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Chicken Makhani

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This chicken makhani recipe is one you will want to make again and again!

Gone are the days when I used to make this chicken makhani or butter chicken with my youngest daughter, Jennifer. She is far more interested in being a teenager these days.

I love including the family in the preparation of our Indian meals. With a grandchild on the way, perhaps I’ll be able to carry on the tradition.

One thing I know is that when chicken makhani is on the evening menu, the whole family returns from where they are to come home for a curry feast.

A fantastic butter chicken recipe

Jennifer’s butter chicken

It’s so good and mildly spiced which young kids prefer. The photos below are of the time I made this chicken makhani recipe with Jenn when she was nine. This really is a recipe that kids love to get involved in and make too. 

Jennifer was sent home from school that day with a homework assignment to write out her favourite recipe. Of course she chose butter chicken!

I decided it was time to set her free in the kitchen. She made this butter chicken from start to finish – no questions asked! I did light the tandoor oven for her but other than that, she was free to go to work with her spices.

Ready for the fridge

Marinating chicken for chicken makhani

I can happily say that her butter chicken was the best we’ve ever had. Even to this day. She did a green marinade for the tandoori chicken which was superb.

Cooking the chicken

You don’t need a tandoor, however to make this delicious butter chicken recipe. A barbecue will do just fine. You could also roast the marinated chicken in a 400f (200c) oven until nicely charred. That usually takes about 20 minutes. 

The chicken can be cooked in a high oven and it’s also really nice done on a barbecue. My instructions for cooking tandoori chicken on the barbecue is right here.

Jennifer may only be nine, but I promise all you butter chicken fans out there… you’re going to love this one!

Jennifer's butter chicken

Ready to eat!

Looking for more authentic chicken curry recipe ideas? Try these!

  • Murgh (chicken) Malai
  • My ‘go to’ chicken curry
  • Cumin Chicken Curry
  • Goan Chicken Xacutti
  • Bengali Chicken Curry
  • Sri Lankan Black Pepper Chicken Curry
  • Peshwari Turkey (or chicken) Curry
  • Chicken Keema Aloo
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    Cooking chicken curry

    Jennifer at the tandoor

    Nibbling on the finished chicken.

    Nibbling on the finished chicken.

    Yield: 6 - 8

    My Daughter Jennifer's Amazing Butter Chicken Recipe

    My Daughter Jennifer's Amazing Butter Chicken Recipe
    Prep Time 15 minutes
    Cook Time 30 minutes
    Total Time 45 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 18 chicken thighs – skinned and scored in three places
    • Juice of three limes
    • 1 tablespoon garlic puree
    • 1 tablespoon ginger puree
    • 2 chopped green chili peppers
    • 1 bunch chopped coriander
    • 1-tablespoon cumin powder
    • 200ml plain Greek yogurt
    • FOR THE BUTTER CHICKEN SAUCE
    • 100ml rapeseed oil
    • 3 finely sliced onions
    • 1 carrot - grated
    • 1-inch cinnamon stick
    • 2 x bay leaves
    • 2 star anise
    • 6 green cardamom pods
    • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
    • a pinch of salt
    • 1 tablespoon garlic puree
    • 1 tablespoon ginger puree
    • 2 x 400ml tins of chopped tomatoes
    • 1 teaspoon mild paprika
    • A pinch of turmeric
    • 300ml double cream
    • 3 tablespoons chilled butter

    Instructions

    1. Place the chicken thighs in a large bowl.
    2. Squeeze the lime juice over them and leave to rest while you make the marinade.
    3. In a blender, blend the garlic, ginger, chili peppers, chopped coriander, cumin and yogurt until nice and smooth.
    4. Pour this marinade over the chicken and rub it into the flesh with your hands.
    5. Leave to marinade for 3 to 48 hours. The longer the better
    6. When ready to cook the chicken, pre-heat your oven to its highest setting and cook until the chicken begins to blacken slightly on the outside. You could of course do this in a tandoor oven or on a barbecue.
    7. TO MAKE THE SAUCE
    8. Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
    9. When hot, toss in the cinnamon stick, star anise, green cardamoms and the bay leaves.
    10. After about 30 seconds, through in the sliced onions and let them fry for about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally so that they get soft and translucent but not browned.
    11. After 15 minutes or so, sprinkle a little salt over the top. This will help release some of the liquid from the onions.
    12. Now add the grated carrot, garlic puree, ginger puree, the chopped tomatoes, paprika and turmeric.
    13. Let simmer for about three minutes.
    14. At this stage you have a decision to make. You can either leave the sauce as is or take the whole spices out and blend it to a smooth sauce. I'll leave that one to you.
    15. To finish, place your cooked chicken pieces in the sauce and add the cream.
    16. Bring this up to heat and then add the chilled butter one tablespoon at a time.
    17. Serve immediately with fresh naans and/or white rice.

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    Spices ready for Jennifer's chicken makhani recipe

    Ready to use those spices

Keivan

Sunday 28th of February 2021

Hi Dan, How do I make this using your base sauce recipe? Can you tell me approximate ml of base sauce to use for this recipe that you said yields 6-8 and what parts to omit? Thanks, Keivan

Dan Toombs

Monday 1st of March 2021

There is not really an exact measurement for the base sauce. Just add enough to make your curry your desired consistency. Thanks Dan

Pi

Thursday 27th of August 2020

Great recipe! For making the chicken in the oven, do they need to be on skewers? Or can the be in a lined pan with a rack to lift the chicken up off the pan? I'm using chicken thighs and planning to oven roast and then cut them into 1" cubes before placing in the sauce.

Thank you in advance for the advice.

Dan Toombs

Friday 28th of August 2020

Hi No need to put the chicken on skewers, a rack in the oven is fine. Kind regards Dan

Bill

Friday 15th of February 2019

This may be a silly question, but I assume you can use your base curry sauce in place of the sauce for this and add butter and cream. I just made a huge pot of the base sauce and would like to use it :)

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 26th of February 2019

Hi Bill

That's not a silly question at all. The answer is yes! Just omit the part about frying the onions. Follow the recipe exactly and add base sauce instead of the water.

Thanks, Dan

Shiona

Tuesday 4th of April 2017

Hi there,

I do not have cardamom pods or cinnamon sticks but I have them in ground form, can I use that instead and if so what would the quantities be?

Dan Toombs

Thursday 13th of April 2017

Hi Shiona

You could. I would suggest adding them to taste during cooking. Add a little at a time until you like the flavour.

Thanks, Dan

Adam

Sunday 21st of February 2016

Love your recipes. I'm going to make your daughters recipe for my fiance as she doesnt like a lot of spice. Do you have an android app?

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 24th of February 2016

Hi Adam

Thanks for stopping by. I love that recipe and hope you and your fiance do too. No Android app yet but hope to do one soon.

Thanks Dan

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