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 and every curry house sells a version of it. 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 puree

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 cooking 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