How to Cook an Indian Dish: Journey into Butter Chicken


Indian cuisine is renowned for its rich and diverse flavours, and while some Indian dishes may appear complex, there are plenty of delicious options that are easy to prepare at home. In this article, we’ll guide you through the step-by-step process of cooking an easy yet delectable Indian dish: Butter Chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani.

Butter Chicken is a North Indian favorite characterized by its creamy tomato-based sauce and tender chunks of marinated chicken. It’s a dish that has gained popularity worldwide for its comforting and indulgent taste. Whether you’re new to Indian cooking or a seasoned home chef, this recipe is designed to be accessible and satisfying.

Let’s dive into the ingredients and steps needed to create a homemade Butter Chicken that you’ll love.


For the Chicken Marinade:

How to Cook an Indian Dish: Journey into Butter Chicken (Photo from iStock)

  1. 500 grams boneless chicken (breast or thigh), cut into bite-sized pieces
  2. 1/2 cup yogurt (preferably full-fat)
  3. 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste (a blend of fresh ginger and garlic)
  4. 1 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to your spice preference)
  5. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. 1 teaspoon garam masala
  7. Salt, to taste
  8. 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

For the Gravy:

  1. 2 tablespoons butter
  2. 1 large onion, finely chopped
  3. 2 large tomatoes, pureed
  4. 1/4 cup cashew nuts, soaked in warm water and blended into a smooth paste
  5. 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  6. 1 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to your spice preference)
  7. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  8. 1 teaspoon garam masala
  9. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  10. 1/2 cup heavy cream
  11. Salt, to taste
  12. Fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) for garnish (optional)
Now that you have your ingredients ready, let’s proceed to the cooking process.

Step 1: Marinate the Chicken

How to Cook an Indian Dish: Journey into Butter Chicken (Photo from iStock)

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, red chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, salt, and vegetable oil.
  2. Add the bite-sized chicken pieces to the marinade. Ensure that the chicken is well-coated. Cover the bowl and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, or ideally, for a few hours (overnight marination yields the best results).

Step 2: Cook the Marinated Chicken

How to Cook an Indian Dish: Journey into Butter Chicken (Photo from iStock)

  1. Heat a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat. Add a bit of oil if needed.
  2. Once the skillet is hot, add the marinated chicken pieces. Cook them until they are lightly browned and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Set aside.

Now Step 3: Prepare the Butter Chicken Gravy

How to Cook an Indian Dish: Journey into Butter Chicken (Photo from iStock)

  1. In the same pan, add 2 tablespoons of butter. Allow it to melt over medium heat.
  2. Add the finely chopped onions and sauté until they turn translucent and start to brown, which should take about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Stir in the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for another 2 minutes, until the raw aroma disappears.
  4. Add the tomato puree and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oil starts to separate from the tomato mixture.
  5. Incorporate the cashew nut paste, red chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala, and ground coriander. Continue to cook for another 5 minutes, allowing the flavours to meld.
  6. Pour in the heavy cream and mix until the sauce thickens and the chicken is fully coated. Simmer for an additional 5-7 minutes, adjusting the consistency with water if necessary.
  7. Season the Butter Chicken with salt to taste.

Step 4: Garnish and Serve

How to Cook an Indian Dish: Journey into Butter Chicken (Photo from iStock)

  1. Transfer your homemade Butter Chicken to a serving dish.
  2. If desired, garnish with fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) for a burst of freshness and color.
  3. Serve your Butter Chicken hot with steamed basmati rice, naan bread, or roti. It also pairs well with a cooling side of cucumber raita.

Variations and Tips

Butter Chicken is a versatile dish that can be customized to suit your preferences:
  1. Spice Level: Adjust the amount of red chili powder to make the dish milder or spicier according to your taste.
  2. Creaminess: For a richer and creamier texture, you can increase the amount of heavy cream or add a bit of yogurt at the end.
  3. Vegetarian Version: Substitute the chicken with paneer (Indian cottage cheese) or tofu for a vegetarian version of Butter Chicken.
  4. Healthier Options: Use low-fat yogurt and reduce the amount of butter and cream for a lighter version of this dish.
Here are some additional tips to ensure your Butter Chicken turns out perfectly:
  • Marinating the chicken for an extended period (overnight if possible) will result in more flavourful and tender meat.
  • Use ripe, red tomatoes for the tomato puree to achieve a rich and vibrant color in the gravy.
  • If you prefer a smoother texture, you can strain the tomato puree before using it in the gravy.
  • Be cautious with the amount of salt you add, as both the chicken marinade and the cashew paste may contain salt.
  • Taste and adjust the seasonings as you go, as Indian cooking often involves a balance of spices to achieve the desired flavour profile.


Cooking Indian cuisine at home may seem intimidating, but with the right ingredients and guidance, you can create a dish that’s bursting with flavour and sure to be a hit. Butter Chicken, or Murgh Makhani, is a prime example of an easy-to-make Indian dish that delivers on taste and comfort.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced cook, this recipe allows you to explore the world of Indian flavours in the comfort of your own kitchen. So, the next time you’re craving a taste of India, follow this step-by-step guide to cook up a delicious batch of Butter Chicken that you’ll absolutely love.

Butter Chicken, with its creamy tomato sauce and tender chicken, is more than just a dish; it’s an experience. The enticing aroma that fills your kitchen as you sauté the spices, the vibrant colors of the gravy, and the velvety texture of the sauce all contribute to the magic of this classic Indian cuisine. The beauty of Butter Chicken lies not only in its taste but also in its accessibility.

With this easy-to-follow recipe, you can savour the delightful flavours of India without the need for culinary expertise. So, roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and embark on a flavourful journey into the heart of Indian cooking.


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