I never use to love butter chicken, it was my least favourite out of all South Asian foods. But my opinion completely changed as soon as I tried a homemade version.
Butter chicken is sooooo much better when you make it at home. Well I guess you could say everything is better when you make it at home, but I don’t always agree with this statement, I think some foods are better to buy.
Not butter chicken though, if you are ever feeling like it, the extra effort or making it is so worth it. So let’s make some butter chicken and garlic naan!
How is butter chicken made?
Butter chicken is actually very easy to make. There are quite a few ingredients needed to make it, but this is just because of the amount of seasonings. But the actual method is pretty easy.
Essentially, there are 3 parts to it. Here’s what those parts are:
- Marinate the chicken – you want to marinate the chicken in some plain yoghurt, lemon juice and then some seasonings. Leave this to marinate in the fridge for at least an hour or overnight.
- Cook the chicken – once marinated, add some butter into a pan and cook the chicken in this. Then leave this aside.
- Make the sauce – once the chicken has cooked, you want to make the sauce.
- Mix the chicken and the sauce to together
Hearing the name ‘butter chicken’, you would assume that the main ingredient in it is butter.
But it actually doesn’t have a crazy amount of butter in it. It definitely still has butter, but you don’t need as much as you might think.
Most of the flavour and creaminess is actually coming from the cream, cashews and then seasonings.
The butter is just a nice extra touch.
So out of all the South Asian dishes, I would say that butter chicken is one of the least spiciest.
Because of the cream, tomatoes and butter, most butter chicken typically has a sweeter flavour.
This is one of the reasons why it was never my favourite, I always wanted it to be spicier, so that’s what I did with this.
So I am not saying this is the most traditional butter chicken recipe…it’s not. It’s just my take on it.
It’s a spicy version of butter chicken.
To make it spicier, I went a little heavier with the seasonings, and I also added bird eye chillies.
However, you don’t need to use the same amount of seasonings as I used, if you prefer butter chicken to be sweeter, use less seasonings than I did.
Here are the seasonings I used:
- Garlic and ginger (I don’t know if this is considered a seasoning, but I’m including it).
- Chilli powder
- Curry spice (also known as basaar)
- Chilli flakes
- Green bird eye chillies
Again, you can adjust these. Make your butter chicken to your taste.
The most important part of butter chicken is the sauce of course.
Here are the ingredients I used to make this:
- Tomatoes – some people use canned tomatoes, some use fresh. I personally think it is better with fresh tomatoes so I recommend using fresh ones too.
- Minced garlic and ginger
- Green chillies – these are optional, again I was going for a spicy butter chicken. You can leave these out if you want.
- Some seasonings
- Double cream – also known as heavy cream. This is what is going to give the sauce it’s creaminess.
- Cashews – these are going to add extra creaminess so make sure to add them. Unless you are allergic to nuts, then you should probably leave them out.
- Coriander – to sprinkle on top.
Making the sauce
To make it, all you do is cook the onions in some butter until they are brown. Then you add the rest of the ingredients, cook this for a few minutes, then blend everything.
Butter chicken is known for its smoothness and creaminess. So blending the sauce is going to give you this smooth creaminess.
You can either use a stick blender or a regular blender for this. Or you could also just use a food processor, this is what I did.
After this, I also sieved the sauce to make it extra smooth.
Now just add the cooked chicken into this, cook it for a few minutes and then the butter chicken is done.
To finish it off, I mixed some garam masala into it, as well as some coriander.
Then when serving it, I swirled some double cream over it. This does absolutely nothing, it was just for aesthetic purposes.
The garlic naan
Butter chicken is either served with rice or naan.
I will always choose naan over rice, so I ate mine with some garlic naan.
I decided to make the naan, just for fun and games I guess. You absolutely don’t need to go through the effort of making it, you could just buy it.
Side note, if you are making it, you will want to do it whiles you are making the chicken. I know reading this blog post it seems like I made the chicken, then moved onto making the naan.
But you do want to make them together, so that they are pretty much ready at the same time.
In the actual recipe card below, I’ve shown when it is best to start making the naan.
Anyway here are the ingredients you will need for the dough:
- Bread flour – plain/all purpose flour does also work. I’ve made it with plain flour quite a few times and it works. Bread flour does give you slightly softer naan though, so I prefer using this. But use whatever is easiest for you.
- Granulated sugar – this doesn’t make the naan sweet, the yeast just needs something to eat.
- Instant yeast – I like to use instant yeast because I find it easier, I can add it straight into the bowl. But if you are using active yeast, you will need to activate it. So to do this, mix the active yeast with the warm water, along with a tablespoon of the sugar. Leave this aside for 10 minutes, or until it becomes foamy. Now it is ready to use.
- Plain yoghurt
- Warm water – NOT HOT, just warm.
- Unsalted butter – just for extra flavour.
You just mix all these until a dough forms, then knead this for about 8 minutes.
Now leave this to rise for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
A few tips when making the naan
Once the dough had risen, I divided it into 4 pieces, then rolled these out and cooked them.
After they were cooked, I brushed them with some garlic butter.
Here are a few tips:
Roll the naan out thinly
You don’t want your naan to be too thick, otherwise it just doesn’t cook. You will end up with naan that has a very doughy centre.
So roll it out thinly.
Make sure the pan is hot
To get the best results, you want your pan to be hot when you add the naan to it.
Once you add the naan, you will notice that bubbles will start to form. If there are no bubbles, your pan is not hot enough.
Add the garlic butter whiles the naan is hot
To make the garlic butter, I just melted some butter and then mixed some minced garlic and coriander into it.
You want to brush this onto the naan whiles they’re hot. Just brush it on as soon as you take them off the pan.
This way the butter will soak into the naan, which will make it nice and soft.
How to store the butter chicken
In case you have any leftover butter chicken, to store it all you need to do is add it into an airtight container, then place this into your fridge.
It will last in there for 3-4 days.
To re-heat it, you can either do this in the microwave or in a pan!
Here are some other recipes that I think you should also try:
with Garlic Naan
800g boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
- For the marinade:
1/2 cup plain yoghurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 tablespoon minced ginger
2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons chilli powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons curry spice (basaar)
2 teaspoons chilli flakes
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
- For the naan dough:
450g bread flour (plain flour works too but bread flour is better)
1 teaspoon salt
20g granulated sugar
10g instant yeast
150g plain yoghurt
150ml warm water
50g melted unsalted butter
- For the garlic butter:
120g unsalted butter
5 cloves garlic, minced (use as much or as little garlic as you want)
1/2 tablespoon coriander, chopped (also use as much or as little as you want)
- For the butter chicken sauce:
2 medium onions, chopped
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
6 green bird eye chillies, chopped (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons chilli powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoons curry spice
1 teaspoons chilli flakes
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup double cream
1 teaspoon garam masala
Some unsalted butter to cook the chicken and the sauce in
Plus some extra cream and coriander to garnish
- Marinating the chicken:
- In a large bowl, add the chicken, yoghurt, lemon juice, garlic, ginger and all the seasonings. Mix all this together.
- Cover and leave to marinate for at least an hour, or overnight.
- Making the naan dough:
- Just before you are about to cook the marinated chicken I recommend making the naan dough and the garlic butter.
- So in a large bowl, add all the ingredients for the dough, mix this together, then knead for about 8 minutes. Or until you get a smooth dough.
- Place this into a lightly greased bowl, cover and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours, or until doubled in size.
- Making the garlic butter:
- In a pot, add the butter. Heat this on medium heat until all the butter has melted.
- Add the minced garlic into this, as well as the coriander. Give this a mix, then take it off the heat and leave aside until you're ready to use it.
- Cooking the chicken:
- Place a large pan on medium heat, add some butter into this and let this melt.
- Once melted, add your marinated chicken and cook this.
- Once cooked, take the chicken out of the pan and leave this aside.
- Making the sauce:
- In the same pan you cooked the chicken in, add some more butter and let this melt.
- Add your chopped onions into this and cook until they have turned brown.
- Once brown, add the tomatoes, garlic, ginger, chillies and the seasonings. Give this a mix and cook for about a minute.
- Now add the cashews and cream. Cook all this for a few minutes, just so that the cashews can soften a little.
- Pour all this into a blender, or a food processor, and blend until smooth. Then sieve it and add it back into your pan.
- Mix your cooked chicken into this, then let this simmer on medium heat for about 5 minutes, just so that the sauce can thicken up slightly.
- If at any point you notice that the butter is seperating from the sauce, this means that you have cooked it for too long. This is ok though don't worry, just pour in some more cream and give it a mix, this will fix it.
- Now mix in the garam masala and coriander, then take it off the heat, cover and leave aside.
- Cooking the naan:
- At this point your dough should have risen.
- Cut this dough into pieces. I cut mine into 4, to get 4 naans. But if you want more you can cut more pieces, the naan will just be smaller.
- Roll the pieces into balls, then cover and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, get one of the dough balls and roll it out thinly. You don't want it to be too thick, otherwise it won't cook as well.
- Place this onto a hot pan. A tava or a cast iron skillet works best, but any pan does work.
- You will notice that bubbles will start forming, if they are not, your pan is not hot enough.
- Cook the naan for about 1-2 minutes on each side. Once cooked, brush the garlic butter onto it.
- Repeat this until you have cooked all you naans and brushed them all with the garlic butter.
- Now you are done, enjoy!