It can be called Butter Chicken, Murgh Makhani, Chicken Makhani, or Murgh Makhanwala. Either way, an Indian chicken recipe from Delhi is now yours!


1 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 tbsp tandoori masala
1/2 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp clove powder
2 tsp red chili powder (to taste)
1 tsp salt (to taste)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp cinnamon powder
4 tsp unflavored yoghurt
2 medium tomatoes, blended to paste
2 medium onions, chopped
2 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
3 tbsp powdered cashews
3 tbsp slivered almonds
1 bay leaf, crushed
1/2 tsp saffron
2 tbsp cilantro, chopped (to taste)
4 tbsp ghee
Whipping cream


1. Prepare a marinade by mixing cardamom, cinnamon, clove, cumin, garam masala, lemon juice, salt, and tandoori masala into 2 tbsp yoghurt.

2. Stir chicken cubes into marinade until evenly coated. Let marinade for 2 hours or more (overnight if possible).

3. Melt 2 tbsp ghee in a karai (or wok/large frying pan). Fry the chicken until well done. Drain and set chicken aside in a bowl.

4. Melt 2 tbsp ghee in karai. Fry onions until golden.

5. Add ginger-garlic paste. Keep stirring onions and paste to prevent from sticking, sprinkling on water occasionally to help prevent sticking. Fry until oil separates.

6. Add bay leaf, cashew, chili powder, saffron and tomato paste. Allow to cook for 10 minutes.

7. Add almonds, chicken and 1 tbsp cream. Cook until done.

8. Add cilantro. Stir in several tbsp of cream to taste, until sauce has the desired color, consistency and taste.


Deep South Butter Chicken


  • 2T butter
  • 1 large onion
  • 1C Oil of choice (I used canola)
  • ½t cinnamon
  • 7 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 2t crushed \ grated ginger
  • ½t turmeric powder
  • 2t chili powder
  • 1T coriander (ground)
  • ½t whole cloves
  • ½C whole raw almonds (ground)
  • 1 can whole/chopped peeled tomatoes
  • 1T tomato paste
  • ½C yoghurt (I used unsweetened greek)
  • ½C liquid cream
  • 1 Chicken (size 18 large)

C=Cup, t=teaspoon, T=tablespoons


Assuming you have all the ingredients, this should be easy to make, no marinating required. I first made this on Guy Fawkes day 2005 and consider it one of my better interpretations of an indian dish to date. A note about the units - when cooking Indian food, one isn't baking, so a strict adherance to chemical ratios is not so important, most Indian chefs worth their salt, when cooking use the non-metric unit of "a handful". Hopefully after tasting this, you will never settle for a bottle of simmer sauce again.


  1. Heat the oil and butter in a stock pot on low.
  2. Add chopped onions.
  3. Stir in the cinnamon.
  4. While this is sauting, remove the breasts from the chicken and dice.**
  5. When the onions are clear, add garlic and ginger, 5 minutes later add all spices. Their flavors now infuse in the oil, an essential step.*
  6. Add ground almonds (also in coffee grinder)
  7. Add chicken (still on a low heat).It may be necessary to add more oil to prevent the mixture sticking - don't hesitate.
  8. When the outside of the chicken meat turns white add the undrained tomatoes, including liquid and also add the tomato paste and cream.
  9. Increase temperature to boil then simmer until your ancestors tell you "it is time" I find this is about after about ½ an hour of stirring at low to medium temperature.
  10. Finally stir in the yoghurt and serve when heat has returned to the dish with Indian condiments, breads and rice as wish. I find basmati rice a simple complement.

*I use a coffee grinder to reduce any whole spices to powder, when whole spices are available.

**I use the rest of the chicken break down as legs for later and carcass for soup. In my country whole chickens are much cheaper than breast meat, which you might be curious to note is the more expensive chicken meat in western countries, in Asia and Russia, stronger tasting leg meat is preferred and hence more expensive.

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