Butter Chicken

A few years ago a British minister declared chicken tikka masala (aka Butter chicken) to be one of UK’s national dishes. It is certainly one that they helped invent during the British Raj . Every curry house sells their own version. It’s a combination of tandoori or oven baked spiced chicken in a creamy tomato sauce. Ours is a little more interesting and nuanced with the addition of fenugreek and warm spices. 

makes ~6 cups


1 lb chicken thighs, boneless

2 tsp brightly colored chili powder like Degghi Mirch

3 Tbsp plain yogurt

1 tsp minced garlic

1 Tbsp ginger purée 

1 Tbsp melted butter

½ tsp salt

½ cup canned tomato purée

½ cup heavy cream

1 Tbsp ginger purée 

1 tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp dried fenugreek leaves

½ tsp ground cardamom

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground clove

½ stick (2 oz) butter

1 tsp salt


  1. Trim the fat and cut the chicken thighs in to 2-3 pieces. Marinate in the chili powder, yogurt, garlic, ginger purée, butter and salt and refrigerate for an hour or overnight. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the chicken onto a parchment paper lined sheet pan and bake for 10-12 minutes. 
  3. Combine the tomato puree, heavy cream, ginger, black pepper, fenugreek leaves, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes. 
  4. Add the baked chicken and the cardamom, cinnamon, clove, butter & salt. Simmer for another 3-4 minutes then turn the heat off. 

ideas / variations

  • This recipe is delicious with shrimp, paneer or tofu (adjust cook time accordingly). 
  • Replace cream with coconut milk, yogurt with coconut milk or coconut yogurt, and butter with coconut or olive oil for a vegan version with hearty vegetables.