Mamta's Kitchen

Butter Chicken Curry 1

Murga Makhani 1

Mamta Gupta

This dish has chicken in a thick, creamy sauce, hence the name. It is not very highly spiced and has delicious, gentle flavour. Makhani means 'buttery' or 'creamy'. Serves 4

Edited April 2010


  • 700 gm. to 1 kg. chicken pieces of your choice, skin removed

  • 2 tbsp. (30 gm.) butter

  • 2 tbsp. oil

  • 1 tsp. black cumin seeds/Shahi jeera

  • 2-3 bay leaves

  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick

  • 3-4 brown cardamoms

  • 4-5 green cardamoms

  • 1 level tbsp. ginger, finely grated*

  • 1 level tbsp. garlic, finely grated *

  • 1 medium or 150 gm. onion, peeled and grated or ground to a paste*

  • 1 tsp. sugar

  • 500 gm. tomatoes, pureed in a blender (can use 350 gm. tinned, but taste is better with fresh)

  • 1 tbsp. dry fenugreek/methi leaves (optional)

  • 1 tsp. chilli powder, adjust to taste

  • 2 tsp. paprika powder for colour

  • 1 1/2 tsp. Tandoori Masala or Chaat Masala, adjust to taste.

  • Salt to taste

  • 2-3 tbsp. cashew nuts, soaked for 1 hour and ground to a paste or use ready-ground almonds/cashews

  • 1 cup or 250 ml. full cream milk

  • 1/2 cup or 125 ml. water (less if frozen chicken is used, because that releases more water)

  • 3 tbsp./ 60 ml. double cream. Sour cream can be used

  • 1 tsp. Garam Masala

  • A handful of coriander leaves, chopped

  • *Ginger, garlic and onions can all be ground together to a paste in a blender.


  1. Heat butter and oil together in a heavy bottomed pan or karahi.

  2. Add black cumin seeds, bay leaves, cinnamon, black and green cardamoms, ginger-garlic-onion paste and fry.

  3. When it is beginning to look transparent, add sugar. Sugar helps to caramelise the onions. Cook until it turns brownish and all the water is gone.

  4. Add pureed tomato, chilli powder, salt, tandoori and/or chaat masala. If using fenugreek leaves add them here. Stir-fry until water is evaporated and oil separates at the edges of the mass.

  5. Add chicken pieces, stir fry until well coated.

  6. Add cashew paste and fry for a further 10-15 seconds.

  7. Add milk and water and bring to boil, cook covered, stirring frequently. Or transfer to a slow cooker and cook according to it's instructions.

  8. The gravy should be of custard consistency. It is better to add less water to start with and adjust later if the dish is looking too dry.

  9. Cook until chicken is tender. When the dish is ready, the chicken meat begins to come off the bones, the gravy turns to a brighter colour and the fat separates. Chicken must always be fully cooked, eating undercooked chicken can be dangerous.

  10. Turn the heat to minimum, add 2/3rd of the cream, 1/2 the garam masala and 1/2 the coriander leaves. Stir well.

  11. Adjust salt/chillies/tandoori masala to taste and turn the heat off.

  12. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and remaining cream.

  13. Serve with hot Naans or Chapatties. Remove any large whole spices that are easily seen;bay leaves, cardamoms etc.


  • You can cook this dish in an oven:

  • Prepare gravy as above. Place chicken pieces in an oven-proof dish and pour over the gravy. Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180 C or 350 F or Gas mark 4, for approximately 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Oven temperatures and times vary. Add cream and garam masala and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add and mix cream, garnish with coriander leaves.

  • A reader from Australia suggests substituting sugar with 2 table spoons of honey; "it is incredible"! Adjust amount of honey to taste.

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