I hate when people praise their own cooking and recipes–but I’m going to break my own rule because this butter chicken is the bomb. And if that weren’t enough, it’s super easy and you probably have all the ingredients at home already. It took me three tries. Everyone around me has had to taste all the iterations. This is the one.
I’ve seen so many recipes for butter chicken lately that have no butter, no cream but that call for cornstarch, onions (heresy, y’all, no onions in butter chicken for the love of all that’s good) and coconut milk instead of cream, so I’ve decided it’s time to fix that. If you are trying to stay away from dairy, I get it and applaud your restraint, but then this recipe won’t work for you.
I also can’t be bothered with recipes with multiple steps and marinating the chicken two different ways etc. Additionally, the thing that takes the longest in Indian cooking is making the sauce anyway. So what if there was a recipe where you cooked once, and were able to save half the sauce for later?
I didn’t start out planning this but no matter how I made it, I had lots of very tasty sauce–too much sauce. So I decided to go with it. Here’s what’s going to happen. You’ll cook the tomatoes along with spices and aromatics with the chicken on top, infusing it’s flavors into the sauce. Once it’s cooked and you’ve puréed and finished the sauce, you’ll TAKE OUT half the sauce and save it. Only then will you put the chicken back.
This means you now have lovely buttery tomato-ey sauce ready for the next time you have chicken left over. How efficient is that?
One thing I found out is that if you take that butter and cream filled sauce and pressure cook the chicken inside the sauce, the sauce gets super thin and not very makhani. So don’t do that. Cook the chicken when you first make the sauce, save half the tomato sauce frozen, and when you’re ready, add cooked chicken, or paneer, and heat it through in a skillet. Instant dinner.
Unlike other recipes, I didn’t use whole spices because I’ve learned that not everyone has whole cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and green cardamom lying around. So we’ll use garam masala instead. I didn’t even marinate and cook the chicken first, and it tasted just fine. So now we have a dump and go version of butter chicken AND sauce left over for another time.
You’ll note there’s no added water in this recipe. Between the tomatoes and the chicken, there’s more than enough to create pressure in this recipe. Any more water and it’s going to taste insipid.
Also, it’s best to let the sauce cool just a little before adding the butter and the cream. Adding it into the boiling sauce will make your sauce very thin. If that happens, just put it in the fridge for a little and let it thicken up. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
- 5-6 cloves of garlic minced
- 1-2 tsp ginger chopped
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or use breast, bone-in, or whatever works for you. If frozen, add 1-2 minutes to total time)
- To finish
- 4 oz butter cut into cubes (use coconut oil if dairy free)
- 4 oz heavy cream (use full-fat coconut milk if dairy free)
- 1 tsp garam masala
- ¼-1/2 c chopped cilantro
- Place all ingredients into a pressure cooker in the order listed, EXCEPT for the butter, cream and 1 tsp of the garam masala, mixing the sauce well before you place the chicken on top of the sauce. If it's frozen, push it into the sauce a bit so it defrosts better
- Close the cooker and set for 10 mins on high, and let it release pressure naturally
- Open up the pot and remove the chicken carefully and set aside
- Blend together all the ingredients, preferably using an immersion blender
- Add the cut up butter, cream, cilantro, and garam masala and stir until well incorporated.
- It's best to let the sauce cool just a little before adding the butter and the cream. Adding it into the boiling sauce will make your sauce very thin. If that happens, just put it in the fridge for a little and let it thicken up. It should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Take out half the sauce and freeze for later or store in the fridge for 2-3 days
- Add the chicken back in and heat through. Break it up into smaller pieces if you need but don't shred it.
- Serve over rice, or zucchini noodles
- Use leftover cooked chicken and mix in with the gently heated sauce, let it simmer for a few for the flavors to meld together and there you go. Add some fresh cilantro on top.
- You could also use this for Paneer Makhani. Defrost a cup of peas and 1 cup of paneer and mix gently into the heated sauce and let it simmer for a few for the flavors to meld together and there you go.