Butter Chicken

Butter chicken

Butter Chicken -overhead view

The origins of Butter Chicken lie in 1950s New Delhi. It is not an ancient Indian recipe. Noorbanu learned to make it when she came to Canada. And, since everyone loved her version so much it had to be in A Spicy Touch – Family Favourites from Noorbanu Nimji’s Kitchen.

As the story goes, the owner of the Moti Mahal in New Delhi complained there was always leftover tandoori chicken at the end of each day. To please his boss (and to not lose his job) the very practical chef took those char-flavoured bits of chicken and served them up in a butter and cream tomato sauce the next day. It was an immediate hit that has spread the world over.

Noorbanu’s version is accented with the flavour of Kasoori Methi – dried fenugreek leaves. I feel it is the best recipe for Butter Chicken I’ve ever tasted. I hope you agree.


Butter chicken

Butter Chicken -overhead view

This is one of Noorbanu’s most succulent recipes. The fenugreek leaves or Kasoori Methi add a sweet taste that sets it apart. Well, that and all the butter and cream. One tip I can share is that if you get the meat into the marinade, it freezes really well at that point. I will do some up ahead, thaw it as I need to and the last bit of the recipe comes together quickly to make a great “pay it forward” meal. Another tip – double or triple the recipe. The leftovers are incredible!

  • Author: Karen Anderson
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes plus marination time
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 51 minute
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: marination and saute
  • Cuisine: Indian



lbs chicken breast, boneless and skinless

For the Marinade

3 Tablespoons yogurt

1½ teaspoons Garlic Paste 

1½ teaspoons Ginger Paste 

2 teaspoons tomato paste

½ teaspoon Green Chilli Paste 

½ teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground chilli

¼ teaspoon Garam Masala 

Pinch saffron

¾ teaspoon salt

For the Sauce:

¼ cup roughly chopped onion

2 2-inch pieces red bell pepper

2 2-inch pieces green bell pepper

¾ cup water – divided ¼ cup then remainder as needed

¼ cup butter

1 cup tomato sauce

2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves (Kasoori Methi)

1¼ cups whipping cream (Substitute ½ cup half and half cream to reduce fat)


1.    Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces.

2.    Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large glass bowl and stir in the chicken pieces. Cover and marinate 3 to 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

3.    Place the onion, red and green bell peppers and  ¼ cup of water in a blender and process till smooth. Set aside.

4.    Melt the butter in a large saucepan on medium heat.

5.    Stir in the puréed onion/pepper mixture and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

6.    Stir in the marinated chicken and any remaining marinade, and cook for 5 minutes.

7.    Stir in the tomato sauce and continue cooking until the chicken is tender about 10 minutes.

8.    Stir in the fenugreek leaves and more water as required and cook until they are soft – about 5 minutes.

9.    Stir in the whipping cream (or half and half cream substitute) slowly. There should be enough gravy to just cover the chicken. Add more water or cream as required.

10. Simmer until heated through. Avoid letting it come to a boil as that might cause the cream to separate.

11. Enjoy with Saffron Rice and Naan.

Keywords: Butter Chicken

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