Indian Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani)
Indian Butter Chicken (Chicken Makhani) is a take-out favorite for good reason. Tender pieces of chicken float in a silky smooth, butter curry sauce flavored with onions, garlic, garam masala, chili powder, ginger, turmeric and paprika. This slow-cooker version means there’s no need to swing by your local take-out restaurant on the way home. A delicious home-cooked meal is already waiting for you.
In the Denver suburb where my family and I live, we have a limited number of take-out options. Mostly, on those nights when no one wants to cook and we don’t want to go out, we order a pizza because, well… as I just mentioned, there aren’t many other options. So, we were super excited when an Indian food restaurant went in just 5 minutes from our house.
The first time I ordered from the new restaurant, we were especially impressed with the Chicken Makhani (Butter Chicken). On subsequent orders, we sampled many of their other dishes, and all of them were pretty good. But, the Butter Chicken was our favorite.
Unfortunately, the last couple of times we’ve ordered from our local Indian restaurant, we’ve been unimpressed. The quality seems to be going downhill fast. I think they’re struggling to establish enough business and cutting corners to survive. This, as we know, is a losing strategy because those of us who were devoted customers are finding alternatives. Like making Butter Chicken at home.
Take-out without the take out.
Making Chicken Makhani at home is simple, especially in a slow cooker, and crazy good. BUT, there are still those nights when all I want to do is order take-out. So, over the past few weeks, I’ve been creating a take-out menu in my freezer.
The idea is simple enough. Deliberately make extra of dishes that freeze well and reheat with ease. This is one of those dishes. It takes about the same amount of time to reheat a container of frozen Butter Chicken as it does to order and pick-up take out.
With this thought in mind, I’ve written this recipe to make quite a bit of chicken. Pack the leftovers into a container and pop it in the freezer for those nights when you want good food that you don’t have to cook. Indian rice also freezes well, so I’ve written that recipe to make a large batch as well. If you don’t want to freeze leftover Chicken Makhani and Indian Rice, just cut the recipes in half.
Can you even eat Indian food without Naan?
Probably. But, why would you want to? These days, most supermarkets cary Naan, which also freezes well, making it easy to keep some on hand. But, if you have the time and inclination, homemade Naan is one of the easiest types of homemade bread you can make.
If homemade naan is not on your agenda this week, pick up a package at your local market. Wrap it in foil and warm it in the oven. Then, stir some chopped parsley into melted butter and brush over the naan.
If you’re making this as a part of Summer Meal Plan #1, cook 6 pounds of chicken and double the amount of the sauce. You’ll use the leftover chicken in Chicken Salad with Mango Dressing and the leftover sauce in Shrimp, Rice, and Shiitake Mushroom Soup later this week.
Used in this recipe:
Weekly Meal Plans that include Indian Butter Chicken:Print
- 4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 4 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1 tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
- 3 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (depending on how spicy you want your chicken)
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground black pepper
- 3 cups (22oz) tomato sauce
- 2 cups heavy cream
- Heat butter and oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- While the onion cooks, add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, curry powder, chili powder, turmeric, paprika, sugar, cayenne, salt, and pepper to a small bowl. Add to the pan with the onion and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the tomato sauce, turn the heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down to medium-low and let simmer for 5 minutes to let the flavors blend. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Taste for seasoning. (*NOTE: The sauce can be prepared ahead of time. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before proceeding with the recipe.)
- Add the chunks of chicken to a slow cooker and pour the sauce over the top. Cover with the lid and let cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours.
- Use a slotted spoon to remove chicken from the slow cooker onto a large plate or serving dish.
- Pour the sauce into a large saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and let boil for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce has thickened. Pour the sauce over the chicken and serve with Indian Rice.
Use leftover chicken to make: Chicken Salad with Mango Dressing
Use leftover butter chicken sauce to make: Shrimp, Rice, and Shiitake Mushroom Soup5