Chicken Makhani

Calling all butter chicken lovers! I am with you when it comes to loving this delicious and creamy dish! I will be sharing two versions of this butter chicken recipe on my blog, both of which are very tasty. The one I am sharing today is actually called chicken makhani.

Makhani basically means butter, which is one of the key ingredients of the dish along with tomatoes. The main difference between your basic butter chicken recipe and this chicken makhani is that its a lighter version with less heavy cream added. So if you are looking for something just as delicious but with fewer calories, then this is it.

I have divided the steps into two simple sections: 1) Preparing the marinade, 2) Cooking the sauce. I have mentioned alongside each of the ingredients which section it belongs in.

I like to serve butter chicken over some rice pulao or even boiled rice. But you can serve it alongside naan as well. Both ways are delicious. Let me know in the comments below if you have made butter chicken before. Let’s start!


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  1. For the marinade: place the red chili peppers, garlic, and cumin seeds into a food processor or blender and blend to incorporate them. Then add the remaining ingredients for the marinade (as listed alongside each ingredient). Pour out the marinade into a large bowl.
  2. Add the boned chicken breasts or thighs to the marinade. Then, mix them in the marinade so all the chicken pieces are evenly coated. Then cover the bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about 2-3 hours. TIP: You can use boneless chicken breasts or thighs, but a lot of flavor comes from boned chicken.
  3. For the sauce: Place the tomatoes into a large saucepan and cook them over low heat, for about 20-25 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender. There is no need to add any additional water.
  4. Once the tomatoes are tender, place them in a fine mesh strainer and rub them over a clean saucepan so that the pulp falls through. Simmer the tomato pulp over low heat for about 50 minutes until the pulp reduces and becomes thick. Make sure to stir every couple of minutes.
  5. Stir in the butter and the desired salt amount and continue cooking the sauce over medium heat for another 30 minutes, while mixing frequently. Keep tasting to make sure the salt is enough.
  6. Next, add in the heavy cream and stir to combine with the tomato sauce until the cream heats through. Now set the sauce aside.
  7. In another large heavy-bottomed pan, add the oil and heat it for a minute over medium heat. Then take the chicken pieces out from the marinade and add them to the oil. Fry the chicken for about 6 minutes until it changes in color. TIP: Don’t throw out the marinade!
  8. Add the reserved marinade to the pan and cook it over medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, or until the chicken cooks through. Make sure you stir frequently. TIP: The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165° F.
  9. Pour the tomato sauce over the chicken and mix it through. Lower the heat and simmer the butter chicken for another 5 minutes so all the ingredients become incorporated together.
  10. Pour the butter chicken into a serving dish and garnish with a dash of heavy cream and a few cilantro leaves. You can serve this alongside rice.

Storage: You can store the butter chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week.