Monday, March 21, 2011

Butter Chicken

I have a confession to make.

I frequently blog about a dish just so that I will have easy access to the recipe later. I know I go on about how blogging allows me to explore new things, meet new people, blah, blah, blah. Often, it is for me and me only.

This is one of those dishes. I found this recipe for Butter Chicken a while back on Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen. Apparently butter chicken is an Indian dish. I know very little about Indian cooking but am not drawn to it and would have probably passed on this gem if the name gave any indication of its roots. I read some squabbling about how butter chicken is made and not made and that this was not an authentic recipe.

Authentic or not, it has become one of my favorites. I have made it several times now and love it more each time. Chicken is marinated in an exotic blend of spices, garlic, and lime juice. Onions are sauteed until tender in butter (hence, butter chicken) and then the chicken is tossed in and cooked until browned. A duo of canned tomatoes and tomato sauce are added and the mixture is left to simmer for a half hour or so. Heavy cream is the final touch and adds a rich creaminess.

The forgiving nature and adaptibility of this dish is one of the reasons I love it so. I have used chicken tenders, whole and cubed, and skinless, boneless chicken breasts. Chicken thighs or skinned chicken would work beautifully. I have used lemon juice in place of the lime and half and half as a substitute for the cream. I always forget it that it is supposed to marinate overnight and find that an hour or two in the marinade is enough to add spice, heat, and tenderize. I plan on playing with the vegetables and try adding cauliflower, peppers, and carrots.

Flavor wise, this dish is heavenly and is why I keep coming back to it. The coriander, cardamom, and cumin add smoky depth and cayenne provides the heat. It is rich, acidic, spicy, creamy - just everything you want on one lovely plate. Basmati rice is the traditional side but I prefer lightly buttered egg noddles. A hunk of crusty bread is a must to mop up every last drop of the sauce.

Please, try this. I think you will love it as much as I do.
Note: I have copied the original recipe below, but I add a little less butter (3 tablespoons) and less cream (about 1/3 - 1/2 cup). I also reduce the cayenne to about 1/4 teaspoon and omit the cilantro based on my personal preferences.

Butter Chicken
via Tasty Kitchen - lillieknits

4 pieces Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (cut Into Bite Sized Pieces)
5 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoons Black Pepper
½ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
¼ teaspoons Ground Coriander
¼ teaspoons Cumin
¼ teaspoons Cardamom
1 whole Lime, Juiced
1 whole Onion, Diced
¼ cups Butter
1 can (14.5 Oz. Can) Tomato Sauce
1 can (14.5 Oz. Can) Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 pint Whipping Cream
1 bunch Chopped Cilantro, to taste
2 cups Basmati Rice (or However Much You Want)

Combine first 9 ingredients and marinate overnight.

Saute the onion in the butter until soft. Add marinated chicken and cook about 10 minutes. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat with the lid on. Add the whipping cream (I have used light cream or half-and-half also) and cilantro just before serving over Basmati rice.
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  1. I'm the same way, especially with savory recipes. They never seem to have the same impact with readers as the sweets, but I like to have them on the blog so I can remember which ones we loved. I've been wanting to try butter chicken for a while, thanks for the reminder!

  2. This looks and sounds great. I have had Butter Chicken at an Indian restaurant near where I work and it tastes so good. I like seeing the savory recipes as well - it is a nice balance.

  3. Butter chicken is often the gateway food into loving Indian. In Vancouver we have a plethora of amazing Indian restaurants. Ask around for a good one. I'm really excited for your new adventure into Naan and Aloo Gobi. Oh man I might have to go out and get some tonight!

  4. I have cooked this exact recipe several times. It is a winner. We love it as well.

  5. I think fate keeps pushing this recipe my way. This looks really lovely & very tempting.

  6. This looks great! I'm excited to try it because I actually have all the spices on hand!

  7. I've made this recipe before and I'm absolutely crazy about it. I'd like to try it with the lite coconut milk in place of cream to lighten it up a bit. You are making me crave it again:)

    Off to check out your butter break ups.

  8. This kind of looks like curry, without the curry part. I love curry but my husband can't stand it, so this would be a perfect compromise. Plus, it has the word butter in the title, so it has to be good! :)

  9. I loooove butter chicken!!! I always get mine at Trader Joe's, now I can make it myself, yipeee!! :)

  10. I never had this dish before! It sounds so incredibly good! You've convinced me I need to try it!

  11. Hi, I came over from FFWD to look at the scallops but got side-tracked by the butter chicken! I've always bought the bottled sauce and never knew that could be so much cream in it!! :) I blog to keep a record of my recipes and for easy access too! Beautiful, golden scallops by the way! :)

  12. This chicken dish looks soooo good. I've never had Butter Chicken before but now I want to make it. Thanks so much for the recipe. :)

  13. It looks just delicious.

    "I frequently blog about a dish just so that I will have easy access to the recipe later."

    Me, too!

  14. How funny. I am LillieKnits, and I just saw this via This recipe certainly is making the rounds and getting way more attention than I ever would have dreamed when I posted it on TK. Like you, I know almost nothing about Indian cooking and could care less about how authentic it is because it's delicious! All I know is that an Indian person gave me the recipe and called it Butter Chicken. Good enough for me.

  15. i just saw this on letsdishrecipes as well and how funny that lillie is here! lillie, you changed my LIFE! ha ha! love, love, love this recipe! so easy (if I can do it, anyone can!), and i everyone i've fed it to loves it (it is my go-to dish with company)!

    candy girl--i'm thrilled to read your "forgiving nature" paragraph. i didn't know it was so adaptable and was scared to try it on my own. i'd love to hear what you do with the veggies. also, i think you'd like it with naan! not that i'm an expert--i've actually only tried this one recipe, but it was great!


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