Project Description

Manjula’s Butter Chicken

Manjula is a treasure. She was our cook when we lived in India, and taught me so much about life, myself, and how terrible a cook I was. She can make anything, and make it look easy! She made Murg Makhani several times of the years we were there and I loved it. But, she came to stay with us a few years ago and made this new and improved recipe and I almost died. It was seriously an out of body experience. I haven’t had really good butter chicken since we left India, until this. And just to prove how great she is, a few days before she had to leave, she made a huge batch of this and put it in the freezer for me. Like I said… an absolute treasure!

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Manjula's Butter chicken aka Murg Makhani

Authentic Indian Butter Chicken adjusted for an American kitchen
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Marinate8 hrs
Total Time8 hrs 45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: butter chicken, murg makhani
Author: Manjula Ramaraj



  • 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts or thighs
  • red food color (few drops)
  • 1 tsp tandoori chicken masala spice mix
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste*
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste**
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp pepper


  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, diced finely
  • ½ cup cashews
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp ginger paste**
  • ½ cup cream
  • 6 tomatoes, diced finely
  • 2 tbsp kasoori methi, (fenugreek leaves)
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri chili powder (can substitue cayenne)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp garam masala



  • Mix all the ingredients together in a gallon sized zipper bag. Leave in fridge overnight.


  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • In a large pan over medium heat, fry chicken until both sides are browned. Remove chicken to a baking sheet and place in oven for 10 minutes. Remove and cut chicken into small pieces.
  • In the same pan over medium heat, add oil. When hot, add onions and cook until soft. Add ginger, garlic, tomatoes, Kashmiri chili powder, garam masala and 1 cup water. Cook for 10 minutes. Let it cool.
  • Put sauce in blender to make a paste (or use an immersion blender). Add butter to the pan and return the paste. Simmer on low and add the kasoori methi and sugar.
  • Return the chicken to the pan and simmer for 5 minutes more.
  • Remove from fire and stir in cream. Can garnish with chopped fresh cilantro.
  • Serve with rice and naan or chapatis.


*Garlic Paste – In a blender, add several cloves of peeled fresh garlic and a few tablespoons of water. Blend until paste forms.
**Ginger Paste – In a blender, add several inches of peeled fresh ginger and a few tablespoons of water. Blend until paste forms.