Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani)

I've bookmarked this recipe a long time ago. Somehow, I forgot about it. Recently when one of my friends and loyal reader of this blog, Sibil asked me for a butter chicken recipe, the first thing that came to my mind was the mouthwatering picture of butter chicken in the book, 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi.

When I read the recipe initially, I thought its very complicated and time consuming. Finally when I finished cooking this dish, I was amazed with how easy it was!

Please dont get demotivated by the elaborate recipe. It's easy, otherwise you'd not be seeing it here. You should know by now that am a big fan of easy & simple recipes :)

Here is the recipe…

Recipe source: 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi.

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Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani)

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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4 -5
Author: Maria Jose Martin


  • 900 gms Chicken
  • 4-5 tbsp Oil

For Marinade

  • 150-200 ml Full-fat yogurt
  • 1 – 1.25 tbsp each Ginger & garlic paste
  • 2-3 tsp Kashmiri chilly powder
  • 3 tsp Coriander powder
  • 1 – 1.5 tsp Cumin powder
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp Garam masala
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt

For Makhani Sauce

  • 2-3 medium Tomatoes
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp Kasuri methi (fenugreek leaves)
  • 75 gms Chilled butter (refer notes)
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika / Kashmiri chilly powder
  • 1/2 tsp Vinegar (optional)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
  • 40 gm Whipping cream


  • First prepare the marinade. Place the yogurt in a piece of cheese cloth and hang to allow the whey to drip away( refer notes). Add the marinade to yogurt and mix well. Make gashes in the chicken if using pieces on the bone. Marinate the chicken in the yogurt mixture for at least 1 hour, preferably 2; for best results leave overnight.
  • Heat 4-5 tbsp oil in a large, thick-bottomed skillet and put in the chicken with the marinade. Cover and cook on low-medium heat till the chicken is done. Turn the chicken over during cooking. Keep the cooked chicken aside.
  • Scald the tomatoes for the makhani sauce and peel off the skin. Reduce to a semi-pulp with a fork or potato masher. Heat 2 tsp oil in a frying pan and put the tomato pulp. Cook for 5 mins or so until the liquid has evaporated slightly. Add the chilled butter and paprika; after the butter has melted, let it cook for just 1 minute. Taste, if its not sour, add vinegar. Add the kasuri methi (crush it using hands or mortar & pestle) and garam masala and salt. After 30 seconds, add the cream and stir. The makhani sauce is ready. Add the cooked chicken pieces to the sauce and mix well. Serve hot.
  • Update as on 28/08/09: Some changes are made in the the qty of certain ingredients (yogurt & tomato) . Initially, I mentioned it in my notes below,but looks like most people read the notes after they finish cooking. So I thought its better to make the changes directly in the recipe itself :) and now you see the updated recipe.
  • Notes by the author of the recipe: You can cook the chicken ahead of time. But makhani sauce takes only 5-6 mins and should be made when the dish is to be eaten. In India, restaurateurs mix a little papaya puree into the marinade as a tenderizer. The above quantity serves 4-5 people.


I made only half the qty of the above recipe. I used boneless chicken pieces(chicken breast) and marinated it overnight.
I used Almarai brand (available in Gulf countries) whipping cream. If you're using whipping cream, 1/3 – 1/2 cup of cream is enough for the above recipe.
I used very less butter, around 10-15 gm for half the qty of the above recipe.
I pureed the tomatoes using a blender.
I added the yogurt directly without dripping away the excess water.
The gravy tends to thicken in due course, so adjust your gravy accordingly.
I didnt add vinegar.
The original measurements of spice powders in the recipe was less, so I've given my measurements. If you want a less spicy version, adjust it accordingly.
Tried this recipe? Let others know by…mentioning @mariasmenu or tagging #mariasmenu
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67 thoughts on “Butter Chicken (Murg Makhani)”

  1. hi maria

    i was going thorugh the recipe. i might sound stupid but im very new to cooking and i gotta cook for my friends here in germany. just wanted to make sure. it says as follows

    Add the remaining number 3 ingredients and lime juice and salt to the yogurt and mix well.

    For Marinade

    Full-fat yogurt – 150-200 ml
    Ginger & garlic paste – 1 -1¼ tbsp each
    Kashmiri chilly powder – 2-3 tsp
    Coriander powder – 3 tsp
    Cumin powder – 1 – 1½ tsp
    Garam masala – ½ – 1 tsp
    Lime juice – 2 tsp

    I dont uderstand what to add actually, if we are adding ginger garlic paste, chilly powder and coriander powder, what about cuin powder and garam masala..? when to add them..?
    sorry about this kind of questions, please do reply.

    thanks a lot and looking forward to try your recipe for my college event.

    • Hi Jackson,

      First of all, apologies for the delayed reply.

      About your query, it was a mistake in the recipe. The recipe was in a different format earlier and when it got changed to the new format, some confusion happened. I’ve corrected it now. Sorry for the confusion.

      Hope you get to try this sometime for your friends :)


  2. Hey Maria,

    My husband loves butter chicken and i plan to try this recipe for him. I was wondering if i could use Puck Cooking Cream instead of whipping cream in the sauce?

    Thanks and keep giving us great recipes!

  3. Hi Maria,

    I tried this recipe yesterday and I was amazed at how well it turned out. Both my boys loved it..according to them the best butter chicken they have ever tasted.

    Thanks for posting such clear, easy to follow recipes.


    • Hi Beena,

      Great to know that your boys enjoyed this dish and gave you such a huge compliment :)

      Thank you so much for sharing your feedback here.


  4. My roomie s a true blue punju and she said the dish was chakde phate!! Thanks again for the recipe Maria! Urs is def by far easiest one. Just one change I made.. I added a tsp of sugar just to make it a Lil sweet. Or else spot on.

    • Hi Anju,

      Thanks dear for leaving the comment here! I’m glad this recipe got a stamp of approval from your Punjabi friend :) Btw, the photo looks great!


  5. Hi Maria,
    Awesome blog… It has been a lifesaver many a good times… Thank you….. I am thinking of preparing this recipe for a party tomorrow…. I would like to know if v can prepare the chicken today and add the sauce to it tomorrow… also if v say double the chicken should v double all the other ingredients as well??

  6. I tried the recipe…..but sad to say mine was an utter flop…….the cream seemed to be in a curdled form…..any suggestions for that

    • H Monica,

      Sorry to hear that the recipe didnt work out well for you :(

      I guess the curry was curdled when cold cream was added to the hot base. May be next time, you can keep the cream at room temp for sometime and then add to the base.

      Hope this helps…


  7. Hi Maria,
    I used this recipe to make butter chicken for a party here and it was a super hit..everyone loved it, and people said that this was the best butter chicken they ever had..all thanks to you for this wonderful yet simple recipe

  8. Hello Maria,
    Its such an easy and nice recipe. It came out well except that it had a slight raw taste of Kashmiri chilly powder. Then I added more cream and a little sugar. It made it better. I used Eastern Kashmiri chilly powder. I have noticed this taste when ever I used Kashmiri chilly powder. Can u suggest some solution for this? Your recipes are the best!!

    • Hi Divya,

      Thanks dear :) I’m glad this recipe worked for you..

      May be you can fry the chilli powder in little bit oil for a few seconds and add to curry to get rid of the raw taste, hope this helps..

  9. hello Maria,

    I finally tried this one today It worked out well though I tweaked the spice measurements to suit my family’s palate. I really like that you make the effort to connect with your blog readers. Keep up the good work:-)

    Also, a friend once made a neymeen roast that was to die for. Roast is prolly not the correct way to describe it, but you know Kerala egg roast that we have with appams, the gravy had a similar consistency and texture.. She was secretive about the recipe (yeah… some friends are like that:-)) any chance you know of this one?


  10. This was soooooo good!!! It was even better than what we get in restaurants! I didn’t have cream, so I made some cashew paste and used that instead… Thanks so much for this recipe Maria… Its kinda rare to find chicken gravy recipes which do not need a mountain of sliced/chopped onions, so this one is all the more precious.THANK YOU!!!

  11. Tried butter chicken today..came out well..thanks for  the recipie..i always suggest ur blog to my friends and relatives…

    • Thank you Twinkle for trying the recipe and and a big Thank you for recommending this space to your friends n family :) Appreciate it very much!


  12. Hi Maria..am a big fan of you blog…and as a beginner into cooking most of my recipes have turned out to be great following all the steps in ur recipes..a big thanks for that :)

    I tried your Butter Chicken recipie, but I am unsure where I messed it up..when i put the overnight-marinated chicken into the oil..i cooked as much as it got dry..was that wrong? or shud i have left the gravy that was formed? I wasnt able to get the right curry consistency with the tomatoes and whipping cream alone..i followed exactly as ur recipie said..and also the whipping cream..is almarai whipping cream sweet? because my curry turned out to be sweet when I used the whipping cream..

    •  Hi Sneha,

      Thanks a lot for trying the recipes from here :)

      The marinade tends to dry up when you cook the chicken, so I dont think that’s the problem. By right consistency, do you mean the gravy? Al marai whipping cream is not sweet. I guess the chilli powder was less. Though I’ve mentioned 2-3 tsps, the hotness of chilli powder varies for each brand. May be you can increase it’s qty a bit and see.

      Btw, if you use ready made tomato puree/ketchup instead of fresh tomatoes, that can also cause sweetness.


  13. hai maria,
    iam so glad that u have given a section for north indian dishes….. i love north indian dishes ..i have tried butter chicken at my home…it was delicious my family liked it …hats off to you for keeping the best recipes in this….thank you somuch maria  for all your recipes


  14. Hi Maria,

    I just love this blog..i’ve tried many other blogs however I felt I couldn’t rely much on their recipes.But this is one blog which I feel is really good and  trying the recipes isn’t a risk because it always comes out well, infact great!! :-) ..
    Thanks a lot for all your recipes.

    • Hi Anju,

      Thanks a ton for the comment. It’s a pleasure and honour to know that you trust the recipes posted here :)

      I’m sorry for the delayed reply, I was away on a small holiday.


  15. We are cooking our way through “50 Great Curries of India” by Camellia Panjabi. As of Feb. 2012 we have cooked 27 of the 50. Only a few of our finished dishes have looked like the beautiful photos in the book, but most have turned out delicious! Check out our tasting notes of each curry we have cooked so far on the “50 Curries Project” page of my blog: Cycling Chef in the VeloKitchen.

  16. hiiii mariaa…….

    u made my life easy………..
    thank u for the quick  & easy recipe…………( butter chicken )
    ur recipe corner makes cooking and life tension free………..

    nishaaa nambiar

  17. hiiiii mariaaa………….
    u made my life easy………..
    i should also thank my friend andrea who briefed me about ur site………
    ur recipe corner reallyyyyyyyy makes me tension free……..while in kitchen..

    nishaaa nambiar

    • Hi Nisha,

      Thanks a lot dear for the wonderful comment! Great to know that you find this space helpful. Please do convey my special thanks to your friend Andrea, for recommending :)

      Happy cooking :)


    • Hi Sindhu,

      I’m good dear, thanks!

      I think, there are many versions of butter chicken recipe. However for the above recipe, I didnt use onions.


  18. maria,if i am using only half d chicken qnty should i half all d other ingredient measurement too?

  19. hey maria…i’m planning to make butter chicken today and found this recipe here…i just noticed it’s from 50 Great Curries of India by Camellia Panjabi. I have recently posted a recipe- Egg Chettinad from this book too…:) and the dish came out so well….:)…I just love this book too…:)…

  20. Maria kuttiiiiiiiiiiii… d recipe was a hit durin d party! :D everyone luvd it.. n i truly owe it to you for posting d recipe.. THANK U soooooooooooooo much dear! gr8 goin! :)

    • Sibil dear,

      you’re always welcome :) I was eagerly waiting for your feedback and am very excited to know that it came out well :)

      Thanks a lot dear for your encouraging words…


  21. Hi Maria,

    I tried ur recipie.it was so yummy and my husband liked it very much.Thanks for posting the Onam recipies too……..Happy Onam…………………….

  22. Hi Maria,
    I made the curry today.. and i made you rice pulav too… both came out nicely.. i liked the butter chicken … mine dint have the bright red color that u have in the picture.. mine was more brownish… may be because of the chilli.. dont know.. any tips for the color??

    thank u!!!

    • Hi Nisha

      Very happy to know that you liked it :). Regarding the color, I think its because of the chilly powder. I get my Kashmiri chilly powder from home, my mom in law buys whole kashmiri chillies and gets it powdered from a mill.

      Also for this recipe I used extra kashmiri chilly powder n paprika to get the color :)

  23. Hi maria…..Made it….and it was yummy…Myself and Husband loved it very much….He said it was too good
    But I have reduced the amount of curd and tomato
    I used 6 tbs of curd (100 mls) and 1 tomato (125g) for 600 gm of chicken…..Enthaa taste…
    Thank u….

  24. Hi Maria,
    the pic looks adipoli… i am going to try this is tomo..
    i like this dish..but most of the recipies i chekce dreuires cashew paste and lengthy process. i like quick recipes… so hopefully this one will turn out good.. fingers crossed!!
    will let you know..

  25. Thanks Varsha and I checked your butter chicken recipe as well. Except for the spices and onion part, I think the method and all is somewhat same. I’ve actually tried that version also long time back :)

    Thanks Ria

    Aswathy – Pls do try it and let me know how it turns out. hope your kids will like it too. I think adding cashew paste is also good, it will make the gravy more rich :)

    Thaks Divz – we enjoyed it very much :)

    Thanks Tinakutty :)

    Thanks Aajan. Hope you’ll like this version too :)

  26. Looks yummy.. Shall definitely try it out.
    Like one of the comments above, the recipy which I have had onions and cashew paste..which comes out good also.

  27. I was searching for this recipe. This is one dish that u never get tired of. further more, kids just love it. i was under the impression that it required onion and cashew paste. this looks fairly quick and easy recipe. Will surely try this out in Onam break. Thanks Maria. :)

  28. Ramadan Mubarak to u too maria.
    That one looks exactly like butter chicken that we get here in M&S and all…..I love butter chicken too, and urs looks superb…Maria, I was always scared to use so much yogurt in my sauce whenever I go for a recipe with so much curd in it and tends to use less. Ur recipe mentions 400 g yogurt and 700g tomatoes. Curry nalla puli undakumo?I liked ur method of not frying the chicken and would like to give it a try….
    Have a nice day.

    • Hi Shabs

      Thanks dear :)

      Btw, thanks a ton for asking me about the yogurt and tomato qty. Actually I wanted to mention it in my notes, but I forgot it somehow. Thanks again dear, I’ve updated my notes :)

      Yes the curry tends to be on tangier side. But when you have it with rice its ok. I generally like tangy flavor and add tomato ketchup in almost everytg to get that extra kick ;)

  29. That looks adipoli Maria..so quick this is..:)
    I just love this one dish n its my for-guests dish always..for veggies,I use paneer in the same method..I am following Sanjeev kapoor’s method n its bit more elaborate I guess..like there is whole spices n onions n such..Its in my blog..Do check if you like.:)

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