Jazz up leftover chicken by recreating a nut free version of this popular restaurant-style butter chicken in under 30 minutes.
Butter chicken is a great way to use leftover chicken to make another very quick and tasty dish.
This is a popular family friendly dish made with chicken in a sweet and creamy sauce and it’s always a hit with kids.
The sauce for butter chicken is typically made using a nut paste made from cashew nuts or almonds. This version is just as rich and tasty but avoids nuts so it is suitable for anyone with nut allergies
What is butter chicken?
This restaurant favourite had very practical beginnings. It dates back to the 1950’s, when three Punjabi cooks from the popular Moti Mahal restaurant in old Delhi, came up with a way of making their tandoori chicken last longer.
The restaurant was already famous for their tandoori chicken which was marinated in a spicy masala paste and cooked quickly at a high temperature in a tandoor. However, when a surplus was made, the leftover chicken became a little dry a day or two later.
To counter this the three cooks developed a way to re-use the chicken, cutting it up into small bite sized pieces and adding it to a rich and flavoursome gravy.
So leftover chicken reheated in this tasty sauce is how the famous butter chicken came about.
Butter Chicken is typically made by adding tandoori chicken which has been cooked on the bone then cut into small pieces, to a slightly sweet and spiced creamy tomato sauce.
Don’t have tandoori chicken?
Tandoori chicken and chicken tikka are not entirely essential for this dish.
It can also be made with leftover pieces of chicken tikka or even a simple rotisserie chicken.
This sauce adds a good deal of flavour, so any mildly flavoured cooked chicken, on or off the bone, would work.
Whatever chicken you are using, make sure it is not strongly flavoured with any possible conflicting flavours.
Warmed over flavour
If you are worried the reheated chicken may have a warmed over flavour, don’t!
As long as the leftover chicken has been stored correctly, this curry sauce being richly spiced and absolutely full of flavour, will make your leftover chicken delicious!
Notes on ingredients
The essential ingredients to make this sauce are mace, tomatoes, butter, crème fraîche and dried fenugreek leaves.
- Use ground mace sparingly, as too much will ruin the dish.
- Use good quality canned tomatoes which are not too acidic and have a good rich flavour. I always use Cirio tomatoes as they have a wonderful flavour even straight out of the can.
- Salted or unsalted butter is fine.
- If you have run out of crème fraîche, cream or full fat yogurt will also work.
- Dried fenugreek leaves or Kasuri methi are an extremely pungent herb with a bitter citrus flavour. Used sparingly, it adds a whole new layer of flavour, however, too much will overwhelm and ruin the dish.
Kasuri methi is available from local Asian grocery shops.
Butter Chicken has a good amount of sauce, so serve it warm with a fragrant basmati rice, or fresh rotis.
Butter Chicken will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Freeze it in zip-loc bags for up to a month. Then allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight and reheat in a saucepan over a low-medium heat.
⭐️ Are you making this recipe for Nut Free Butter Chicken? Do let me know how it turned out in the comments! And if you like it, please give it a 5 star rating below!
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Nut Free Butter Chicken
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 4 whole pods green cardamom smashed
- 2 cloves garlic minced or grated
- a pinch ground mace
- 800 g tinned tomatoes 28 oz
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne powder
- salt to taste
- 1 inch ginger
- 3 green chillies
- 1 kg cooked chicken on or off the bone and cut into small pieces
- 120 g crème fraîche ½ cup or cream/full fat yogurt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- a pinch dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
- 1 tablespoon oil, 4 whole pods green cardamom, 2 cloves garlicHeat oil, cardamom and garlic in a medium saucepan, till the garlic has softened but not browned.
- 1 inch ginger, 3 green chilliesAdd the chopped ginger and green chillies and sauté for 1 minute till fragrant.
- a pinch ground mace, 800 g tinned tomatoes, 1 teaspoon ground cayenne powder, saltMix in tomatoes, mace, cayenne powder and salt, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
- 120 g crème fraîcheBlend the tomato mixture till smooth then stir in the crème fraîche.
- 1 kg cooked chickenAdd the pieces of chicken, mixing well till fully coated, and cook for 3 minutes.
- 1 tablespoon honey, a pinch dried fenugreek leaves , 3 tablespoons butterStir in the butter, honey and fenugreek leaves, then cook for a further minute. Turn off the heat and serve with warm basmati rice.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge half an hour before using so it is not cold when adding to the curry.
- Smash the green cardamom to open the pods and expose the seeds.
- Use the mace and Kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves) sparingly as too much could overwhelm and spoil the dish.
- Serve warm with basmati rice.
- Store in an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to a month. Defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat in a saucepan on low-medium heat.