Butter chicken or Murgh Makhani, among one of the most popular dishes around the world, is an Indian dish of chicken in a mildly spiced curry sauce. The dish has its roots in traditional Punjabi cuisine and was developed by the famous Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi, India.
This recipe is an adapted recipe from one that I frequently use when entertaining. It is both mild in it’s flavour and tempering, and the combination of raw almond paste (raw almonds soaked for about 2 hours, ground in a blender or food processor with a few tablespoons water resulting in a smooth paste), pureed tomato and coconut milk or coconut cream, brings out the flavours of the spiced chicken, to perfection!
It is not a dish I grew up on, sadly! I can only imagine that it became popular after my maternal grandfather had left India, and, my grandmother didn’t have to cook it as it wasn’t mentioned in their home [I laughed out loud ]. However, there were similar dishes that she did make with a creamy sauce, with a south Indian and north Indian flavour combination. Butter chicken however, I’m confident sharing, entered our family cooking with the 3rd generation off-spring.
I digress though, so allow me to get on with sharing this amazing dairy free, gluten free and Paleo version of a tried, tested, and, delicious version of Butter chicken. From start to finish, including the duration to cook the naan bread (I made mini naan breads from the same recipe), this meal, took me an hour to prepare. Serving 4, the ingredients may be doubled for a larger portion. It may freeze well for a ready cooked meal, however, Butter chicken is best cooked and served fresh for maximum foodie enjoyment.
FOR THE CHICKEN
500g skinless chicken, cut into pieces (I used chicken breasts)
1½ tsp freshly ground ginger (paste)
1½ tsp fennel powder
¼ tsp clove powder
saffron strands steeped in a tblsp water
1 tsp Himalayan or Sea Salt
½-1 tsp freshly milled black pepper
4 tblsp ghee or grassfed, unsalted butter + 1 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
- Rinse the chicken and drain off all the water. Place the chicken pieces in a glass bowl.
- Add in all the spices and salt and pepper, and the saffron strands. Rub the ingredients into the chicken thoroughly and set aside for about 10 minutes to allow the saffron, which enhances the hue and the flavour of the chicken, to infuse well.
- Heat the ghee (or butter) and oil in a large frying pan or flat bottomed pot.
- Once the oils are hot, fry the chicken pieces until they are cooked and lightly browned. Reserve the oil for the creamy curry sauce.
FOR THE CREAMY CURRY SAUCE
1 tblsp ghee or grassfed, unsalted butter
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 cup onion (grated and liquid squeezed out)
3 fresh red cayenne chilli’s + 3 cloves of fresh garlic, ground to a paste
¼ heaped cup almond paste (soaked raw almonds, blended with a little water to form a paste)
1 cup pureed tomato (fresh or canned, preservatives and sugar free)
1 cup coconut milk (preservatives and sugar free)
Himalayan or Sea salt to taste
¼ tsp cardamom powder
½ tsp freshly milled black pepper
Fresh coriander to garnish
- Add the butter to pan of reserved oil used for frying the chicken.
- Stir in the fennel seeds and the onions and stir fry over medium stove-top heat until the onions have softened and begin to change colour.
- Add the chilli and garlic paste and stir fry for a minute or so, to combine all the ingredients.
- Now add in the almond paste and mix well.
- Stir in the pureed tomato and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Once bubbles form, add in the cooked chicken pieces and salt to taste.
- Pour in the coconut milk and mix well.
- Sprinkle the cardamom powder and ground black pepper over the butter chicken.
- Serve immediately with naan bread – or heat well if serving later.