Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)

Butter Chicken


Hi friends – it’s been a while!  But I’m back and I’m excited to share my fool-proof recipe for *almost* guilt free, healthier butter chicken.  I realize that this probably sounds like an oxymoron, but I promise you this recipe delivers full on flavour with minimal use of butter and cream.

Murgh makhani, or butter chicken, has become so ubiquitous over the years that it’s almost a guaranteed menu staple at most, if not all, Indian and Pakistani restaurants.  And while most recipes rely heavily on a combination of fat (namely from butter, cream, and nuts) and spice, I wanted to create a not so guilty version of this dish that focused on juicy morsels of marinated meat bathed in a thick, spicy-sweet tomato sauce.  This isn’t exactly what one would call an authentic recipe.  But what this lacks in authenticity, it makes up for in BIG flavour.  Go ahead and give it a try – I promise you won’t be disappointed! 


Murgh Makhani (Butter Chicken)
Serves 4
A recipe for guilt free and foolproof butter chicken.
Chicken Marinade
  1. 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, trimmed and cubed
  2. 1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, whipped
  3. 2 tsp ginger garlic paste (or 1 tsp grated ginger and 1 tsp grated garlic)
  4. 1/2 tsp red chili powder
  5. 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  6. 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  7. 1/8 tsp ground turmeric
  8. 1/2 tsp salt
  9. 1 T lemon juice
  10. 1/2 tsp garam masala
Butter Chicken Sauce
  1. 2 T olive oil + 1 T unsalted butter
  2. 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  3. 1 small stick cinnamon (about 1/4 inch piece of cinnamon)
  4. 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  5. 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  6. 1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves, crushed (also called kasoori methi in Indian grocery stores)
  7. 2 medium sized plum tomatoes
  8. 1 green chili pepper, seeded and sliced into long strips (you can leave seeds and rib intact if you prefer a spicier sauce)
  9. salt to taste (I used approximately 1/4 tsp salt)
  10. 1 1/4 tsp honey
  11. 3 T milk (I used nonfat, but you can use whatever you have on hand)
  12. cilantro for garnish
  1. Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a large bowl and marinate anywhere from 2 hours to overnight.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. While the oven is heating, skewer the chicken cubes and place them over a large baking sheet. Brush some of the marinade over the skewers.
  3. Bake the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes, being sure to rotate the skewers half way.
  4. Once the chicken is done, remove from the oven and tent baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  5. To make the butter chicken sauce, heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy-based pan over medium high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the cumin seeds and cinnamon stick.
  6. As the cumin seeds start to splutter, add the sliced onion, ginger garlic paste, and crushed fenugreek leaves. Cook this mixture uncovered for about 7 minutes, stirring often to prevent the onions from burning.
  7. After about 7 minutes, the onion mixture will be deep brown in colour. At this point, add the tomatoes and green chili strips and cook uncovered until the tomatoes start to break down the mixture begins to thicken.
  8. Once the tomatoes begin to dry and the mixture has thickened, remove the small piece of cinnamon and discard. Transfer the tomato mixture to a blender and blitz everything to a smooth sauce. Return the sauce to the pan and reduce the heat to low.
  9. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and stir in the honey. Remove the chicken from the skewers and place this into the sauce.
  10. Stir in the milk and give the pan a good stir. Once the chicken has heated through, off the heat and garnish with cilantro. Serve with naan or basmati rice and enjoy!
  1. The sauce for the butter chicken can be made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use.