Butter Chicken (sort of)

For years I’ve scoffed whenever someone described meat with the term “melt-in-your-mouth”. It’s meat, people. It’s tough and resistant and you have to tear it apart with your teeth like a predator. That’s even part of the appeal!

This chicken? It melts in your mouth. Like butter. It just dissolves, like popcorn in a glass of milk.  A yogurt marinade followed by a long, slow simmer apparently causes some sort of chemical witchery (that’s a technical term, folks) to occur. It is completely amazing.

Now, all that said, butter chicken is apparently supposed to have tomatoes in it. Even the few recipes I found without tomatoes had almonds, which I have no objection to but don’t usually keep in the house.  To call this recipe a departure from the norm is therefore perhaps too charitable.

I don’t care. It’s one of the best new things I’ve made in years.

This recipe is adapted from the Bollywood Cookbook, which is generally just a charming read, for recipes and otherwise.

Ingredients (serves ~2)

For the marinade:

1 1/4 cups Greek yogurt

1 T garam masala

1-2 t chile flakes

1-2 t ginger

2 t salt (I used a chipotle-lime salt, because why not?)

1/2 to 1 lb chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces

For cooking:

2 cups chicken broth

garlic, to taste

juice of 1 lime

3 T turmeric

1 T garam masala

2 T butter

4 T cream or yogurt


Combine the marinade ingredients (except the chicken) in a zip-top bag and knead it  to mix.

Add the chicken to the bag.

Knead again to evenly coat the chicken. Marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

When ready to cook, melt 2 T of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Cast-iron is my preference, but not necessary.

Brown the butter. You don’t have to, but it’s oh so good.

Add the chicken, reserving the marinade for later.

Brown the chicken.

Sprinkle the chicken with the turmeric, lime juice, and garam masala.

Add the chicken broth and garlic. Once the mixture comes to a boil, turn the heat down to a bare simmer and let it cook, covered, for 30 minutes.

Add the reserved marinade and stir.

Add the remaining 2 T butter, allow it to melt, and stir again. Cook another 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with naan and saag paneer.

Words do not do this dish justice.


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  1. #1 by Lynda Kayes on April 20, 2012 - 6:20 AM

    looks easy and very interesting flavors, what do you think about over rice?? Making your key lime pie tomorrow for dinner (I mean dessert)

    • #2 by koshercorvid on April 20, 2012 - 4:41 PM

      I actually had it over rice during Passover, and it was fantastic! You definitely want some kind of starch to soak up the sauce. Also, have pie for dinner! Why not?

  2. #3 by faithbenitez on May 23, 2012 - 5:57 PM

    you had me at butter.

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