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Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)

Tandoori Chicken Cooked in Creamy Tomato-Butter Sauce


3-4 lbs chicken thighs (skinless but bone-in)

Marinade Mixture:
1 1/2 cups Greek yoghurt
3 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric powder
3 tbsp lime juice
5 tbsp vegetable oil

For Baking:
3 tbsp vegetable oil

Butter Chicken Gravy:
8 plum (roma) tomatoes
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
12 pods of green cardamom
12 cloves
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1 bulb of garlic (minced)
2 tbsp fresh ginger (minced)
1 green chilli (minced)
8 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 1/2 cups of canned of tomato puree (about half of a 29 oz can)
2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
1 tsp garam masala
2 tbsp honey
1/4 cup minced cilantro leaves
2/3 cup heavy cream

3 tbsp heavy cream
handful of cilantro leaves

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Marinating Chicken:

In a non-reactive bowl like glass or stainless steel, add in 1 1/2 cups of Greek yoghurt, 3 tbsp of ginger garlic paste, 1 tbsp of garam masala, 1 tbsp of cumin powder, 1 tbsp of coriander powder, 1/2 tsp of red chili powder, 2 tsp of salt, 1 tsp of turmeric powder, 3 tbsp of lime juice, and 5 tbsp vegetable oil. Mix this together till everything is well combined.

Take 3 to 4 lbs. of skinless bone-in chicken pieces (we prefer thighs), and cut deep gashes (about 3 gashes) on each side of the chicken. Place the chicken piece in the marinade, and massage the marinade into the gashes, as well as all over the chicken.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let the chicken marinate in the fridge for a minimum of 6 hours to overnight.

Grilling Chicken:

Cover a baking pan with foil (to prevent burnt pieces from sticking to the pan), and place a wire rack on top of this foil-covered pan. Brush the metal rack with 1 tbsp of vegetable oil (to make cleanup easier), and arrange the chicken pieces on the wire rack, and let them come to room temperature, about 1 to 2 hours at room temperature.

When you're ready to cook the chicken, put the oven rack in the middle position, and preheat the oven to 475 F (245 C) for 15 to 20 minutes.

Using a brush, baste the top of the chicken pieces with about 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Then bake in the preheated oven at 475 F (245 C) for 20 minutes.

Take the chicken out of the oven, turn the chicken pieces over. Again, brush the top of the chicken pieces with an additional 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Return to the oven and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, or until the thickest part of the thighs reach an internal temperature of 165 F (75 C) or above. Let the chicken pieces rest.

Butter Chicken Gravy:

Take 8 medium-sized plum/Roma tomatoes, roughly chop them into cubes, then puree them in a blender till a smooth mixture is formed.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, and add in the pureed tomatoes. Rinse your blender with 1 cup of water, and add this to the saucepan as well. Add in 1 cinnamon stick, 12 pods of green cardamom, 12 cloves, 2 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp of red chili powder. Stir these in, and let this mixture come to a simmer. When it starts simmering, continue cooking uncovered for about 20 minutes for the flavors from the spices to infuse into the liquid and for the liquid to boil down a bit.

Add in 1 bulb of minced garlic, 2 tbsp of fresh minced ginger, and 1 green chili minced. Stir these in, and continue cooking uncovered for another 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, take a heat-proof bowl and a sieve, and strain this tomato spice mixture into the bowl to remove the large spices. Press the mixture to maximize the amount of liquid and flavor extracted. You can discard the spices and chunky pieces. Keep the spiced tomato mixture.

In a large pot over medium-high heat, add in 8 tbsp of unsalted butter (1 stick) and let it melt. When the butter has melted, add in 2 tsp of ginger garlic paste and sauté for 1 minute.

Add in the strained spiced tomato mixture, 1 1/2 cups of ready-made tomato puree (about half of a 29 oz can), 2 tsp of dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi), 1 tsp of garam masala, and 2 tbsp of honey. Mix all of this together till well combined, let the mixture come to a simmer, and let it cook uncovered for 10 minutes to thicken.

Add in 1/4 cup of minced cilantro leaves, stir them in, and add in the chicken pieces and mix them in until the chicken is well coated in gravy. Turn down the heat to medium-low, and cook for an additional 5 minutes for the chicken to heat through.

Add in 2/3 cup of heavy cream, and mix it in. Cook for an additional 2 minutes to heat through. Then turn off the heat.

I like to add in an additional 3 tbsp of heavy cream that I don't mix in, creating a few light swirls as a garnish before serving. And garnish with additional cilantro leaves as desired. Serve with basmati rice or whatever bread you like. Enjoy!


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