Indian Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhanwala)

  • Serves

    serves 4


Redolent of ginger and garam masala, this lively main course can be prepared a day in advance, which makes it a terrific dish for a party.


For the Chicken

  • 12 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 tsp. garam masala
  • 1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 (3") piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 (3–4-lb.) chicken, cut into 8 pieces, skin removed.

For the Sauce and Serving

  • 1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 green cardamom pods, cracked
  • 3 whole cloves, crushed
  • 1 (28-oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (3") piece ginger, washed and grated (skin on)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 13 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • 4 fresh or frozen curry leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Raita, for serving
  • Mango Chutney, for serving


Step 1

Marinate the chicken: Combine all marinade ingredients except for chicken in a food processor; purée. Transfer marinade to a large bowl and add chicken, tossing to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Step 2

Heat oven to 500°. Transfer chicken to an aluminum foil—lined baking sheet and spoon any marinade from bowl over chicken. Bake chicken until light brown but not cooked through, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a rack; set aside.

Step 3

Make the sauce: In a 6-qt. pot over medium-high heat, combine chile flakes, garlic, cardamom, cloves, tomatoes, ginger, bay leaf, and ⅔ cup water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring often and crushing tomatoes with a spoon, for 25 minutes. Discard bay leaf and transfer sauce to a food processor; purée. Return sauce to pot and continue cooking over medium-low heat until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Add reserved chicken pieces and any marinade from pan, along with ⅓ cup water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in cream, butter, garam masala, and curry leaves. Reduce heat to low and cook until flavors meld, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Step 4

To serve, transfer chicken and sauce to a serving platter and serve with the Raita and Mango Chutney.

Pairing note:** With its earth-meets-berry freshness, Jean-Maurice Raffault Chinon Rose ($17) complements this dish's rich, cool flavors.

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