Murgh makhani (butter chicken)

Murgh Makhani Butter Chicken

Murgh makhani (butter chicken)

In my continuing attempt to find the perfect cook-at-home Indian dish, I have probably put my life into my own hands by cooking what (I understand) is considered one of those recipes any chef cooking Indian cuisine should know like the back of his hand – Murgh makhani (butter chicken). I’ve hunted high and low for the perfect recipe and it’s clear that this is one of those dishes that varies from chef to chef.  So, here’s my version and while it not be wholly traditional, it pleases my tastebuds!

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  • 8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon of garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon of turmeric
  • ½ tablespoon of  garlic paste
  • ½ tablespoon of  ginger paste
  • 1¾ fluid ounces / 50ml yoghurt
  • ½ tablespoon of  Kashmiri chilli powder
  • salt to taste
  • ¾ ounce / 20g ghee
  • ginger, thumb sized piece, grated
  • 2 green chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon of chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon of ground fenugreek
  • 1lb 12¼ ounces / 800g tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato purée
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • Single cream to serve


Combine all the chicken ingredients in a bowl and add the chicken, coating well.  Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours.

Heat your ghee in a large frying pan and add your ginger, chillies and garlic and fry for a minute or so before adding the cardamom, chilli powder, coriander, garam masala, turmeric and fenugreek.

Give a good stir and fry for another couple of minutes until the pan is giving off the pungent fragrance of your spices.

Add the tomatoes, stir and then simmer for 15 minutes.

Transfer to a food processor (carefully, to avoid burning yourself) and blitz.  Pass through a sieve into a clean pan, add the tomato puree and honey, stir and simmer for another 15 minutes.

While you’re doing this, put your chicken under a grill until cooked through and just as your sauce is almost ready, add the chicken for the last couple of minutes.

Season to taste and serve with rice and single cream to drizzle over the top.


Murgh makhani (Hindi: मुर्ग़ मक्खनी), meaning “butter chicken” is a traditional mildly spiced recipe which is rooted in Punjabi cuisine. Its international popularity is credited to Kundan lal Gujral, who owned a restaurant in Delhi called Moti Mahal (Palace of Pearl) Delux (now a global chain called Moti Mahal). He was a Punjabi Hindu who emigrated to Delhi in 1947 as a result of the post-colonial partition of India, bringing his recipe with him. The restaurant became one of Delhi’s major gastronomic attractions beloved by Indians and international visitors alike, including Pandit Nehru and Rajiv and Sanjay Gandhi. Nehru had murgh makhani served at state banquets.

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