Exploring Passage to India’s Authentic Butter Chicken Recipe

Introduction: The Origin of Butter Chicken

The fragrant aroma of butter chicken is a signature dish of North Indian cuisine. The dish is a delicious blend of tender chicken pieces simmered in a creamy tomato-based sauce with a myriad of spices. The origins of butter chicken can be traced back to the early 20th century in Punjab, India, where it was invented by a restaurateur named Kundan Lal Gujral. Gujral innovated the dish by marinating the chicken in yogurt and spices before cooking it in a tandoor oven. He then added the chicken to a creamy tomato-based sauce enriched with butter and cream, creating the now-famous butter chicken.

The Ingredients Used in Authentic Butter Chicken Recipe

The authentic butter chicken recipe consists of a blend of aromatic spices such as cumin, coriander, turmeric, and garam masala. The main ingredients used in this recipe are chicken, butter, cream, and tomatoes. The chicken is marinated in a mixture of yogurt, ginger, garlic, and spices to tenderize and infuse the meat with flavor. The sauce is made from fresh tomatoes that are first cooked down to remove the skin and seeds, then blended to create a smooth paste. The sauce is then enriched with butter and cream, creating a velvety texture that complements the tender chicken pieces. Other ingredients that may be added to enhance the flavor of the dish include onions, green chilies, and fenugreek leaves.

Preparation and Cooking Process of Butter Chicken

Preparing authentic butter chicken involves several steps. First, the chicken is marinated in a mixture of yogurt, ginger, garlic, and spices for at least two hours. The chicken is then cooked in a tandoor oven or a regular oven until it is tender and slightly charred. The sauce is made by cooking tomatoes, onions, and spices in butter until they are soft and fragrant. The mixture is then blended to create a smooth paste, which is then simmered with the cooked chicken pieces until the flavors meld together. Finally, the dish is garnished with fresh cream and coriander leaves.

Tips for Achieving the Perfect Butter Chicken

To achieve the perfect butter chicken, it is important to use fresh ingredients and quality spices. The chicken should be marinated for at least two hours to ensure that the flavors penetrate the meat. The sauce should be cooked slowly to allow the spices to release their flavors and create a rich, velvety texture. Adding a dollop of butter and cream at the end of cooking enhances the flavor and richness of the sauce. Lastly, serving the dish with fresh coriander leaves and naan bread adds a touch of freshness and texture.

Best Accompaniments for Butter Chicken

Butter chicken is best enjoyed with naan bread or basmati rice to soak up the delicious sauce. A refreshing salad of cucumber, onion, and tomato with lemon juice and salt makes a great side dish. A glass of lassi or mango juice complements the dish well and helps to cool down the heat from the spices.

Regional Variations in Butter Chicken Recipe

The butter chicken recipe has evolved over time and has regional variations. In some parts of India, fenugreek leaves are added to the sauce to give it a unique flavor. In other regions, cashew paste or ground almonds are used to thicken the sauce and add creaminess. Some variations also include the addition of dried fruits such as raisins and apricots.

How Butter Chicken Became a Global Delicacy

Butter chicken has gained immense popularity worldwide and is now a favorite in Indian restaurants globally. The dish’s popularity can be attributed to its creamy texture, rich flavor, and the use of aromatic spices. The dish has been adapted to suit different palates and preferences in various countries, with the addition of unique ingredients and flavors.

The Nutritional Value of Butter Chicken

Butter chicken is a high-calorie dish due to its rich ingredients. A serving of butter chicken contains approximately 590 calories, 39 grams of fat, and 32 grams of protein. However, the dish is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and iron.

Frequently Asked Questions about Butter Chicken

Q. Is butter chicken spicy?
A. The level of spiciness in butter chicken can vary depending on the recipe. However, most authentic butter chicken recipes have a mild level of spiciness.

Q. Can I use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs for butter chicken?
A. Yes, chicken breast can be used instead of chicken thighs. However, chicken thighs are preferred as they are more tender and have more flavor.

Q. Can the dish be made vegetarian?
A. Yes, the dish can be made vegetarian by replacing the chicken with paneer or tofu.

Authentic Butter Chicken Recipe: Step by Step Guide


  • 500g boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish


  1. In a large bowl, mix the chicken with ginger garlic paste, yogurt, cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder, and garam masala. Cover and marinate for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C) and line a baking tray with foil. Place the chicken on the tray and bake for 20 minutes or until cooked through.
  3. In a large pan, melt the butter and sauté the onion and garlic until soft and fragrant.
  4. Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar, and salt. Cook until the tomatoes are soft and pulpy.
  5. Use an immersion blender to blend the tomato mixture into a smooth paste.
  6. Add heavy cream to the tomato mixture and stir well.
  7. Add the baked chicken pieces to the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens.
  8. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with naan bread or basmati rice.
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Written by John Myers

Professional Chef with 25 years of industry experience at the highest levels. Restaurant owner. Beverage Director with experience creating world-class nationally recognized cocktail programs. Food writer with a distinctive Chef-driven voice and point of view.

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