Chicken Makhni (Butter Chicken)

Chicken in a rich tomato-and-cream gravy


Adapted from How To Cook Indian by Sanjeev Kapoor

Butter chicken is a popular Punjabi dish, and one that characterizes the essence of the region's cooking. The greatness of the dish, also called chicken makhni, comes from the immersion of roasted chicken in a curry that is as smooth as butter. The velvety texture, and the mingling of the sour and the sweet and the spices, is what gives the dish its name.

KosherEye has adapted this famous Indian dish to use nondairy ingredients. This is a spicy dish and the "heat" can be adapted to suit your tastes.


14 ounces boneless chicken cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 teaspoon red chile powder
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the marinade:
1/2 cup nondairy yogurt
2 teaspoons fresh ginger paste*
2 teaspoons fresh garlic paste**
1/2 teaspoon red chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

For roasting:
2 tablespoons unsalted nondairy margarine, melted

For the sauce:
1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves***
2 tablespoons unsalted nondairy margarine
4 cardamom pods
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon red chile powder
5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1/2 inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
12 medium tomatoes, roughly chipped
1 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon honey
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon nondairy heavy cream substitute such as coconut milk or MimicCreme.


Prick the chicken pieces all over with a fork. Put them in a large bowl and add the chile powder, lemon juice, and salt, and stir well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Make the Marinade: Put the nondairy yogurt in a large bowl. Add the ginger paste, garlic paste, chile powder, garam masala, salt, and oil, and stir well with a wooden spoon.

Add the chicken to the above marinade and stir well to coat. Cove the bowl with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to marinate for 3 to 4 hours.

Roast the chicken: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Soak wooden skewers in water. Thread the chicken pieces onto the wooden skewers, arrange them on a baking sheet, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until almost cooked through. Baste the chicken pieces with the melted margarine and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove the chicken from the skewers onto a plate and set aside.

Make the sauce: Place a small nonstick sauté pan over medium heat. Add the dried fenugreek leaves and toss for 2 minutes to make it crisp. Transfer to a bowl and let it cool, then crush it with your hand to a powder. Set aside.

Place a nonstick saucepan over low heat and add 1 tablespoon of the margarine. When it melts, add the cardamom and mace, and cook until fragrant.

Stir the chili powder and 1 tablespoon water together to make a smooth paste. Add it to the pan and stir. Add the garlic, ginger, and tomatoes, and stir well. Cook for 20 minutes or until the tomatoes become pulpy.

Pour the mixture through a strainer into a bowl. Transfer the solid to a food processor and process until smooth. Strain into the bowl and discard any remaining solids in the strainer.

Place another nonstick saucepan over low heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon margarine. When it is melted, add the strained mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

Add the dried crushed fenugreek leaves and cook for 5 minutes. Add the salt, honey, and cream substitute, and stir well. Cool for 2 minutes. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 3 minutes.

Serve hot.


Yield: Serves 4

*Ginger Paste: 7 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped. Put the giner in a food processor. Add 3 tablespoons water and process to a smooth paste. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Make 6 tablespoons.

**Garlic Paste: 25 cloves garlic, peeled: Place garlic in a food processor and add 1/2 cup water; process to a smooth paste. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Make 6 tablespoons.

*** you can substitute a pinch of ground fenugreek seeds for a similar flavor.

Recipes: Poultry, Chicken, Indian Style, Curry,  Kosher

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