Even though it's called "Butter Chicken" there isn't a lot of butter in this dish at all. It gets its name from the tender, buttery flavor of the chicken. This classic of Indian cooking isn't as spicy as some more well-known dishes from that part of the world (unless you adjust the spices accordingly), so may be appealing to those who prefer milder dishes, or for kids who are picky eaters.
Traditionally this recipe uses chicken breasts, but you could also use boneless, skinless chicken thighs to make this dish, just be prepared to cook it a bit longer. As mentioned previously, compared to other Indian dishes, this one is quite mild. If you like curry powder, you can double the amount called for in the ingredient list. Add some turmeric or dry ginger if you'd like more color and spicy flavor.
- 2 pounds boneless (skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 onion (thinly sliced)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger root
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1/8 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups tomato puree
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
In a medium bowl, place the chicken pieces and sprinkle with lemon juice, olive oil, and 2 teaspoons curry powder. Toss to coat the chicken and set aside.
In a heavy skillet, cook onion, garlic, and ginger in 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat until fragrant, about 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon curry powder, pepper, salt, tomato puree, and 2 tablespoons butter and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
Stir the marinated chicken pieces into the sauce in the skillet. Bring back to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 11 to 15 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked to 165 F as tested with a meat thermometer. Stir in heavy cream or milk and serve Butter Chicken over hot cooked rice (basmati, if you can).
And season to taste. No recipe can be all things to all people. If you like mild dishes, reduce the curry powder. If you like it spicy, add more curry powder and think about adding jalapeño peppers or habanero peppers.
Making It Vegetarian
If you love the flavor of this recipe but prefer not to eat chicken, you can substitute firm tofu for the chicken. To ensure the tofu doesn't become too soggy, cut it into small pieces and bake them in a 400 F oven for about 30 minutes. Then, prepare the rest of the dish as listed above.