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
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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.
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Nut Free Butter Chicken
- 1 kilo tandoori chicken on or off the bone, cut in small pieces
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 4 pods green cardamom smashed
- 2 cloves garlic minced or grated
- a pinch ground mace
- 800 grams tinned tomatoes 28 oz
- 1 teaspoon ground cayenne powder
- 1 teaspoon salt to taste
- 1 inch ginger
- 3 green chillies
- 120 grams crème fraîche ½ cup or cream/full fat yogurt
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
- 1 tablespoon oil, 4 pods green cardamom, 2 cloves garlicAdd 1 tablespoon oil, 4 pods green cardamom and 2 cloves garlic (minced) to a medium saucepan and heat till the garlic has softened, take care not to let the garlic brown/burn.
- 1 inch ginger, 3 green chilliesAdd the chopped 1 inch ginger and 3 green chillies then sauté for 1 minute till fragrant.
- a pinch ground mace, 800 grams tinned tomatoes, 1 teaspoon ground cayenne powder, 1 teaspoon saltStir in 800 grams tinned tomatoes, a pinch ground mace, 1 teaspoon ground cayenne powder and 1 teaspoon salt, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
- 120 grams crème fraîcheBlend the tomato mixture till smooth then mix in 120 grams crème fraîche till combined.
- 1 kilo tandoori chickenAdd 1 kilo tandoori chicken mixing well till fully coated in the sauce and cook for 3 minutes.
- 1 tablespoon honey, 3 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves, 3 tablespoons butterStir in 3 tablespoons butter, 1 tablespoon honey and 3 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves then cook for a further minute. Remove from 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.
- Adding a little more or less of each spice should be fine except mace – accidentally adding too much mace 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.
Only you will see your notes and you can edit them anytime.
Nutritional information is calculated automatically and accuracy cannot be guaranteed. The information above is an estimate per serving.
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