Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chicken Makhani

Butter Chicken - aka - Chicken Makhani is the BF's favorite dish.  It works really well as a stew-like dish.  Since we don't eat grains, this is one of the few Indian dishes that translates well into a low-carb meal.  I shred up the chicken after it has cooked up so that it has a bit less liquid/curry.

I like to buy a whole chicken and cut off the meat.  This gives me the bones to use for making stocks and it is very economical.  I freeze the bones, wing, skin - whatever I haven't used for the curry in a ziplock bag.  Then, when I have collected enough chicken bones - we have a chicken stock making day.  A nice weekend event. :)  Last go, we ended up with 24 cups of chicken stock for the freezer.

Chicken Makhani

  • 2/3 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder (cayenne)  - or less as it is quite spicy
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 4 green cardamon pods
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 lb skinless, boneless chicken, cut up in chunks
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 4 tablespoons cream (optional)
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
In a large bowl, mix almonds, yogurt, chili powder, ground spices, garam masala, ginger and garlic. Add tomatoes and salt, to bowl and mix. Add chicken, mix well and set aside

On medium heat, melt butter in a large pot (a stock pot works well). Add onions and cool slowly until browned, about 10 - 15 min, stirring frequently. Add chicken mixture and cool until chicken is done, stirring occasionally.

Once its all cooked up, if you had placed any bones, pull them out. Take two forks and shred the chicken if you wish. Add the cilantro, mix well.

If there is still a little too much liquid, cook on low heat until you have the desired thickness. Once it's at the consistency you want, add the cream if you wish.  This gives it a richer taste.

  1. Yogurt: The best yogurts for this are thick, either Greek style or full cream like Brown Cow (which I prefer for Indian food).   
  2. Ground spices:  I tend to grind all the ground items together in a coffee grinder and then dump it into the curry, which makes all the spices uniform. 
  3. Chicken: If you are cutting up a whole chicken for this dish, save off the wings or the leg bones and cook them in the curry, pulling them out before serving. 
This dish went over really well with the family last weekend and if you are having a lot of people it is a pretty frugal meal for a large crowd.  And, if you make rice for your carb eating guests - there is even more chicken for you!


  1. Do you start with whole cloves, bay leaves, and some cinnamon stick, and grind those? I bet this would be good with rabbit.

  2. I start out with whole spices as they store better and taste fresher once I am ready to use them.

    I think it would be lovely with rabbit.

    I know my mum has a really good Indian rabbit recipe. If you want I can get that and post it up.

  3. Oh! and since you have access to garam masala, you can just buy it in the shop. Or, I can post up a recipe for it.

    It is basically a blend of spices and the North Indian version and the South Indian version seem different. Also, each family seems to vary it - from what I've found when I've asked my friends who actually make their garam masala. So, there is heaps of room to make it to taste. :)