Jazz up leftover chicken by recreating the popular restaurant-style Butter Chicken in your home, in under 30 minutes.
This dish 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.
Chicken marinated in a spicy masala paste, cooked quickly at a high temperature in a tandoor, tends to dry out a day or two later. They developed a way to stretch the chicken, by cutting it up and adding it to a flavoursome sauce, and that is how the famous Butter Chicken came about.
What is butter chicken?
Butter Chicken is typically made by adding tandoori chicken, cooked on the bone and cut into small pieces, to a slightly sweet and spiced creamy tomato sauce.
It can also be made with leftover pieces of Chicken Tikka.
Don’t have tandoori chicken?
Tandoori chicken and chicken tikka are not entirely essential for this dish.
This sauce adds a good deal of flavour, so any mildly spiced pre-cooked chicken (using Indian spices), on or off the bone, would also work.
Whatever chicken you are using, make sure it is not strongly flavoured with any possible conflicting flavours such as rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram, etc.
The essential ingredients
The essential ingredients to make this sauce are mace, tomatoes, butter, cream and Kasuri methi. If any of these are missing, the dish will fail.
- Use powdered 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 are great straight our of the can.
- Salted or unsalted butter is fine.
- If you have run out of cream, full fat yogurt will also work.
- Dried Kasuri methi leaves 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 Amazon (see affiliate link below) or from local Asian grocery shops.
Butter Chicken has a good amount of sauce, so serve 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 in zip-loc bags for up to a month. Defrost in the fridge overnight and reheat in a saucepan over low-medium heat.
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- 1 tablespoon oil
- 4 green cardamom smashed
- 2 cloves garlic minced or grated
- a pinch ground mace
- 800 g tinned tomatoes 28 oz
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- salt to taste
- 1 inch ginger
- 3 green chillies
- 1 kg chicken pre-cooked, and cut into pieces
- ½ cup cream
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- a pinch kasuri methi dried
- Heat oil, cardamom and garlic in a medium saucepan, till the garlic has softened but not browned.
- Add the chopped ginger and green chillies and sauté for 1 minute till fragrant.
- Mix in tomatoes, mace, cayenne powder and salt, then simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add butter and stir till melted, then remove from heat and blend the tomato mixture till smooth.
- Return the mixture to a medium heat and add cream.
- Add the pieces of chicken, mixing well till fully coated, and cook for 3 minutes.
- Stir in the honey and a pinch of Kasuri methi, then cook for a further minute. Turn off the heat and serve with warm basmati rice.