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Butter Chicken | www.tasteandtellblog.com

Wow – you guys are good! You all noticed that the sandwich from yesterday was upside down. I didn’t mean for it to be that way, of course. But once I had it made, I didn’t want to turn it upside down – or right side up – because then the filling would be all wrong. Yeah, I know I’m weird!

Onto this recipe…

When I first announced this month’s Cookbook of the Month, I asked for your favorite Indian dishes. Many people said Butter Chicken. So of course, I went to the cookbook and looked to see if there was a recipe for Butter Chicken. Sure enough, there was. Then I noticed below the title, it said – Chicken Tikka Masala. Well, in my little bit of experience with Indian food, I had never heard of Butter Chicken, but I have had Chicken Tikka Masala before! What I didn’t realize before is that they are the same thing!

So I had high hopes for this recipe. I believe this is probably the most popular Indian dish. Sadly, it didn’t quite pan out for me this time around. But I think I know why. First – and I’m sure this is the big one – the recipe calls for fresh tomatoes. This would have been fine if it was August and I could go out and pull fresh tomatoes from my garden. But it’s not. It’s May. And fresh tomatoes this time of year? They taste like nothing. I wish I would have used canned tomatoes, but I didn’t. I used tasteless, grocery store tomatoes. In fact, when I pureed them, it was a lovely shade of pink, not red like you would expect coming from tomatoes. So I think that was strike number 1 for this dish. It was definitely lacking the flavor that good tomatoes would have brought. Second, I marinated my chicken for a full 24 hours. I didn’t intend to, but right as I was starting my marinade, my husband said that he was craving hamburgers and wanted to grill. So I made the marinade and left the chicken to marinate overnight. Well, in the final dish, the chicken had a strange texture to it. I’m not sure if it’s because it marinated so long or what. But the recipe does say that you can marinate it overnight, so I’m not sure what happened there.

Recipe Rating: 2.75 out of 5

Butter Chicken
from Indian Home Cooking

serves 4

total time: about 45 minutes, plus marinating time

4 garlic cloves
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro stems (tender, light green parts only); optional

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds), cut crosswise into thirds
1 large red onion, cut into large chunks
4 garlic cloves
2 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/3 cup canola oil
1-inch piece cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, pureed in a food processor
1/2 cup heavy cream

For the marinade, combine the ingredients in a food processor and puree.

Toss the chicken with the marinade in a bowl and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to overnight, if you can.

When the chicken has marinated, puree the onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor and set aside.

Combine the oil and the cinnamon stick in a large saucepan or casserole over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the cinnamon stick unfurls, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the onion puree and salt, and cook, stirring, until it turns light golden brown, about 20 minutes. Keep a cup of water beside the stove while the onion cooks. As the onion begins to stick, add water, about 1 teaspoon at a time, and scrape the bottom of the pan with the spoon to pull up the browned bits and keep the onion from burning.

Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add the pureed tomatoes, give the sauce a stir, and simmer until the oil separates, about 10 minutes. Add the cream, bring to a simmer, and take the sauce off the heat. Heat the oven to 350F. Lift the chicken breasts out of the marinade and arrange them in a single layer on a drip tray or, in a pinch, a foil-lined baking sheet. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Then put them into the pan with the sauce and stir gently. Warm over medium heat 5 minutes. Taste for salt and serve hot.

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13 Responses to Cookbook of the Month Recipe – Butter Chicken aka Chicken Tikka Masala

  1. Brenda De Sousa says:


    I'm one of the ones who suggested butter chicken, lol. Sorry you weren't that thrilled with it. It's my absolute favourite Indian dish, you have to give it another try one day, maybe a different recipe. You'll love it, I promise. :o)

  2. Kim says:

    Sorry to hear that it wasn't your favorite. It looks really tasty to me! I love butter chicken and used a recipe that called for canned tomatoes, which worked well. I think the recipe came from the PW's tasty kitchen site.

  3. kat says:

    I think its weird that this is called butter chicken & tikka masala because I consider those two different dishes. Butter chicken is our favorite so I wonder if that is just a weird recipe

  4. The Meal Planner says:

    I agree with Kat. Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala are two different recipes. It's very strange that an Indian cookbook would call it the same thing. The Indian name of Butter Chicken is Murgh Makhani. Tikka Masala was actually created by the British and is considered their National dish. Umm….so I would definitely say this is a weird recipe! Especially if you didn't fall over and die after you ate it 🙂 Both those dishes when done right are absolutely incredible. The hard thing is finding a good recipe since there are thousands of recipes for the same dish. Good luck with the rest of the recipes you picked!

  5. Natalie says:

    Funny, I just picked up some garam masala yesterday in the hopes of making some Indian recipes in the near future. Already have this one bookmarked 🙂

  6. Joanne says:

    I'm so sorry you weren't thrilled with this! I really love chicken tikka masala, maybe this recipe was just a dud.

  7. Veeda says:

    i've never heard of butter chicken either. But I do love Tikka Masala, hope you find one that works for you (and you can pass it on to me).

  8. teresa says:

    bummer! i've heard of tikka masala a lot, but never tried it. maybe take two will be better, it sure looks delicious!

  9. Erin from Long Island says:

    ohhhhh boo! this recipe is kinda whack. first of all, those are 2 different dishes. Second, there seem to be a lot of ingredients missing, like whole spices, lime, and almonds. I hope you find another recipe or two and give it another shot, it really is a delicious dish!

  10. Miss Kittie says:

    I also believe Tikka and Butter Chicken are two different recipes. I'm sorry this didn't turn out excellent. We have a great butter chicken recipe on our blog, if you want to check it out. It's one of our favorites. We are always torn between korma and butter chicken when we go out for Indian. Going to the buffet is best, though – no choice required!
    Let me know how you like it if you try to make it. http://flavorprofiling.wordpress.com/2010/01/20/butter-chicken/

  11. Chocolate Shavings says:

    Looks delish!

  12. Lindsay says:

    The trick with this one is to let the sauce sit for a day (even two), refrigerated of course,before reheating and serving. I usually make it on Sunday and eat it for lunch and dinner the next few days (we have no children and we both work until 6pm, so it’s easier for us to do it that way). By the second day, the flavors have melded together and it tastes better than right after it’s cooked

  13. Colette says:

    I love Butter Chicken, can’t wait to try this recipe, thanks!

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