Authentic Butter Chicken

This authentic butter chicken, also known as “Murgh Makhani,” is a delicious chicken curry from Delhi, India. It’s incredibly flavorful, with a balance of spices and a rich and creamy sauce.

Authentic butter chicken in a bowl

Ingredients and Substitutes

Some of the ingredients can be harder to source outside of India, so here are my tips on how to find those tougher-to-find ingredients, plus any easier-to-source substitutes if available.

Kasuri Methi (Dried Fenugreek Leaves):

  • Substitute: There isn’t an exact replacement that captures its unique flavor. It’s best to omit it if unavailable.
  • Where to find: Many Indian or South Asian grocery stores stock Kasuri Methi. It might also be available in the international aisle of larger supermarkets or online specialty stores.

Mustard Oil:

  • Substitute: A neutral oil like grapeseed or sunflower oil can be an alternative, though the flavor profile will change.
  • Where to find: Mustard oil is commonly found in Indian groceries and sometimes in well-stocked supermarkets’ organic or natural food sections.

Hung Curd or Thick Yogurt:

  • Substitute: Greek yogurt serves as an easy replacement.
  • Where to find: Hung curd can be hard to find in the US. However, you can make it at home by draining regular yogurt through a cheesecloth.

Kashmiri Red Chili Powder:

  • Substitute: A mix of sweet paprika (for the color) and a touch of cayenne pepper (for the heat) can be an alternative.
  • Where to find: This chili powder is typical in Indian or South Asian grocery stores and also online.

Tandoori Masala:

  • Substitute: If you can’t find store-bought Tandoori Masala, consider making a homemade version.
  • Where to find: Most Indian groceries or international aisles in large supermarkets will have tandoori masala. If not, online retailers often stock it.
Chicken butter in a dish

Expert Tips

Marination: Even though the recipe allows for immediate use after marinating, an extended marinating period lets the chicken absorb more flavors. If you plan on marinating your chicken for longer, 3-4 hours or overnight in the fridge will give you the most flavorful results.

Charring the Chicken: While pan-cooking delivers succulent chicken, grilling it briefly after pan-cooking introduces a charred exterior that adds another layer of smokiness. Traditional tandoors achieve this effortlessly, but a quick grill or even a stovetop flame can mimic this effect. Aim for slightly charred edges without overcooking.

Achieving Makhani Gravy Consistency: The heart of butter chicken is its rich Makhani Gravy. Adjust the consistency of the gravy while it’s cooking by adding more water if it’s too thick or simmering it longer if it’s too thin. Remember, it should be thick and coat the chicken well but still be pourable.

Sahil next to a pan of butter chicken

Storage and Leftovers

Refrigeration: Transfer the Butter Chicken into an airtight container and refrigerate promptly. It will stay fresh for up to 3-4 days when stored properly.

Freezing: If you intend to keep it for an extended period, you can freeze the Butter Chicken. Portion it into freezer-safe bags or containers. Properly stored, it can last for up to 3 months. Remember to label it with a date for easy reference.

Reheating: For the best taste, reheat only the amount you plan to consume. Use a microwave or stovetop, ensuring the chicken is heated thoroughly. If using a microwave, stir midway to ensure even reheating. For frozen leftovers, it’s ideal to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

The dish’s creamy consistency might change slightly upon freezing and thawing. Although the delicious flavors will still be there!

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Authentic butter chicken in a bowl

Authentic Butter Chicken

This authentic butter chicken, also known as "Murgh Makhani," is a delicious chicken curry from Delhi, India. It's incredibly flavorful, with a balance of spices and a rich and creamy sauce.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 minute
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 2
Calories 813 kcal



For the Chicken Marinade:

  • 500 g Chicken
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
  • 1/2 Lime juiced
  • 1 tbsp Mustard Oil
  • 2 tbsp Hung Curd or Thick Yogurt with reduced water
  • 1 tsp Kasuri Methi dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tbsp Tandoori Masala

For the Smoked Butter:

  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • Coal

For the Makhani Gravy:

  • 1 tsp Oil
  • 1 tsp Ghee
  • 2 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
  • 3 Green Cardamom
  • 1 Black Cardamom
  • 3 Cloves
  • 1 Stick Cinnamon
  • 1/4 piece Mace
  • 100 g Red onion
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 10 g Ginger chopped
  • 10 g Garlic chopped
  • 10 g Coriander stems
  • 500 g Tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri Red Chili Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Cumin Powder
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1/2 tsp Garam Masala Powder
  • 30 g Cashews
  • Water as required

For Final Assembly:

  • 1 tsp Kasuri Methi dried fenugreek leaves
  • 30-50 ml Heavy Cream
  • 1 tsp Honey adjust to taste


  • Marinate Chicken: Combine chicken, salt, Kashmiri red chili powder, ginger garlic paste, and lime juice in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk mustard oil, Kashmiri red chili powder, yogurt, Kasuri Methi, and tandoori masala. Add marinated chicken to this mixture and set aside.
  • Smoke the Chicken: Place a folded aluminium foil over a ramekin, forming a cup-like shape. Add butter to the ramekin. Place both inside the bowl with marinated chicken. Heat the charcoal on a stove, place in the foil cup, drizzle ghee over it, and cover the bowl with a lid to smoke.
  • Prepare Makhani Gravy: Heat ghee and butter in a deep sauté pan over medium. Add cumin seeds, cardamom (both types), cloves, cinnamon, mace, and red onion. Sauté until aromatic. Stir in bay leaf, garlic, ginger, coriander stems, tomatoes, salt, chili powder, cumin, turmeric, coriander, and garam masala. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add water, cashews, cover, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Once cooled slightly, blend to a smooth gravy.
  • Cook Chicken: In a large non-stick pan, cook chicken over medium heat. Optionally, give a quick grill over an open flame or tandoor. Let it rest and slice into strips.
  • Combine and Serve: Strain Makhani Gravy through a sieve into a sauté pan. Add chicken, honey, Kasuri Methi, heavy cream, and smoked butter. Stir well. Serve garnished with additional Kasuri Methi, cream, and smoked butter.


Calories: 813kcalCarbohydrates: 40gProtein: 53gFat: 53gSaturated Fat: 23gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 19gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 215mgSodium: 2957mgPotassium: 1899mgFiber: 8gSugar: 15gVitamin A: 3075IUVitamin C: 46mgCalcium: 168mgIron: 6mg
Keyword authentic butter chicken
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