Simplified Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)
I am definitely not an expert at cooking Indian food, but I definitely do like to eat it! And Chicken Makhani is one of my favorite dishes when I’m eating at an Indian restaurant.
I have been trying to come up with a recipe that comes close to the traditional Indian taste without as much effort and time as the traditional recipe…this version comes pretty close in my books.
It is a little more work than most of my recipes, but it tastes so good that it is worth it! And just think…this is the simplified version. Imagine what it takes to cook the regular version!
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Here is your shopping list for my simplified chicken Makhani recipe
- Dried Spices – Chili powder, salt, dried fenugreek leaves*, turmeric, garam masala, cayenne pepper
- Fresh Spices – garlic, ginger root
- Pastes – garlic paste, ginger paste
- Dairy – yogurt, whipping cream, half and half, butter
- Tomato paste
Utensils and Supplies
Here are the utensils and supplies you will need to make this recipe:
- 2 Mixing Bowls
- Sauce Pan
- (optional) Blender or Food Processor
How To Make Simplified Chicken Makhani
The first step to making simplified Chicken Makhani is to cut the chicken into cubes.
You’ll want them all to be about the same size. I like them to be about 1 inch squares.
Marinate The Chicken
There are actually a couple of marination steps in this recipe.
For the first round, combine the cubed chicken with the lemon juice, chili powder and salt in a bowl.
Let it sit, covered but not refrigerated, for about 20 minutes.
For the second marinade, combine yogurt, ginger paste, garlic paste, dried fenugreek leaves, turmeric and garam masala in a small bowl.
Add this mixture to the bowl with the chicken.
Cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. While you can get away with shorter marinating times (I’ve done as little as 2 hours), the longer you leave it, the more flavor the chicken will have.
Brown The Chicken
Melt butter over medium heat in a sauce pan.
Add the chicken to the sauce pan, discarding the extra marinade.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. About 5 minutes.
Remove the chicken and set aside
Make The Sauce
Melt more butter in the sauce pan.
Add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook until the onions are soft and look translucent.
Mix in the rest of the ingredients. You can add more or less cayenne pepper depending on how spicy you want your dish to be.
Let simmer for a few minutes.
Add the chicken back into the sauce.
Cook until the chicken is heated all the way through, another 5 to 10 minutes.
You can turn the temperature down and let it simmer for a while longer if you want even more flavor to soak into the chicken.
Serve with rice.
This is definitely one of those dishes that tastes even better after if has been stored over night in the refrigerator, so don’t be afraid to save some left overs!
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Simplified Chicken Makhani
- 2 lbs chicken
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup greek yogurt
- 1 Tablespoon ginger paste
- ½ Tablespoon garlic paste
- 1 teaspoon kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 4 Tablespoons butter
- 1 onion
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ¾ teaspoon grated ginger
- 1 8- ounce can tomato paste
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 cup half and half
- 1 teaspoon Garam Masala
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 1 teaspoon dried Fenugreek leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper add more if you like more heat
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- Chop the chicken into 1 inch cubes.
Chicken Marinade Step 1
- Mix the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon chili power and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl.
- Add the chicken and toss to coat.
- Cover and marinate for 20 minutes.
Chicken Marinade Step 2
- In the meantime, mix together all of the ingredients for the second marinade.
- After the 20 minutes is up, add the second marinade to the bowl with the chicken and mix well.
- Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
Brown The Chicken
- Melt 2 Tablespoons of the the butter over medium heat in the sauce pan.
- Add the chicken (without the excess marinade) to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. You can also bake or grill the chicken on skewers if you prefer that to cooking it on the stove.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Make The Sauce
- Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter in the pan.
- Add the onion, garlic and ginger.
- Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Mix in the rest of the ingredients for the sauce and let simmer for a few minutes.
- If you want a smooth, creamy consistency like you get in a restaurant, you can put the sauce in a blender or food processor at this point, and then put it back in the pot. (I don't usually bother...too much work for not much difference in the final product).
- Add the chicken back into the pot and cook until heated all the way through, another 5 - 10 minutes.
- You can reduce the heat at this point and let it simmer for a while longer (which will cause the flavors to mix better), or serve it right away if the smell is really making you hungry (it will still taste great!)
Nutrition values are estimates only, using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.
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This post was originally published on February 25, 2016 but was updated with new content on February 1, 2021.