Old Delhi-style butter chicken in a pan and served on a plate

Old Delhi-style butter chicken

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(24 ratings)

Prep: 50 mins Cook: 1 hr plus 1 hr marinating


Serves 6

Head to your spice rack to make this butter chicken curry, a dish that symbolises Indian food for millions of people all over the world

Nutrition and extra info

  • Freezable

Nutrition: Per serving

  • kcal472
  • fat34g
  • saturates17g
  • carbs11g
  • sugars10g
  • fibre3g
  • protein29g
  • salt2.6g
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  • 800g boneless and skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces



    While it's the traditional Christmas bird, turkey is good to eat all year round, though…

  • coriander leaves, finely sliced red onion, sliced green or red chilli, naan bread or basmati rice, and chutney, to serve

For the marinade

  • 120g Greek yogurt
  • thumb-sized piece ginger, grated



    Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It…

  • 4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced



    Oval in shape with a pronouced bulge on one end, lemons are one of the most versatile…

  • 3 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin



    An aromatic spice native to eastern Mediteranean countries and Upper Egypt. This warm,…

  • ½ tsp garam masala
    Garam masala

    Garam masala

    gar-am mah-sarl-ah

    Meaning 'warming spice mix', garam masala is the main spice blend used in North Indian…

  • ½ tsp turmeric



    Turmeric is a fragrant, bright golden-yellow root that is most commonly seen and used dried and…

For the sauce

  • 1kg ripe vine or plum tomatoes



    A member of the nightshade family (along with aubergines, peppers and chillies), tomatoes are in…

  • thumb-sized piece ginger, peeled, half grated and half finely chopped



    Mainly grown in Jamaica, Africa, India, China and Australia, ginger is the root of the plant. It…

  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 4 green cardamom pods
  • 2 cloves



    A clove is the dry, unopened flower bud of the tropical myrtle tree family used to flavour a…

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 tsp chilli powder
  • 80g butter, diced



    Butter is a dairy product made from separating whole milk or cream into fat and…

  • 2 green chillies, cut lengthways
  • 75ml single cream, plus a drizzle to serve
  • 5-6 dried fenugreek leaves, crushed between your fingers (optional)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
    Garam masala

    Garam masala

    gar-am mah-sarl-ah

    Meaning 'warming spice mix', garam masala is the main spice blend used in North Indian…

  • 1 tbsp sugar



    Honey and syrups made from concentrated fruit juice were the earliest known sweeteners. Today,…

For the spiced butter (optional)

  • 3 tbsp ghee (see below) or butter
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 dried whole Kashmiri chilli
  • 6-8 dried curry leaves


  1. Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a large mixing bowl with 1½ tsp salt. Add the chicken pieces and mix together until well-coated, then cover the bowl and chill for 1 hr or overnight in the fridge.

  2. Heat the oven to 240C/220C fan/gas 9. Transfer the chicken pieces to a large baking tray (discard any remaining marinade), and cook for 10-15 mins. Turn the pieces after 10 mins so they colour evenly on both sides. The chicken doesn’t need to be completely cooked through at this point as it will cook for a few more mins in the sauce.

  3. Meanwhile, for the sauce, slice the tomatoes in half and put in a large pan in a single layer with 125ml water, the grated ginger, garlic, cardamom, cloves and bay leaf. Simmer, covered, until the tomatoes have completely disintegrated, about 20-25 mins. Remove the whole spices and blend the tomato mixture with a stick blender, then pass it through a sieve to make a smooth purée. Return to a clean pan, add the chilli powder and simmer for 12-15 mins. It should slowly begin to thicken. When the sauce turns glossy, add the chicken pieces and any of the reserved roasting juices from the tray. 

  4. Slowly stir in the butter, a couple of pieces at a time, and simmer for 6-8 mins until the chicken is cooked through. Add the chopped ginger, green chillies and cream, then simmer for a min or two longer, taking care that the sauce doesn’t split. Stir in 1 tsp salt, fenugreek leaves, if using, and the garam masala, then check the seasoning, adjust if necessary, then add the sugar. In a separate pan, warm all the ingredients for the spiced butter, if using, until the seeds start to pop (see below). Spoon over the curry, scatter with the coriander, onion, chilli, and a drizzle more cream, if using. Serve with naan, pilau rice and chutney.

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Comments, questions and tips

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14th Mar, 2020
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14th Mar, 2020
The best chicken curry Revipe ever, it’s delicious. It takes time to make but it’s so worth it. I didn’t bother with the spiced butter either.
6th Feb, 2020
Pretty delicious, and easy to make, although you have to take your time with it. Totally worth it though. I didn't make the spiced butter either, and the dish was absolutely fine without it. My new favourite 'go-to' recipe.
7th Oct, 2019
Absolutely delicious! My husband is allium intolerant and it's incredibly difficult to make curries without onion (it's pretty easy to avoid garlic but leaving out onion tends to ruin the curry). So when I saw that this wasn't meant to have onion in it I was determined to try it. I didn't bother with the spiced butter and the tomatoes took a little longer to cook down than suggested but otherwise we weren't disappointed. This is better than the butter chicken that I've had in some restaurants.
Saize's picture
24th Sep, 2019
It was bland for a lot of ingredients.
23rd Sep, 2019
Delightful. The whole family really enjoyed this even though the kids really like hot curries. Will definitely be doing this again
23rd Sep, 2019
Absolutely gorgeous. Didn’t use the fenugreek, or the sugar as when I tasted it I loved it and was worried it would end up sweet. Also didn’t do the spiced butter though might try that next time. Was told it was the best curry I had ever made and it was demolished in minutes.
16th Sep, 2019
This is absolutely delicious and very easy to make. Didn't have any Greek yogurt to hand but some left over sour cream and it served it's purpose. I also used passata so don't know if it drastically altered the taste but my husband said it as the best curry I have made and I've made quite a few over the years. Beats a take away. Will be making again soon.
11th Sep, 2019
This was sooooo good! Completely forgot to add the chopped ginger in the final stages but the curry was still the tastiest I've ever made! Took me a fair bit longer than the recipe stated but it was entirely demolished in 15 minutes! This is absolutely being saved into my 'impress guests' repertoire.
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