Tender and juicy chicken, cooked in a creamy-buttery tomato sauce, served with Saffron flavored Basmati Rice… is your mouth watering yet? That’s what’s on the menu today- Butter Chicken and Saffron Rice!
Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani(literally means ‘buttery chicken’), is an authentic Punjabi dish that was created in the 1950s, in a super popular restaurant in New Delhi called ‘Moti Mahal Delux’. The founder and chef of the restaurant decided to use left-over Tandoori Chicken (Indian-Spiced Grilled Chicken), in a rich and buttery tomato gravy. Little did he know, that he was creating one of the most popular curry dishes from the Indian subcontinent.
Traditionally, the chicken is marinated and grilled before adding to the tomato-cream sauce, but in this recipe I have skipped that step and made it a dump-and-go recipe, with the same incredible taste. The key is using a smaller and thinner cut of boneless skinless chicken, and, adding extra garam masala to compensate for the flavors lost in skipping marination. This recipe is my weeknight-friendly, super quick and easy variation that’ll leave you amazed.
Dairy-Free/Lactose-free & Gluten Free: This recipe can be easily made dairy-free by substituting the heavy cream for full-fat coconut milk. It’s as easy as that. There is no other substitution required. This recipe is Gluten-free as well.
Saffron Rice is saffron flavored Basmati rice that have been cooked to perfection, where each kernel of rice is separated and fluffy. That’s the beauty of Basmati rice.
POT-in-POT: In this recipe, I have cooked everything in one-pot, using the pot-in-pot technique in my electrical pressure cooker, Instant Pot. Watch the video above to see how easy this process is. Continue Reading…
Butter Chicken or ‘Murgh Makhani‘ (literally means Buttery Chicken), is an authentic Punjabi dish that was created in the 1950s, in a super popular restaurant in New Delhi called ‘Moti Mahal Delux’. The founder and Chef of the restaurant decided to use left-over Tandoori Chicken in a rich and buttery tomato gravy. Little did he know, that he was creating one of the most popular curry dishes from the Indian subcontinent.
It is so popular all around the world that it will be hard to find an Indian restaurant that doesn’t serve this dish. It’s funny how till date whenever I am inviting non-Indian friends over for an Indian meal, they always expect Butter Chicken or Chicken Tikka Masala to be on the menu. Talking of Chicken Tikka Masala, CTM is the British cousin of Butter Chicken. So legend goes that somewhere in England, in an Indian restaurant, a customer ordered “Chicken Tikka“- grilled chicken skewers. He sent it back to the kitchen complaining that it was too dry and needed some sauce. So, the restaurant’s Bangladeshi chef improvised and made a sauce using a can of tomato soup, Indian spices and heavy cream, dunk the pieces in and finished the sauce with some ‘butter’, and that’s how Chicken Tikka Masala was born. So, you see how both dishes have a lot in common- both include marinated and grilled chicken simmered in a rich tomato based gravy- one is more creamy (BC), the other, more spicy and tomato-ey (CTM).
I have grown up eating Butter Chicken! It happens to be my Mom’s favorite dish, and now my kids’ favorite too. Not so long ago, it used to be quite an intimidating dish to make at home since you could never get it to taste like the “restaurant”. But years of perfecting this recipe, using quality ingredients and pressure cooking techniques, I can now get that slow simmered flavor at home! So this one’s for my Mom and my kiddos- a super easy and authentic recipe for Butter Chicken. Enjoy it with Garlic Naan or simple and fragrant Cumin Basmati Rice.
Multiple uses of this recipe/sauce: This recipe is pretty versatile. You can make it vegetarian by switching the chicken with paneer. Simply marinate the paneer pieces, broil, them for 2 minutes and add them to the sauce after cooking it, in step 4 of this recipe. You can make this dish dairy-free by substituting ghee with oil and heavy cream with coconut cream or a thick coconut milk. I wouldn’t recommend using a fat-free or light version here. You need such little quantity anyway. I have used this sauce and put pre-made meatballs or veggie balls and you have Malai Koftas ready to impress!
In this recipe here, I have made Butter Chicken in my electrical pressure cooker, Instant Pot. But this recipe can be made on the stove-top too. Here’s how:
Follow steps to marinate and broil or grill the chicken.
In a dutch oven or a wide sauce pot, melt butter, add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 30 seconds on medium flame.
Add tomato puree, spices, half the cream and the grilled chicken pieces with their juices. Stir well and cook on medium flame for about 10-12 minutes, covered. Keep stirring every 2-3 minutes and if your sauce is beginning to look too thick, add 1/4 cup water so that it doesn’t burn and stick to the bottom.
Open the lid and simmer for another 5 minutes uncovered. Adjust seasoning and turn off the heat. Let is rest for 5 minutes. Add the remaining cream and garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with Garlic Naan or Cumin Basmati Rice!
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (coconut cream for a dairy free dish)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, for garnish
Marinate chicken This step is optional, but highly recommended. If you don't have the time for it, add an additional teaspoon garam masala in the sauce. Combine all ingredients listed under "Marinade". Add chicken and coat well with the marinade. Refrigerate for 30 minutes-4 hours. If you're short on time, broil it right away. Broil the chicken or grill it for 6-7 minutes. We're not cooking it through- just sealing the marinade flavors in the chicken.
Prepare sauce For the sauce, heat the Instant Pot on Saute mode. Add butter (or olive oil for a dairy free dish). Add ginger-garlic paste and sauté for 30 seconds.
Add pureed tomatoes, spices and 1/2 of the heavy cream and stir well. Add grilled chicken pieces with their juices and stir well. Close lid, set valve to Sealing and cook on Manual for 5 minutes.
Open the lid after natural release of pressure (NPR). Add the remaining heavy cream and stir well. Garnish with chopped cilantro. Serve with Naan or Cumin Basmati Rice!