriander powder, and salt. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade and coat them well. Let the chicken marinate for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight, in the refrigerator.
  2. Cooking the chicken: Heat oil in a pan and add the marinated chicken. Cook until the chicken is browned and cooked through. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside.
  3. Preparing the gravy: In the same pan, melt the butter and add the tomato puree. Cook the puree for a few minutes until it thickens. Add the cooked chicken to the pan and mix well with the tomato gravy.
  4. Adding the cream: Pour the heavy cream into the pan and stir it into the gravy. Simmer the mixture for a few minutes until the flavors meld together and the gravy thickens.
  5. Garnishing and serving: Garnish the butter chicken with fresh coriander leaves and serve it hot with naan bread or steamed rice.

Variations of Butter Chicken

While the traditional butter chicken recipe is undoubtedly delicious, there are several variations that you can explore to add your own twist to the dish. Here are a few popular variations:

  • Butter Paneer: Replace the chicken with paneer, a type of Indian cottage cheese, to create a vegetarian version of butter chicken.
  • Butter Chicken Pizza: Use butter chicken as a topping for pizza to create a fusion dish that combines Indian and Italian flavors.
  • Butter Chicken Biryani: Layer cooked butter chicken with fragrant basmati rice to create a flavorful biryani dish.
  • Butter Chicken Pasta: Toss butter chicken with cooked pasta for a unique and delicious fusion dish.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I use bone-in chicken for butter chicken?

Yes, you can use bone-in chicken for butter chicken. However, the cooking time may vary, and you may need to adjust it accordingly.

2. Can I make butter chicken without cream?

Yes, you can make a lighter version of butter chicken by substituting the cream with yogurt or coconut milk. This will result in a slightly different flavor but will still be delicious.

3. Is butter chicken spicy?

Butter chicken is typically mild in terms of spiciness. However, you can adjust the amount of red chili powder according to your taste preferences.

4. Can I freeze butter chicken?

Yes, you can freeze butter chicken. Allow it to cool completely, then transfer it to an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

5. What can I serve with butter chicken?

Butter chicken is traditionally served with naan bread or steamed rice. You can also serve it with roti, paratha, or even mashed potatoes.


Butter chicken is a delectable Indian dish that combines tender chicken with a rich and creamy tomato-based gravy. Its origins in Delhi and the innovative cooking technique used by Kundan Lal Gujral have made it a beloved dish worldwide. By following the simple recipe provided in this article, you can create a mouthwatering butter chicken that will impress your taste buds. Don’t be afraid to experiment with variations and add your own twist to this classic dish. Enjoy the flavors of India in the comfort of your own home!


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