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Chicken Lababdar

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Chicken lababdar is a delicious, spicy alternative to butter chicken.

Finally I’ve found a creamy, butter chicken style curry recipe that is an all round hit at my house. Chicken lababdar is a northern Indian curry that is rich and so so good!

I have tried a few sweet chicken lababdar recipes that I didn’t care for much. This one, taught to me by my friend and chef Vipin VU is a winner. You can always add sugar or jaggery to the sauce if you want a sweeter flavour.

If you’re looking for a curry you can made in about 30 minutes with little fuss, chicken lababdar needs to be on your ‘must try’ list.

Chicken lababdar

Chicken lababdar… A bit spicy, creamy and rich. So good. Try this!

The origins of chicken lababdar…

It is believed that butter chicken came first and that chicken lababdar was the competitions’ answer.

If that is true, The competition won. Yes, I am going to go all out and say I much prefer chicken lababdar.

How to get perfect results…

It is important to use the best quality, freshest ingredients you can get your hands on.

If you prefer a creamy, smooth curry, be sure to removed the chicken from the pot and blend the sauce as suggested in my recipe.

That said, blending is not necessary. The flavour will still be amazing and if you aren’t all that fussed about smooth sauces, you’ll be very happy without the additional work.

Infusing whole spices in oil

Infuse the flavour of the whole spices into the oil.

Adding onion

Add the chopped onion to the oil and fry for about 5 – 7 minutes.

Adding garlic and ginger and chillie

Add the garlic and ginger paste along with the chopped chillies.

Stirring in ground spices.

Stir in the ground spices.

Add the chicken

Stir in the chicken pieces and brown them for a couple of minutes.

Add tomatoes

Add the tomato puree and water.

Cover the pan

Cover the pan and let simmer for 12 minutes.

Stir in the cashew chilli puree

Stir in the cashew and chilli puree.

Blend the sauce.

Remove the chicken and blend the sauce to make it extra cream.

Adding fenugreek, coriander and cream

Stir in the coriander, fenugreek and cream.

Returning chicken to pan

Return the chicken to the pan and stir in the butter.

Chicken lababdar

Dig in!

If you like this authentic Indian curry, you might like to try some of these too.

Railway lamb curry
7 Ingredient lamb curry
Cumin Chicken

Yield: 6

Chicken Lababdar

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes


  • 3 tbsp rapeseed (canola) oil
  • 3 green cardamom pods, smashed 2.5cm (1in) piece of cinnamon stick
  • 1 blade of mace
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 2 green chillies, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp garlic and ginger paste
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder, or more
  • to taste
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 11⁄2 tsp cumin
  • 250ml (1 cup) tomato purée
  • Sugar, to taste (optional) 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) whole skinless
  • chicken, cut into 8–10 pieces
  • 10 cashew nuts
  • 3 green bird’s eye chillies
  • 1⁄2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori
  • methi)
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped coriander
  • (cilantro)
  • 3 tbsp cream
  • 1 generous tbsp cold butter Salt, to taste


  1. Heat the oil over a medium–high heat in
    a large frying pan or wok. Add the cardamom pods, cinnamon and mace and allow these spices to infuse into the oil for about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the onion and salt and fry for about
8 minutes, or until the onion is golden brown.
  3. Stir in the green chillies and garlic and ginger paste and fry for about 45 seconds, stirring continuously.
  4. Add the turmeric, Kashmiri chilli powder, ground coriander and cumin and stir to combine before adding the tomato
    purée. Taste the sauce – if you like a sweeter sauce, add sugar to taste, but I rarely do as I find the tomatoes sweet enough.
  5. Add the chicken pieces and brown
    them for about 2 minutes, then add 250ml (1 cup) of water.
  6. Cover the pan and simmer for about 12 minutes, or until the chicken is just cooked through.
  7. Meanwhile, blend the cashew nuts and green bird’s eye chillies with 70ml (1⁄4 cup) of water into a smooth, thin paste. Pour the paste over the chicken while it’s cooking.
  8. After 12 minutes, remove the chicken and whole spices from the pan. Blend the sauce until smooth in a blender or using a hand-held blender.
  9. Pour this back into the pan and, over a medium heat, add the dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi) by rubbing it between your fingers into the sauce, as well as the coriander (cilantro) and cream.
  10. Return the chicken to the pan and simmer until cooked through and hot. Stir in the butter until it melts into the sauce. Season with salt and serve.

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I hope you enjoy this chicken lababdar curry. If you do try it, please leave a comment. I would love to hear from you.


Friday 12th of February 2021

Hi Dan, I have cooked your base sauce and made a Madras and Chasni and i would like to say thank you , they really do work.

The base sauce completely transforms these dishes into BIR. This is difinitely the cloeset to takeaway and your methods do work .

Thank you i am currently working through your red book and am so impressed - i am about to buy the new bible.

Thank you -

As i stated above regards the Hyderabadi - i am also trying to look for a chettinand recipe? I recently had a Chicken Chettinand in Kent

Dan Toombs

Tuesday 16th of February 2021

Thank you for your kind e-mail. I am really glad you are enjoying my recipes. Dan


Wednesday 27th of January 2021

Dan you dont by any chance have a Hyderabadi Chicken recipe? I had this for the first time in Aagrah Doncaster and it was outstanding. Not many curry houses in the South have this on their menu, i am missing this tbh. It has a different flavour to any curry i had prior? Thank you

Dan Toombs

Thursday 28th of January 2021

Hi I am sure I do somewhere, I will have a look and get back to you. Thanks Dan


Thursday 14th of January 2021

Thanks Dan. This was my first attempt at one of your recipes. Very nice thank you. However, my curry was nice, it was one dimentional in terms of flavour. The fresh corriander helped. But as you comment many times, its about building layers, this is what i am lacking? Any ideas please?

Dan Toombs

Friday 15th of January 2021

If you use freshly ground spices that would definitely help. I am not sure what brand of spices you were using so maybe try a different brand or grind your own from scratch as that makes a huge difference. Chicken Lababdar should definitely not be bland as that is one of my most popular curries that everyone seems to enjoy the most. Thanks Dan


Monday 30th of November 2020

Hi Dan, in the pictures above you add and fry the chicken before the tomatoes, which makes sense to me. However, as per instructions and your book, chicken follows the tomatoes.

Dan Toombs

Wednesday 2nd of December 2020

Hi Alex

Actually either work. I do it both ways. Just depends on how I'm cooking at the moment and how many cameras I need to work with while doing it. :-)

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