“There are a lot of things I miss about home; a ‘katta’ evening at University Circle; driving triple seat and getting chased by mamas in the middle of the night and mangoes! While living considerably closer to the Arctic Circle makes me thank God for global warming, Desi Central, NJ, with the highest density of Indians/sq mile in the continental US, makes up by having a ton of Indian restaurants. But unfortunately, after sampling at so many, I still have a singular want: Butter Chicken.

After searching in vain for a joint that serves Butter Chicken the way God intended it to be,  I decided I have to cook it, if I want to eat it. Given that there was a time when I thought cooking meant boiling eggs to varying stages of fluidity and tossing omelets with onions and chilies, I never thought I would see this day. But, as with all great inventions, from the wheel to the modern toilet, necessity is the mother of invention, (I wonder how they did it before the toilet … oops, sorry this is a food blog .. moving right along) And so, after several fire alarms, burnt vessels and avian genocide, I present to you a recipe that is as close as any man has ever come to replicating this elusive dish in the New World.

Now, to commemorate Father’s Day, my wife has given me the singular honor of jay-walking on her blog. And so to make the most of it, I wish to web log my first lesson in the long journey to educate my first born in the cultural traditions of my country. It is said that the Butter Chicken was first created as an offering (Abhishek) to the Gods by Aryans living underwater in a lake (Sarovar) amidst the majestic Himalayas and this recipe has been passed down by word of mouth through the ages with exacting accuracy.

Ok, I can’t back that up … but it tastes really good!”

Butter ChickenServes 2

1 lb (about 4) boneless, skinless chicken thighs

The Marinade

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder


1/2 lemon, juice squeezed

1/2 cup yogurt

1/2 tsp minced ginger or readymade ginger paste

1/2 tsp minced garlic or readymade garlic paste

1 tsp garam masala or Chicken Masala

The Gravy

2 medium red onions, finely chopped

2 tbsp canola oil

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp minced ginger or readymade ginger paste

1/2 tsp minced garlic or readymade garlic paste


1-2 tbsp Tandoori Chicken Masala (Recomended brand: Shan or Everest) (If you can’t find it, use garam masala and red/orange cooking color)

1/4 cup tomato sauce or puree

1 tsp of kasuri methi

Clean and wash chicken and remove as much fat as possible. Tenderize the chicken midly using a metal/wooden tenderizer. Chop meat into 1 inch long thin slices.

Mix in the ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl and add the chicken pieces to it, making sure each piece is well coated. Seal the bowl with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours, or upto 8 hours.

Heat oil over medium high heat in a deep saute pan and add onions, ginger and garlic paste and season with a little bit of salt. Fry the mixture till onion is translucent and light brown in color, for 10-15 mins. The onion will lose its original shape and will start turing into a paste-like consistency.

Add the Tandoori chicken masala and continue to fry for a couple more mins. Add a little oil (about a tbsp) if it gets too dry.

Add the tomato sauce and mix well. Continue frying. Once the mixture is close being dry from reduction, add the chicken in 2 or 3 batches along with marinade, stirring continuously to make sure it mixes well with the onion-tomato mixture.

Do not add water at any point, since the yogurt in the marinade will generate enough water for the chicken to cook in and the gravy to thin out. Once the chicken pieces are well coated with the onion-tomato mix, reduce flame to medium-low and let it sit covered for 5 mins. Stir occassionally.

Add the kasuri methi. Cover and let it cook for another 10 mins stirring occassionally.

Uncover and cook further till the moisture evaporates and the gravy thickens.

Garnish with cilantro and serve hot with rotis or rice. Sliced onion, mixed with some Chat Masala and lemon juice, goes very well when served on the side of Butter Chicken.

butter chicken

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9 thoughts on “for the love of Butter Chicken

  1. I know Vasanti helped, didn’t she? 😉
    Looks really good! 🙂

  2. Vijjjjaaaayyyyy,

    When are you next visiting Cali???? This looks so mouth watering….ok ok..before I end this….my dear hubby wants to say something… “While I totally appreciate the father’s day sentiments behind your effort… I have to say that this could not be your recipe… for a very simple reason – there is no mention of pepper… no balan recipe is complete without pepper!”

  3. Vijay, I am impressed!! Please teach my husband too…haha

  4. Vijay, this does look very similar to the “Abhishek” offered to the Gods in “Sarovar”…brilliant!

  5. Vijay…Just wanted to let u know, we tried this and it came out A M A Z I N G…Such a great recipe….Very easy and quick and the best part is there’s no “butter” :))

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