One of my favorite recipes from my new cookbook, and a staple menu item in many Indian restaurants in the U.S., butter chicken was supposedly created when a restaurateur in India combined leftover chicken with a tomato sauce enriched with butter and cream. Traditionally, the chicken for this dish is marinated in yogurt, lemon, and spices and then cooked in a clay oven called a tandoor. To save time and make the dish home cook-friendly, I sauté unmarinated, seasoned chicken in a skillet and then briefly simmer it in a creamy, spice-infused tomato sauce. This results in ultra-tender chicken. In fact, one of my recipe testers remarked that this must be called “butter chicken” because the chicken is so tender, it’s like “buttah!”
What You’ll Need To Make Butter Chicken with Mango Chutney
In a medium bowl, sprinkle the chicken pieces evenly with 3/4 teaspoon of the salt and 1 teaspoon of the garam masala; toss to coat evenly.
Add the flour.
Toss again, making sure the chicken is well coated.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and the oil over medium-high heat. When the fat is hot and shimmering, add the chicken in a single layer and cook, without stirring, until the chicken is lightly golden on the underside, about 3 minutes.
Using tongs, turn the chicken pieces over and cook until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes more. Using the tongs, transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside while you make the sauce (you’ll use the skillet in the next step—there’s no need to wash it).
Melt the remaining tablespoon butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne (if using), and remaining teaspoon of garam masala; stir and cook 1 minute more.
Add the tomato sauce, cream, sugar, pepper, water, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
Add the chicken along with any accumulated juices, to the sauce.
Simmer a few minutes, until the chicken is warmed through.
Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Sprinkle with the cilantro, if using.
Serve with basmati rice and mango chutney.