Skip to content
Open menu Close menu

Feed your appetite for cooking with Penguin’s expert authors

penguin logo

Butter Chicken

A creamy butter chicken recipe from Rick Stein. Similar to the timeless tikka, this chicken curry is marinated first in chilli powder, then in a spicy yoghurt.

From the book


In Australia butter chicken is as ubiquitous as chicken tikka masala is in the UK. I make the comparison with reason because they’re virtually the same dish. This does lead me to wonder whether all the stories about how chicken tikka masala was invented in the UK are true. The most common one of these is that it was a way Indian restaurants had of refreshing chicken cooked in the tandoor and not sold, i.e. by putting it in a spicy tomato sauce and reheating it. In fact, the practice of marinating chicken in spiced yogurt and cooking it in the intense dry heat of a tandoor, then adding a delicious sauce of slow cooked garlic and ginger with chilli, coriander, cinnamon, tomato, cream and a paste of cashew and pumpkin seeds, is an Amritsar classic.

Read more Read less


4 large chicken breasts, skinned, each cut into 2 or 3 pieces at an angle
For the first marinade:
Juice of 2 limes
1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
1 tsp salt
For the second marinade:
50g natural yogurt
50g double cream
20g/4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
25g/5cm ginger, roughly chopped
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
¾ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp beetroot powder (for colour; optional)
For the sauce:
50g ghee
25g/5 cloves garlic, finely crushed
25g/5cm ginger, finely grated
400g tomato passata
½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp garam masala
1 tsp desiccated coconut
1½ tsp salt
200ml water
25g cashew nuts
25g pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp boiling water
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves
½ tsp caster sugar
45ml double cream
pinch of Chat masala
handful of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
15g/3cm ginger, finely shredded

Essential kit

You will need: a food processor.


For the first marinade, mix the lime juice, chilli powder and salt together in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces to the marinade, then cover and transfer to the fridge to marinate for 1 hour.

For the second marinade, put all the ingredients apart from the chat masala into a mini food processor. Blend until smooth, then add this to the marinated chicken and stir well to coat. Cover and transfer to the fridge to marinate for 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 240°C/Gas 9 (or 220°C if your oven doesn’t go that high).

Thread the chicken on to lightly oiled metal skewers (you can put more than one piece per skewer, but leave space between them) then suspend the skewers above a roasting tin. Alternatively place them on a wire rack over a roasting tin. Roast for 15–20 minutes, or until lightly charred in places but not completely cooked through, as you’ll finish cooking them in the sauce.

For the sauce, while the chicken is cooking, heat the ghee in heavy-based saucepan or karahi over a medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a minute, then stir in the tomato passata and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes. Add all the spices, coconut, salt and 100ml of the water and simmer for a further 10 minutes.

In a mini food processor, or using a pestle and mortar, blend the cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds and boiling water into a paste. Stir this into the sauce followed by the chicken pieces and another 100ml water.

Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through, then stir in the fenugreek leaves, sugar and cream and cook for a further 2 minutes. Sprinkle with chat masala, garnish with fresh coriander and ginger, and serve.


Subscribe to The Happy Foodie email newsletter

Get our latest recipes, features, book news and ebook deals straight to your inbox every week

From the book: Rick Stein’s India

Close menu