Monday, 23 July 2012

Butter Chicken

When I visited India, we had one particularly amazing meal out at a rather fancy restaurant, where the meals cost a whole $10! A friend of mine ordered this and I remembered that it's often cited as the measure of an Indian restaurant; if the butter chicken is good, then everything else is probably good too. His was excellent. We've had a couple of chicken breasts in the freezer for a while and I've been intending to do 'something Indian' to them. Then at the Good Food and Wine show I picked up a really nice 'butter chicken' spice mix and all the pieces fell into place. I don't normally use spice mixes but I tried a bit with some bread and olive oil and it tasted so much like the real thing from India that I couldn't resist :)

I used this recipe for a starting point, although we dropped the amount of yoghurt since I was worried cooking it would make it separate, and we found the overall result bit too tomatoey, so this recipe has a reduced amount of puree. We couldn't bring ourselves to pour in the amount of cream they said to use, but feel free if you weren't using those arteries anyway! We served it with some plain rice and spicy & sour green beans: perfect counterpoint.


  • two large chicken breasts
  • 2 tsbp yoghurt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp turmeric, 2 tsp garam masala, 1/2 tsp chilli flakes, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground cardamom, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 2 tsp of paprika (or 4 tbsp of butter chicken spice mix!)
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 125g cashews, roasted
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Indian bay leaf or normal bay leaf
  • 200g can tomato puree
  • 150ml chicken stock
  • 125ml double cream (double the quantity for extra richness)
  • fresh coriander, to garnish

Slice the chicken breasts into bite-size pieces. Put in a bowl and toss with the yoghurt, lemon juice, spices, ginger and garlic; marinade overnight, or for a couple of hours if possible.

Blitz half of the cashews in a blender until well-ground. Gently fry the onion in a little oil, then add the chicken and toss about until the spices are fragrant. Tip in the ground cashews, tomato puree, bay leaf and stock, and simmer for fifteen minutes, until the chicken is cooked. Stir in the cream and warm through; serve over rice, topped with a handful of coriander leaves and the remaining toasted cashews.

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