Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)

This is a favourite in India and nothing like the Butter Chicken you get in Australia or New Zealand.  It is a rich and flavoursome dish with very little butter. It’s made up of two parts – first, the marinading and cooking of the chicken; secondly, the preparation of the sauce.



4 Chicken thighs, boned (I prefer the texture of thighs to breast – holds the flavour and texture better in a curry)
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 dried chilli
1 cm knob of ginger
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
Pinch of rock salt
2 tbls unsweetened yoghurt – greek is the best, as it’s much firmer than the stuff I used
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
Juice from half a lemon


Grind up some ginger, garlic, rock salt & chilli.


Roast some cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan until they smoke – this will give the spices a far richer flavour


Grind the whole lot together into a paste


Some people like to slash their chicken, but I prefer to prick it all over with a fork – this helps the marinade to really get deep inside the chicken


Squeeze some lemon juice to start the marinading process – this tenderises the chicken and makes it much easier for the marinade to permeate the meat


Add in the paste made earlier and some coriander powder and paprika


Add in a couple of tablespoons of fresh yoghurt and mix the whole lot together. Leave to marinade for at least 6 hours (I made this batch before going to work – means it’s ready for dinner)


Some recipes call for the marinade to have some red food colouring. DON’T! Chuck it away!


Time to cook our chicken. If, like me, you don’t have a tandoor oven, then BBQ is your next best option.


While chicken is cooking, drink beer. Some people feel this is optional, it is not.


Mmmmm, Chicken! If you stopped here, you’ve got a great starter dish – really tender and full of flavour.  But, to make Murgh Makhani, you need to make a sauce to put the chicken in.


For the sauce:


One small onion
4 tbls butter
6 green cardamom pods, shells discarded (important to discard the shells as they don’t whizz too well when you blend)
2 Large tomatoes (or 4 medium ones)
2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp chilli powder (or sweet paprika if you want a milder flavour)
1 tsp crushed garlic
A little cream – the more you put in, the milder the flavour – I tend to put in about 1/4 cup because the cardamom flavour is quite strong. You can also put in a drizzle of honey to balance the whole dish out.
Spring onions to taste – two decent ones is good enough
1 bottle (or more) or beer.
Handful of cashews or almond slivers to garnish

Fry onions, garlic, cardamon, garam masala; chilli powder in the butter


Add in the tomatoes and a little water


Reduce the mixture down and leave to cool a little.


Pour the mixture into a blender and blend to a smooth paste.  You can sieve the mixture, if you wish, but I prefer the thickness of the mix.


Pour back in to the pan on a medium heat and add in the cream


Add the chicken and warm through.  Top with some garnish like coriander leaves or spring onions.

Murgh Makhani

Serve and enjoy!


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