Indian Butter Chicken

Time for a savoury dish. And a random life story: So, this past Lent I felt I had to cleanse my body of all accumulated badness and decided to give up 3 of my favourite things: alcohol, Nutella and red bull. As these 3 unhealthy items are so easily replaced with worse, I found myself eating more sweets and cakes than usual…… so much for the “cleansing”. Next Lent I should probably omit sweet things in general….. although, that would probably trigger a depression…. lucky I can prescribe medication (ha, kidding, note to self: do not self medicate!). Anyways, having survived Lent physically and psychologically undamaged, a celebration was in order. A friend had given up meat, so we thought MeatLiquor was the perfect venue. Starting with a cocktail called “Game Over” (of which they actually only serve a maximum of two per customer due to ridiculous amounts of alcohol) at 6pm, I already feared the worst for my liver (and brain). 2 burgers and surprisingly buzz-free from the oh so promising “game over” later, we decided to return to a more cost-effective drink: wine. One glass turned into two turned into lets go drink a bottle at yours turned into falling asleep before midnight and waking up the next day with a sudden epiphany of why I gave up alcohol in the first place.

Lucky for me, indian is the one cuisine I thoroughly enjoy without a glass of wine. It just doesn’t match. A cold beer, possibly, but fortunately for me and my Lent endeavours, I don’t like beer. With a craving for indian food and living too far away from any decent indian restaurants which don’t require 45 mins queueing, I decided to make an all time indian favourite – butter chicken – from scratch. Naturally I asked an indian friend if this recipe was somewhat legitimate before buying a zillion ingredients. She approved. I cooked. We (she) generously adjusted the spice levels. Then ate. Verdict: YUM.

Indian Butter Chicken


ala Gordon Ramsay, with adjusted Indian approved spice levels

serves 4

You’ll need

800g boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cut into 3-4cm pieces
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely crushed
2cm ginger, peeled and finely grated
½ tsp fine sea salt
½ tsp hot chilli powder
1½ tsp lemon juice
75ml natural yoghurt
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil, for brushing

for the sauce

1½ tbsp ghee or melted unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely crushed
2cm ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 cardamom pod, seeds lightly crushed
2 cloves
1 tsp ground coriander (I doubled this)
1 tsp garam masala (I doubled this)
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp hot chilli powder, or to taste (I doubled this)
275ml tomato purée
1 tbsp lemon juice
40g unsalted butter
100ml double cream
1 tbsp chopped coriander, to garnish

  1. Place the chicken in a bowl with the garlic, ginger, salt, chilli powder and lemon juice. Mix, cover with cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile mix together the yoghurt, garam masala, turmeric and cumin and add to the chicken, making sure that each piece is well coated with the mixture. Cover again and chill for 3-4 hours or over night.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Place the marinated chicken pieces on a grill rack set on a baking tray and cook for 10 minutes. Brush the chicken pieces with a little oil and turn them over. Continue baking for another 12 minutes, until cooked through.
  4. For the sauce, heat the ghee or butter in a pan and add the garlic and ginger. Fry for a minute or so, then add the cardamom, cloves, coriander, garam masala, turmeric and chilli powder. Stir well and fry for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomato purée and lemon juice, cook for another few minutes.
  6. Add the chicken pieces to the sauce.
  7. Add the butter and cream and stir continuously until the butter has melted and the sauce is smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning (realize you will need to add alot more ground coriander, chilli powder and garam masala. In the end I think I ended up just about doubling the amount of those spices in the sauce until satisfied with the taste).
  8. Serve with basmati rice, naan and homemade cucumber raita.

Rating: 8/10

It’s pretty good butter chicken considering the recipe isn’t an indian hand-down, but only a true indian butter chicken recipe can achieve full marks

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