Classic butter chicken

Classic butter chicken with succulent homemade chicken tikkas and buttery creamy makhni gravy that tastes as good as the restaurants, heck even better! A bowl of this classic butter chicken and some rice is all you need to warm the cockles of your heart again. Make this soon. 

classic butter chicken

Butter Chicken. These two words have probably done more for putting Indian cuisine on a global platter than any other dish we can think of. Those who want to refute and say its Biriyani or Chicken Tikka are simply living in denial and I dont fall into that category, unless of course you are talking about my beautiful love handles, in which case I am like “What love handles”!!? 

Here’s a little about the history  of this iconic dish. Whether it is myth, legend or truth, that I leave for you to decide.The verity of it can’t really be proven and I don’t really see any reason why that should stop you from enjoying gluttonously savoring this master of a creation, the classic butter chicken.

As goes the old saying necessity is the mother of all inventions –It was the  mere need to sell the chicken tikka , which went a little dry hanging by the side of hot tandoors that lead to the invention of the legendary Makhani gravy or the Butter Sauce , so that the chicken could be drowned in this sauce to over come the poor tikka’s dry spell . Since then, Butter chicken has also evolved and has been adapted appearing in many avatars all over the world . Like all originals have copies so does the classic butter chicken .Over the years people have experimented with this dish and made their own versions ,some spiced it up with peppers, some put extra dollops of butter with Cashew paste , few have been making with paste of dry nuts , some made a healthy version of the dish claiming to use olive oil instead of butter (or should I say taking the buttered soul of chicken away ) and so on. Lately a new form of a Butter chicken has been created called The Anarkali and the creators claim to have created a classiest version of the Butter chicken and priced a Rs 6000 ($90) – a portion! 
I had made Butter chicken many times previously. Its agiven when you are a little obsessed with food and funnily enough have a partner who shares your obsession. But the recipe for my favorite variation is the one I am sharing with you today. 
Classic butter chicken
This classic butter chicken comes together pretty quickly and will satiate all your tastebuds quite easily. The color wont be the red of the restaurants since this classic butter chicken is au naturel but the flavor?? Woof!! Off the charts my friends. I must go work on the book and a million other things now. You?? You need to make a quick trip to the market and get some chicken pronto! Promise to try this classic butter chicken soon and tell e how you liked it. Tuck in!
As always please PIN the above image if you like the recipe! Thank you lovelies.
classic butter chicken

4.5 from 2 votes

Classic Butter Chicken

Classic butter chicken with succulent homemade chicken tikkas and creamy makhni gravy that tastes as good as the restaurants, heck even better! A bowl of this classic butter chicken and some rice is all you need to warm the cockles of your heart again. Make this soon. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 3 people


For the Chicken tikka marinade

  • 2 whole chicken breasts or thigh meat cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 3 tbsp fresh cream/ yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1/8 tsp turmeric
  • salt as needed
  • 1 tbsp Tandoori chicken masala powder I use Everest. But you can use MDH or even Patak's paste if you find it.
  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek ,dry roasted on tawa and crushed
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1/2 juice of lemon
  • melted butter for basting the tikka

For the Makhni Gravy

  • 1 large red onion chopped
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1 green chili
  • 6 tomatoes pureed. or about 1 cup tomato puree
  • 50 ml fresh cream (about 2 tbsp)
  • 50 gms butter
  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • fresh cilantro for garnish
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • pinch of hing (asofoetida) optional


For the chicken tikka

  1. Clean and cut the chicken. Salt it acc to taste. Mix everything in the marinade in a bowl. Now marinade the chicken with this mixture. Dont use all if its not needed. It should coat all the pieces thickly so some marinade might be left. You can use leftover marinade for paneer tikkas or even tandoori aloo/potato. 

    Preheat the oven to 180C. Grill the pieces on a skewer for 5 mins. Baste with melted butter every two minutes. Then turn, baste and grill for another 2 minutes. 

    Now turn the oven to 210 C. Broil the chicken with a final baste of melted butter/ghee for 2 minutes till slightly charred. Remove and keep aside. 

For the makhni gravy.

  1. Start by making the fresh tomato puree by blanching the tomatoes for 10 minutes, remove the skin, chop and grind till pureed. Set aside. 

    Now heat 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter in a deep bottomed pan. Add the cardamom, cinnamon and clove. Now add the ginger, garlic, green chili and onion. Saute till pink and raw smell leaves. 

    Add the tomato puree,salt in the pan and let it simmer , stirring occasionally till the oil separates from the sides., almost 20 minutes. If needed add a little water to prevent sticking. 

    Remove the whole spices and blend the sauce. Push it through a strainer so that its silky smooth. 

    Next, heat a pan with butter, pour the strained sauce into the pan and heat. Add all the spices and the crushed kasuri methi (dried fenugreek). Let it simmer for 10 mins. Add 1/4 cup warm water if the sauce is too thick. 

    Add in the chicken , stir for a 3-4 minutes.  Add the cream on low flame, mix and remove quickly, in a min. Make sure the cream is at room temperature before adding. 

    As a final touch pour a simple tadka of ghee and a pinch of hing (asofoetida) and more Kashmiri red chili powder if desired. Drizzle with a little (1/2 tsp) honey, fresh cream and cilantro and serve!

    Serve hot with plain jeera/cumin rice or naan for a perfect cozy dinner. Don't forget a glass of cold mango lassi for the complete Indian experience.

Recipe Notes

Its ideal to marinate the chicken for at least 6-8 hours to upto 20 hours even. But as a mere minimum please give it 30 mins of marination time. 

The gravy (make it all the way except adding the cream part) will keep in refrigerator for 3 days and in the frezzer in a sealed bag for 3 months. Bring to room temperature and proceed with the last step. Add in an extra dollop of butter!

You can also use rotisserie chicken tikka if you dont wish to make the tikka yourself. 

The gravy isnt a red color as you see in restaurants coz its au naturel.Also the color will depend on the color of the tomatoes to a great extent. You can add a tbsp of passatta to the tomato puree to make it a richer red. The flavor though is spot on. 


3 thoughts

  1. What’s crackin’?

    Extremely go through this article. I have never seen such beautiful article before anywhere excluding Lapetitchef In Network. I absolutely love this post regarding Classic Butter Chicken. Thanks for sharing!

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