For Tandoori Chicken
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons half and half
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
For Butter Cream Sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1-inch stick cinnamon
2 bay leaves
2 black cardamom pods, crushed lightly to break the pod (If not available, use extra green cardamom pods)
5 to 7 green cardamom pods, crushed lightly to break the pod
10 whole cloves
3-4 cloves fresh garlic, coarsely chopped
6-8 quarter-size slices peeled fresh ginger
1-3 fresh green chili peppers, such as Serrano or jalapeño, coarsely chopped
5 large tomatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds), coarsely chopped OR 2 15-ounce cans of tomato sauce
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 1/2-3 cups water
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 cup half and half
1 1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, cut into thin matchsticks
2-4 fresh green chili peppers, such as Serrano or jalapeño, split into eights
1 tablespoon olive oil
Note: This recipe requires 10-26 hours for chicken marination and another hour and a half or so for cooking and recipe assembly. Plan accordingly or switch to Quick(er) Butter Chicken Curry.
To cook chicken:
1. Cut chicken into cubes and place in an oven safe container.
2. In a small bowl, mix together the lemon juice and salt and pour it over the chicken, stirring well. Cover with plastic wrap or lid and marinate in the refrigerator about 2 hours.
3. After the chicken has marinated, in another small bowl, mix together the yogurt, half-and-half, ginger, garlic, garam masala, and cumin. I use the Braun spice grinder for this because I use whole cumin and it makes everything easier.
4. Heat the oil in a small nonstick saucepan over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Remove from the heat and add the paprika, cayenne pepper, and turmeric. Mix the spiced oil into the yogurt mixture. Add the yogurt to the container with the chicken and stir well. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and marinate in the refrigerator, at least 8 and up to 24 hours.
5. Preheat oven to 375*F. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and cook, covered, for about an hour. Stir the chicken every 20 minutes for even cooking. When chicken is fully cooked, drain in a sieve and set aside.
Note: You could leave the chicken breasts whole and grill them, or tandoor them, or even use a whole chicken and cook it as you desire. This is my preferred method.
To cook cream sauce:
1. Heat the butter in a large nonstick wok, skillet or saucepan over medium heat and cook the cinnamon, bay leaves, black and green cardamom pods, cloves, garlic, ginger, and green chili peppers, stirring, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
2. Add the tomatoes (or tomato sauce), paprika, nutmeg, and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pan, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are very soft and the volume reduces by about half, 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Let cool and pass through a food mill or fine-mesh strainer and discard the fibers. (Add an additional 1/2 cup water to extract maximum pulp.) Return to the pan, add the salt, and cook, stirring as needed, over medium-high heat about 10 minutes. If there is too much spluttering, cover the pan, reduce the heat, and cook an extra 5 to 7 minutes.
4. Add the half-and-half and simmer over low heat another 5 minutes to blend the flavors.
To assemble Butter Chicken Curry:
1. If chicken is not already in small pieces, cut or shred it into bite size pieces.
2. Add chicken to the butter cream sauce and stir to coat. Cover the pan and simmer about 10 minutes to blend the flavors. Transfer to a serving dish.
3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook the ginger and green chili peppers, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the chicken and swirl lightly to mix. Serve hot.
This recipe looks overwhelming. It all boils down to this: Marinate chicken overnight, cook chicken, make sauce, and combine everything. On the day you prepare it you’ll need about 2 hours but that time is largely unattended. I cannot stress enough how worth the time this recipe is. I love Butter Chicken in Indian restaurants and I prefer this hands down. I would make this once a week and my family would cheer if I only didn’t have so many other recipes that I love and want to prepare!
This recipe makes enough to serve 6 people, which means that we all get a nice leftover serving later on in the week. All of the spices except for the black cardamom I can find at my local grocery store. I can find black cardamom at the specialty Indian store in town, but I omitted it the first many times I made this dish because I didn’t have access to it. I don’t notice much of a flavor change with the addition of the black ones, so you’re good to go without them if you can’t get them.
The original recipe this is based on is in 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra. If you love Indian food, and Butter Chicken especially, please give this a try. You won’t be disappointed!
Shown here with Chana Pulao.