Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mughlai Chicken ( Butter Chicken )

Mughlai Chicken curry, or most widely known as Butter Chicken is an authentic chicken curry originated from the Mughal Empire, created for the royal Emperors. Mughlai cuisine is heavily based on butter(ghee), nuts, dried fruits, and usage of aromatic whole spices. It is famous for its very mouth-watering, aromatic features. The Mughlai chicken curry is mild in taste with a rich creamy gravy. It is a special dish made in celebrations with the usage of nuts (almonds, cashews) and cream. However, my version does not include the almond paste. Here it is.. enjoy!

Servings - 6

  • Chicken - 1 whole( 4-5 lb), cut up in small pieces
  • Ghee(clarified butter) - 1/2 cup
  • Tomato puree - 1 lb/450 gm can
  • Cream/ Sour cream - 1 cup

  • For the marinade:
  • Garlic cloves - 4 lrg, crushed
  • Ginger root - 1 inch pc, finely grated
  • Lime juice - 1 whole lime
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp

  • For spice mixture:
  • Red dried chili pepper - 1 tbsp
  • Coriander seeds- 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Green cardamon - 4-5 pcs
  • Cloves - 4-5 pcs
  • Cinnamon stick - 2 inch long pc
  • Black Pepper corns - 1 tsp
  • Star Anise - 1/2 of a small pc
  • 1. In a skillet, dry roast/toast the whole spices of the spice mixture, on high heat for 4-5 min. Make sure to stir the spices constantly when you toast them as they will burn very quickly. You will know when the spices are perfectly roasted, when they release their beautiful aroma. Remove from heat and let it cool.
  • 2. Clean and cut the chicken into small stew pieces. If you like you can use boneless meat, however I prefer the whole chicken as the combination of the red and white meat creates a wonderful taste. Pat the chicken pieces dry with a paper towel and set aside.
  • 3. In a blender or a coffee grinder, grind the whole spices to a smooth powder. In a sealable bowl, mix in the ingredients for the marinade, the powdered spices. Marinate the chicken in the marinade, sealed and refrigerated, for about 24 hours, or min of 2 hours.
  • 4. On the day of cooking, take the chicken out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature. In a big non-stick pan, heat 2 tbsp of butter, brown the chicken pieces in batches to have even crispy coating.
  • 5. Return all the chicken pieces to the pan, add the tomato puree and 1 cup of hot water. Bring to boil and simmer on low-med heat for about 30 min. Make sure to gently stir in occasionally for even distribution of heat.
  • 6. After the 30 min, remove the pan from top of the heat, stir in the cream and ghee, then return the pan to the heat and simmer on low heat for 10 more minutes. Turn the heat off and let it rest for 5-7 minutes. Serve with naan or polao.


  1. Hi - Butter Chicken is very popular over here in NZ, but all the recipes seem to different.

    Yours instantly appealed and having made a pan full (I have some roast chicken to use up so have made it more as a gravy to which I will the chicken and warm through later) - I can say is absolutely delicious. . .


  2. Thanx a bunch Peter. I am glad you like it. I used to live in Auckland many many years ago.
    Though I was too young so do not remember having butter chicken in the restaurants there.. .

    Anyway, thank you, its my pleasure that you like my recipe. :)