Simplified Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

Simplified Chicken Makhani
Simplified Chicken Makhani

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 recipes, but it tastes so good that it is worth it!

You can adjust the spiciness of the recipe by increasing or decreasing the amount of cayenne pepper and chili powder…when in doubt, start with less and add more (there’s no going back once you’ve made it spicier than you want it).

Simplified Chicken Makhani
Simplified Chicken Makhani

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Marinating Time:  30 minutes – 24 hours

Cooking Time:  30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes – 25 hours

What You Need


2 lbs chicken

Initial Marinade:
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Second marinade:
1/2 cup greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon ginger paste
1/2 Tablespoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon kasuri methi/dried fenugreek leaves
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garam masala

The Sauce:
4 Tablespoons butter
1 onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 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
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more if you like more heat)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder

Pots and Utensils

2 Mixing Bowls
Sauce Pan
(optional) Blender or Food Processor

How To Put It Together

1. Chop the chicken into 1″ cubes.

Chicken Marinade Step 1
Chicken Marinade Step 1

2. Mix the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon chili power and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a mixing bowl.

3. Add the chicken and toss to coat.

4. Cover and marinate for 20 minutes.

Chicken Marinade Step 2
Chicken Marinade Step 2

5. In the meantime, mix together all of the ingredients for the second marinade.

6. After the 20 minutes is up, add the second marinade to the bowl with the chicken and mix well.

7. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

8. Melt 2 Tablespoons of the the butter over medium heat in the sauce pan.

9. 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.

10. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

11. Melt the remaining 2 Tablespoons of butter in the pan.

12. Add the onion, garlic and ginger.

13. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

14. Mix in the rest of the ingredients for the sauce and let simmer for a few minutes.

15. 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).

16. Add the chicken back into the pot and cook until heated all the way through, another 5 – 10 minutes.

17. 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!)

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!

Simplified Chicken Makhani
Simplified Chicken Makhani

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