Indian Butter Chicken

Indian Butter Chicken (Tikka Masala)

First things first. This is not Chicken Tikka Masala. There are some similarities but someone who heard I was making it said, ‘Oh you mean Chicken Tikka Masala’ and I wanted to clear that up. They’re both wonderful dishes but there are also real differences between the two. Butter chicken is a typical Punjabi dish which is a rich, creamy and yes, buttery dish that can be made as mild or as spicy as you like. Although similar, Butter Chicken originated in northwestern India and eastern Pakistan while Chicken Tikka Masala hails from the UK and incorporates different spices and uses very little butter.

Butter Chicken is one of my favorite Indian dishes and it was time to make it in my own kitchen. I have a great friend from India who is a terrific cook and If I’m thinking about making something Indian inspired I’m heading to Ansh blog Spice Roots first since I’ve had her food and I know I can trust that if it’s there, it is good. Lucky for me, Ansh and I decided to get together and cook this dish. She had not been to my new house yet so it was especially fun to have her come over for the day and we had a great time in the kitchen. We get each other; that joy of preparation that some can not begin to understand; all cemented by enjoying the fruits of our labors. I had promised a cocktail; she was taking meds for a cold so that did not happen and I won’t forget I still owe her!

Indian Butter Chicken

Ansh had joined a local bloggers group that I started a couple of years ago; we would get together once a month just to get to know each other and of course share some food. She brought a dish called Chicken 65 to our gathering and I have to tell you, I LOVE that dish. It became sort of pathetic each time she would be coming to something that I would beg her to bring some Chicken 65 to the event, so this was a big deal; there was no Chicken 65 in sight and I was good with that. Still, I am reminded I have to make it and share the love here…very soon.

I’ll be honest; if I think I like foods with heat; compared to Ansh I’m still that girl from NC who couldn’t even touch jalapeno when I first moved to Denver. She will typically ‘Americanize’ a dish for me and even then I’m often left fanning my tongue. She did her magic on this recipe too but I still needed that dollop of cold yogurt on top to temper the heat and enjoyed it so much I’ve shown you how I love to serve it. Not just to cool the heat but also because I love the juxtaposition of a hot dish with that touch of cold and creamy yogurt. It was just perfect.  I bought the na’an bread but I think we’ll make that next; another friend has mastered Ansh’s recipe for na’an and said it was easy. This time buying it from Costco was easier but I’m game!

Indian Butter Chicken with Tillamook-

Prophetic it seems I’m sure but I had just received a sample case of Tillamook Yogurt and we were both so impressed with this new addition to their product line. Their Greek yogurt is amazingly thick and creamy; we used it in the recipe and dolloped a big spoonful on top and it was perfect. Both Ansh and I are particular about ingredients in the foods we buy and we love that Tillamook is truly an all natural product. I’ve long loved their cheeses and now I’ve got a newfound love for their yogurt. So good.

Indian Butter Chicken (Tikka Masala)

You must try this dish…simply decrease the amount of jalapeno peppers a bit for a less spicy version. Or make it as is and add a big dollop of yogurt like I did; it’s fabulous! Either way; try making your own Naan bread like we did; it is the BEST!

Yield: 6-8

Indian Butter Chicken

Indian Butter Chicken
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 8-10 boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes and juice
  • 4 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
  • 10 Tbsp (1-1/4 sticks) butter
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup yogurt
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds (roast on the stovetop in a small pan).
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed minced cilantro

Instructions

  1. Cut the chicken pieces neatly into quarters.
  2. Put tomatoes, jalapeno and ginger in a blender or food processor and blend to a fine puree.
  3. Place 1 stick of butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. When the foam begins to subside, add the chicken pieces, a few at a time, and sear until they are nicely browned all over (about 2-3 minutes per batch). Remove them with a slotted spoon into a bowl and put aside.
  4. Add the 4 teaspoons of cumin and the paprika to the butter in the pan and cook, stirring rapidly, for 10-15 seconds. Add the tomato mixture and cook, uncovered, until the sauce is thickened (about 5-8 minutes), stirring constantly to prevent sticking and burning.
  5. Add salt, cream, yogurt and chicken pieces (with any juices that have accumulated in the bowl) to the pan. Gently stir the chicken to coat the pieces evenly and thoroughly with the sauce. Be careful not to break the fragile chicken pieces. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the fat begins to separate from the sauce and a thin glaze appears on the surface (about 10 minutes). Check and stir often (but only one or two stirs at a time) to ensure that the sauce is not burning.
  6. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) of butter, garam masala, and roasted cumin.
  7. Turn off the heat, and let the dish stand, covered, for 1/2 hour before serving. When ready to serve, heat thoroughly, check for salt, and fold in the chopped coriander leaves. Serve with rice and na'an.

This post was sponsored by Foodie.com; I was also provided with a sample case of Tillamook Greek Yogurt that I used for my recipe. All commentary is my own.

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44 Comments

    1. It is so good Susan, one of those dishes you mourn when the last bite is gone. Hope you will try it!

  1. Hi, and thanks for another butter chicken recipe to add to my collection. I have just today returned from the Bengal region of India where they have a dish – had it a couple of places in Kharagpur – they call “chicken tikka butter masala” which is not exactly like a butter chicken or tikka (but close to the butter chicken). It was wonderful. Any idea what the distinction is?

    1. I’ll have to ask my friend to see if she knows but what she has told me is that butter chicken is the Indian name for it and it was only renamed to Tikka Masala when recreated in London so that it sounded exotic but there are basically one and the same. If I find out differently I will let you know; thanks for touching base.

  2. That dish look great and so does the yogurt. I would love a sampler case here in Los Angeles, CA. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  3. Well I have been educated! I thought this the same as Tikka Masala. I stand corrected! I’ve never made butter chicken, so it’s time to put this to the test– and see if I can taste the difference. My husband loves Indian food, and I’m still learning more about making it!

    1. I can’t say for sure since I’ve never done either Allison but I’m thinking tofu would work in lieu of chicken. Feel better soon!

  4. I tried authentic Indian butter chicken for the first time at a friend’s wedding last year. The groom is Indian and half the ceremony, more like most, was very authentic from the costumes to the food and even an elephant!! I had never really experienced much Indian food before , aside from yellow curry which I never cared for, and when I tried the butter chicken I fell in love. Madly in love for each and every fattening calorie. I love that you used Greek yogurt with it too. I am a fan of that as well and I can see how well it would work with the spices of the butter chicken. I will have to make your recipe soon!

  5. Yum – that butter chicken looks sooo good… I’m going to have to make it soon! I’d love to try Tillamook’s new yogurt – I’m in CA and would love to receive a box like you got! 🙂

  6. Wow this looks amazing! I’m always on the hunt for new Indian recipes at home – can’t wait until the weekend so I can try my hand at butter chicken. Thanks for the post 🙂

    I’m a bit of a Greek yogurt junkie (every morning for breakfast here in AZ!) so that’s exciting about Tillamook’s new line. I never would have thought to add it to help cut spiciness, but what a fantastic idea.

    1. I didn’t either! Until I was introduced to Butter Chicken it was probably my favorite ‘what I thought was Indian’ dish. I admit, I love this more. Must be that buttah!! 🙂

  7. This recipe looks fabulous! I have never tried to make it but certainly is on my list now. What is really nice about this recipe is that it has no seasons. You could make this year round. The Indian spices have health benefits that will help you feel better and banish pain, too. Not only does Tillamook make great yogurts, it has wonderful butter as well! This recipe wins for many reasons.

  8. I love butter chicken, but then I like anything with heavy cream! I have to admit though that I’ve never made it. I buy it in the jar! And truthfully, for prepared foods those are pretty good jars. Would much rather try making it myself and now I have a recipe! Thanks, Barb! Looks like you had a lot of fun!

  9. Barb, I always enjoy butter chicken at Indian restaurants, but hadn’t thought of trying it myself at home. Now I will – thanks to you and Ansh. Wish I was in Denver so I could join your group. We have a once a month happy hour group of foodbloggers in DC and an occasional pot luck, but I would love it if a few of us got together more regularly to cook in each others homes.

    1. I didn’t know until I decided I had to find out what made the two dishes different. Geography for one! 🙂

  10. I love butter chicken… It’s everything I love about Indian food which reminds me I really need to make it more often. Thanks for the recipe!

  11. Oooh…. I love Butter Chicken – and even though it originated in the UK I also have a thing for Tikka Masala! Just got back from London and had some absolutely brilliant Indian food – will definitely be adding this recipe to the “must make” list – will definitely help with the “I miss London” blues!!!

    1. My friend, the world traveler! I have always loved Tikka Masala too and never made it even so now think it would be easy. None are hard to master; just have to have the right ingredients.

  12. Great job, Barb!! It looks pretty awesome! I like both Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken, and they are both favourites at home, including Chicken 65! I’m glad you liked Chicken 65, its one of my favourite dishes except for the frying part. One day, you’ll have to try my versions of each of these 🙂

    Nazneen

  13. I love Butter Chicken! And I do know it differs from Tikka Masala. 😉 They’re both good, although I much prefer Butter Chicken. What a fun time the two of you must have had cooking together! And the eating you got to do afterwards was even better, I’m sure. Fun post — thanks.

    1. We had so much fun; I want to do that again. I love cooking with friends but Ansh in particular because I always learn something new.

  14. Oh Barb! Those photos are making me hungry and I might just start eating chicken again. Mouthwatering. Your photos have made the dish come alive. I must say, the Tillamook yogurt lightened this up in calories and gave it a great flavor. It’s my favorite yogurt now.

    Ps: you should have told me to dress up for the photo shoot 😉

    1. Easy really; our chatting probably added an hour to the finished time but we were OK with that too!

  15. Hi Barbara,

    Well, I would not confuse the two dishes as both are new to me, knowing little about Indian cuisine. But this one looks wonderful. Thank you for the introduction, both to this dish and to your friend.

  16. Would love to know which cocktail you’d pair with Butter Chicken. I’m in WA and can’t wait to make this.

    1. Do you know that I’ve often heard that beer is best Kim? It’s spicy and rich and I’m betting a good liquor store could recommend a beer to serve. I prefer dark beers but I can’t say for certain that would be the best one to recommend just because I would like it best! 🙂

  17. Colorado would love to try more of Tillamook’s products. Visited their plant several years ago—yum, squeaky cheese curds. The butter chicken, one of my favorites, sounds amazing. It is on my list to try!

  18. Oh boy, this does look delicious. Like you I trust Ansh’s recipes as much as Madhur Jaffrey’s. Her naan is now my favorite. I’ll have to make this for one of our family’s next curry nights.

  19. I love butter chicken and enjoyed it first at a meal where an Indian friend cooked a variety of foods for a large group of us. This was my favorite and I am thrilled to have this recipe to try to recreate it at home. So glad you and Ansh had a wonderful day in the kitchen together!

  20. I am from WA and love Tillamook! I really like the cheese samples and ice cream you can get after the tour of their facilities. It would be great to win, I haven’t tried their Greek yogurt yet. This recipe looks good!

  21. I REALLY like butter chicken but I think I like Ansh better. Isn’t she pretty!

    I’m eager to make this dish and follow your recipe exactly. I don’t have access to Tillamook but I’ll make do. 🙂

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