Butter Chicken (& Garam Masala)

Recipe by Chef Erin Henry

Serves 6

Serves 4-6

  • 2 cups plain yogurt
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 6 Tbsp butter, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp Garam Masala (homemade is best!)
  • 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups pureed canned tomatoes
  • 1 ½ cups whipping cream
  • Salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, mix together the yogurt and salt. Add the chicken thighs and mix well to coat with the yogurt. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Using 2 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove the chicken from the yogurt and pat it dry with paper towel. Brown the pieces of the chicken so each side is lightly browned- they do not need to be fully cooked all the way through. Work in batches, and set aside when you’re done.

Melt another 2 Tbsp of butter in the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until beginning to soften — about three minutes. Add the garlic, garam masala, ginger, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Stir to combine, and cook for about one minute before adding the tomato sauce.

Bring the mixture to a simmer and let cook for five minutes before adding the cream. Bring the mixture back to a simmer and let simmer gently for 15-20  minutes. Keep the heat low- not a rolling boil. After the 20 minutes are over, use an immersion blender to puree the sauce.

Bring the sauce back to a boil and then add the browned chicken. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Stir in the remaining butter and enjoy right away!


Garam Masala:

Makes ½ cup

  • 2 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp cardamom seeds
  • 1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp whole cloves
  • 2 dried red chili peppers (seeds discarded)
  • 2 Tbsp ground turmeric


Combine all the spices in a medium skillet over low heat. Toast the spices, stirring often, until fragrant (about 2-3 minutes).

Grind the spices in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle until the mixture is a fine powder.

Let the mixture cool completely, then transfer to a sealed container and store for up to 1 month.


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