Tandoori Butter Chicken

  • Servings : 4
  • Prep Time : 25:000 h
  • Cook Time : 45m
  • Ready In : 25:45 h

To make butter chicken, one must first make tandoori chicken, and then stir it into a sauce. I’ve included both recipes here, along with my adjustments to make the best butter chicken ever. – Lyta


  • 1 pkg boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 2lbs?)
  • 3 tbsp tandoori paste or tandoori powder
  • 3 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 1/4 c thick yoghurt
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp each of coriander powder, garam masala, cumin powder
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 Large yellow onion, pureed. (Or chopped as finely as you can.)
  • Canola Oil (or any oil, really)
  • Butter (salted, unsalted doesn't matter)
  • Tomato Paste (I use about 12 oz)
  • Heavy Cream
  • Milk
  • Salt
  • Spices like Cumin, Coriander, Cayenne Pepper, Garam Masala (all optional)


Step 1

Tandoori Chicken: Prick the chicken legs at several places with a fork or with the tip of a knife make gashes in the chicken. Then cut the chicken up into bite-sized pieces. Err on the side of larger pieces. Rub the tandoori paste and the ginger garlic paste on the chicken and allow the chicken to marinate, covered in a bowl, in the fridge for 1 hr.

Step 2

Stir the remaining ingredients into the yoghurt. Add the yoghurt mixture to the chicken and mix well, till a uniform coloured marinade is reached. Let the chicken marinate, covered in the fridge preferably for 24 hrs or at least for 10 hrs.

Step 3

Preheat the broiler at a low temperature 250-300. Line a cookie sheet (one with raised edges!) with aluminum foil, and spread the chicken onto it in an even layer. Broil until cooked. I look for the juices running clear, and some browning on the outer edges of the chicken. Sometimes I cheat and broil at a high heat for the last few minutes to get said browning. So, now you have the tandoori chicken ready to go. Time to prepare the sauce.

Step 4

Butter Chicken: Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large pot, and add the onions. Fry for about 2 minutes (medium-high heat, and by all means, don't wait the full 2 minutes if your onions are starting to burn.) Add the spices if you're using them. I use about a half tsp of each, nothing exact. Fry another minute. Turn the heat lower if you think the onions may burn.

Step 5

Stir in about 3tbsp butter. Add the tomato paste and stir. Now, add the cream until the resulting mix looks like a dark salmonish color. If this mix is too thick to form a good sauce, add some milk to thin it. Turn the heat to low.

Step 6

Salt to taste. Throw in a huge dollop of butter. Once it melts and has been all stirred in, add the tandoori chicken.

(Note: There is NO neat way to do it. The best way I’ve found is to pick up the chicken from the baking sheet in my hands and add it to the sauce. This lets me add the maximum possible chicken+marinade and leave the clear juices and fat behind. Of course, it’s horribly icky, so you may want to have the tap running to wash your hands in ASAP. This may just be my OCD talking, though.)

Take it off the heat, and enjoy with white basmati rice and/or naan. Torn cilantro leaves on top make a great garnish, as long as you enjoy cilantro, which not all of us do.

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