Butter Chicken

Butter chicken. I *love* this dish but it’s hard to find the right one when I dine out.

I went to a huge restaurant in Birmingham recently who refused my request for a hotter butter chicken, telling me they only served one very mild flavour. Seriously? Just throw in some extra chilli powder, that’ll fix it.

However, the worst experience I had was in Edinburgh where they had added sultanas.  Sultanas in butter chicken – hello?!  Whose bright idea was that?  Sultanas do NOT belong in Indian food.

Thankfully I have my own recipe I’ve been using for years.  I passed it onto a friend who tells me her boyfriend loves it as well as her friends so there is more than one person other than myself who can verify it works and tastes alright.

I’ve studied other recipes but they didn’t capture the taste I was after.  To me butter chicken should be a thick, creamy and buttery.  A lot of these other recipes use yoghurt and other strong spices, but that is more of a tandoori mix (I have a recipe for that too – will post soon) .  One version of butter chicken I made had a really watery gravy sauce – again as wrong as the sultanas debacle.

You can omit the chicken with king prawns (about 300g, deshelled) or a packet of paneer, cubed (indian cheese).  The cooking time will vary obviously as prawns cook relatively quickly.  You may wish to make the paneer cubes quite small so they cook quicker.


100g salted butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp crushed garlic (fresh or paste)
1 tsp crushed ginger (fresh or paste)
1 – 2 tbsp tomato puree
1 green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
a handful of coriander leaves, finely chopped (extra for garnishing)*
½ – 1 tsp red chilli powder (depending on how mild to hot you like it)
100 ml single cream
2 chicken breasts, cubed

*anti coriander brigade leave this out

Serves 3 – 4


  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan (be careful to not let it burn!) and fry the chopped onion until golden brown on medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and stir for a minute or two.  You can use freshly prepared or frozen cubes bought from the supermarket.  If you plan to use fresh, you can make this in advance but be sure to use it up within 3 days.
  3. Then add the green chilli, chopped coriander leaves, tomato puree and chilli powder and fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
  4. Turn down the heat and slowly pour the cream into the mixture (stirring constantly) which will turn from dark red to a creamy, orange colour.  Do not let it boil.  Cook for a few minutes or until the sauce starts to thicken.
  5. Then add the chicken and stir for about 15 minutes, scraping the sides, till the meat has cooked thoroughly but remains soft and tender.
  6. Garnish with coriander leaves and  serve immediately with chapattis, naan bread or rice.

Have a crack at this and let me know how you get on.

TIP 1: Before adding the chicken, blitz the sauce with a hand blender.

TIP 2: If you’re a vegetarian you can substitute the chicken with paneer. Just fry it separately first before adding it to the sauce.



17 Comments Add yours

  1. Lisa Simpson says:

    OH YEAH! I have tasted your butter chicken and I know how good it is!!!! Sharing this recipe for sure!

  2. Sheenie says:

    Have you? I don’t remember!

  3. mmmm, my mouth is watering just looking at it! I will have to have a go this weekend!

  4. bethglossgalore says:

    I’m definitely going to try this, I love butter chicken and this looks so easy! Thank you for sharing! x

    1. Sheenie says:

      A pleasure! x

  5. Rucksana Hussain says:

    stupid brummie restaurant, won’t be going there, we should visit ladypool road and the capital of curry :)…!

    this sounds amazing, ill be trying this…and i assure you it will be HOT..

  6. Tina Chawla says:

    Wow! Can’t wait to try this recipe. Well done on your blog by the way, I always love reading and trying out other people’s experiments. See you soon x

    1. Sheenie says:

      Thank you for stopping by, Tina! Although by the sound of things, you do make some delicious meals too. x

  7. itsnoel says:

    This looks good and like you I’d like a hotter butter chicken without sultanas!! I’ll try it out ASAP 🙂

  8. Sheenie says:

    Amazing! I can’t wait to see how you get on. I’ve had one verdict (complete with photos) from one person already.

  9. Jennifer says:

    can I make this the night before?

  10. Jennifer says:

    Hi there
    sorry I am leaving the same question but with a different email just in case I am not in the office when I get a reply.

    1. Sheenie says:

      Hi Jennifer, I’ve often heated up leftover butter chicken and it’s been absolutely fine.

  11. Heather says:

    BAD IDEA TOO COOK THE CHICKEN IN THE SAUCE as it is so easy for the cream to split. I would say good recipe but cook chicken separate and add to sauce

    1. Sheenie says:

      Thanks for your suggestion, Heather. I’ll definitely try it next time. Have you given this recipe a go?

  12. Irfan says:

    Hi Sheenie, Thankyou for this amazing post I am definitely gonna try this tomorrow I really hope it tum out good and delicious. Also, today I made a chicken Karahi buly using your recipes and believe me it turned out perfect. 🙂 yaay

    1. Sheenie says:

      That’s awesome, Irfan – thanks for letting me know. I’ll pass your compliments to the real chef (my mum!)

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