Butter Chicken / FoodLovesWriting.com

Butter Chicken / FoodLovesWriting.com

Butter Chicken / FoodLovesWriting.com

Butter Chicken / FoodLovesWriting.com

Today’s recipe is a homemade version of our favorite kind of Indian takeout—butter chicken, also known as murgh makhani—a creamy, tender dish with a tomato-based cream sauce and a kick of heat. When you Google the term, there are 58 million results (84,000 if you use quotation marks), so, we realize, it’s not like the Internet world needs another version; but then, I suppose you could make the same argument about food blog (2 billion results and counting), and, here we are, still doing that. Tim and I attended a workshop about work this weekend, I don’t mean it was for work, but rather, literally, it was about work as a concept in itself, and while we confronted, mostly, the philosophies behind our day jobs and why we do them and how they are, in small ways, mimicking the One who brings order out of chaos and beauty out of dust, we also thought about the work we do that isn’t paid for (or paid for by much). Cleaning the kitchen. Vacuuming the house. Organizing the bathroom pantry. Repairing the car. Updating the blog. There could be a million (or, okay, 2 billion) other people doing the same thing, but it’s still meaningful. It’s fulfilling right in our soul—because “whenever we bring order out of chaos, whenever we draw out creative potential, whenever we elaborate and ‘unfold’ creation beyond where it was when we found it, we are following God’s pattern of creative cultural development.’” (Tim Keller, Every Good Endeavor)

What’s great about butter chicken is that it’s basically gateway Indian food: There’s nothing terribly unusual about it, nothing besides the spices, perhaps, but even those (ginger? garlic? turmeric? chili powder?) aren’t all that strange. It’s spicy, sure, but you control the heat: We tend to take an “add as we go” approach to dishes like these, adding a little hot factor at a time until we get it where we like. With that in mind, the recipe below is a guide, based on what we did, but you should feel free to adjust to your tastes.

p.s. If you liked this recipe, you might also like previous Indian dishes we’ve posted, such as:

Butter Chicken

By: FoodLovesWriting.com

Serving Size: 2 to 4 servings

Butter Chicken

This recipe is lightly adapted from The Iron You, where it was adapted from Mike's friend Namrata, who adapted it from her mom, which, if nothing else, reminds me that the passing on of recipes is often a lot like the childhood game Telephone. Tender, spicy, and creamy, this dish pairs nicely with cooked grains like the tricolored quinoa we used and/or pitas or naan, either of which help scoop up all the extra sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 medium (533 g) onions, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger (from about a 1-inch piece of ginger root)
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated garlic (from about 2 minced garlic cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more to taste
  • 6 tablespoons strained tomatoes
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons full-fat yogurt
  • 1 pound of boneless chicken thighs, cubed
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish
  • Cooked rice or quinoa, for serving

Directions:

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. When the pan is hot, add all the chopped onions; it will be a huge mound, and you might think, woah, that’s a lot of onions, but it’s okay. Let this mixture cook 5 to 6 minutes, until onions are soft and translucent. Stir in grated ginger, minced garlic, and all the spices (coriander, chili powder, turmeric, cayenne, salt); let this mixture sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, until spices are fragrant.

Add tomatoes, cook another 3 to 5 minutes, stirring while mixture cooks, until everything is well incorporated and mixed together. Remove pan from heat.

Transfer this mixture carefully to Vitamix or food processor and pureé until smooth. Return to pan, turn heat to low, and add milk and chicken, stir together, and cover the pan. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until meat is cooked through.

Once meat is cooked through, remove lid, lower heat, add yogurt, and let cook, uncovered, for another 10 minutes, until liquids reduce and meat softens.

Taste and adjust for salt. Garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve with rice or quinoa (or your favorite grain).

http://foodloveswriting.com/2014/01/19/butter-chicken/
Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 40 Comments

  1. Madison

    I’ve heard about butter chicken many times but have never made it! I have no idea why. I guess it’s just because we usually stick to chana masala when we make Indian food because it’s comfortable and easy. :)

    Thanks for the encouragement about the value of everyday work and life. It can be so easy to forget the purpose in it all, especially when you think about the big picture.

  2. Sophia

    I initially popped on over because I wanted to tell you and Tim how much I have been enjoying your photos lately – if they are all taken with that new lens of yours, it was certainly a worthy investment. The shots look absolutely dreamy!

    As for ‘work’, whether it is meaningful, whether we enjoy it, whether it is actual paid work, I have been thinking about this a lot these last few days. Especially since coming across an article in Slate (http://slate.me/1fFPSqR) on that very topic and how elitist a notion it is to ‘love what you do’. Even if I don’t agree 100% with everything the author says (seemingly assuming that one cannot enjoy manual labor or the idea that turning your passion into a job is the be-all-end-all – plenty of creatives say that turning their passion into a job killed said passion), it is a great read.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Aw, thanks, Sophia! We are loving the new camera, as well as Lightroom, which I kind of feel like I waited waaaay too long to jump in and buy. : ) Also, I saw that same article! I didn’t agree with everything either, but I think there are definitely some nuggets of truth in there. Still thinking about them.

  3. Kathryn

    This is what my boyfriend nearly always orders when we have Indian but I usually find it to heavy and creamy for me – love the idea of the yoghurt in this to lighten it up without losing any of that sense of luxury. Lovely.

  4. jessiev

    I’ve been waiting for this and didn’t even know it. Will make this week – thank you! It’s the perfect warming dish for cold winter. And yes, I’ve been thinking a lot about work lately, too – quality over quantity.

  5. felicia | Dish by Dish

    hey shanna! I’ve never made butter chicken before but I think it’s gonna be on my menu soon! plus, i loved that you paired it with quinoa! (this is one of the rare occasions that i see u mention quinoa, and it’s an ingredient I love so much! )

    sending love,
    F.

  6. Jennifer T

    I’ll have to make this for my husband! It looks delicious! His favorite meal that I make is PW’s chicken tikka masala, and we’d love to branch out into other dishes in that genre.

  7. Ashley-Marie

    I only tried butter chicken for the first time about 6 months ago (I’ve never been a big fan of Indian fare so I’ve avoided it, stupidly), but now I love it. So awesome that you posted this recipe, I’m really looking forward to making it at home! Thanks Shannon =)

    Ashley-Marie

  8. Natasha

    I made this tonight for dinner, and it was marvelous! We paired it with brown basmati rice with peas and homemade mango margaritas (a la our favorite Indian restaurant in town). Delicious! I am so happy to have this recipe for when a craving for an Indian meal hits. Thank you!

      1. Joanna

        I love that your mom posts on your blog. I also wanted to drop by to say I’m making this again for us this week AND for a friend of mine who just had a baby. It’s just the type of exciting, nourishing, easy to reheat meal I think I’d want. You are my favorite.

  9. April

    Wow! Made this tonight and it really blew us away – great complexity of flavors for such a simply made meal. It’s on the rotation now for sure. So impressed.
    I used chicken breasts, but tenderized/smashed them beforehand, used non-fat yogurt and a mix of half & half and water for the milk. It was the best Indian food I’ve made so far.
    Thank you!

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  12. Diedre

    I’m new to cooking Indian. Love to eat it, new to cooking it myself. In the body of the recipe it calls for 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. Yet in the directions there is no call for the cayenne but for cardamon. Was that an auto correct error such that the ingredients should read 1/2 tsp cardamon (ground I assume?)rather than the cayenne? Is the chili powder the same as called for in a southwestern chili recipe? Please clarify. Thank you.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Diedre, Yes! It should have said cayenne in the directions, so I just went and changed it now. Thanks for letting us know! And the chili powder is a type of spice they sell in the store. It’s labeled as “chili powder” right with all the other spices and stuff. I’m not sure what you mean by the chili powder in a Southwestern chili… if it’s like a package of spices, then no. If it’s the jar of chili powder, yes! : ) Hope that helps.

  13. Holly Stephenson

    Shanna, just dropping in to say that I’m going to give this recipe a go next week (plan ahead, much?!). I had butter chicken with a friend at an indian joint in our hood last week, and thought… “butter chicken is totally gateway indian food! Didn’t Shanna say that??” And here I see that you did… I’m determined to make Chase into an indian food lover with this! Wish me luck :)

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