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Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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July 03, 2010

Butter Chicken in a Silky Sauce

By Worker Bee
135 Comments

Alison Mollenhauer was right on when she named the recipe she submitted for the Primal Blueprint Reader-Created Cookbook Contest “Butter Chicken” instead of simply “Chicken Curry”. Yes, the recipe has spices like garam marsala, cumin and cardamom. Yes, the air in your kitchen will be heavy with the enticing aroma of curry. But it’s the silky, rich, lick-the-back-of-your-spoon texture that really stands out in this dish. The credit goes to a generous amount of butter and the addition of cream or coconut milk, mellowing the spices and turning this fairly simple dish into something luxurious. The moist, tender meat of chicken thighs can take some credit too, as the chicken practically melts in your mouth with each bite.

For this recipe, Alison uses a marinating technique that makes the chicken as tender and flavorful as possible and you can too if you “do” dairy. Marinating meat in Greek-style yogurt (or other acidic dairy products like buttermilk) breaks down the enzymes in meat and tenderizes the protein. A yogurt marinade is especially great with meat that leans towards dry or tough, like chicken breast or lamb. In the case of chicken thighs the marinade adds additional flavor and tenderness, but since dark meat tends to be tender anyway those of you who don’t love dairy can skip the yogurt and still end up with a really tasty meal.

As the sauce bubbles on your stove, lean in and inhale. Even with all the spices milling around you might be able to detect the distinct aroma of the cardamom pods. Although cardamom is part of the ginger family, it will probably remind you of cinnamon or nutmeg, as they share the same sweet-spicy aroma. Inside each pod are dozens of little seeds that will flavor the dish; the pods will pretty much dissolve as they cook so there is no need to remove them at the end. (If you buy ground cardamom seeds instead of the pods, use it sparingly in this recipe. A little goes a long way.)

Alison’s recipe feeds her family of five with leftovers remaining, and we can’t think of a good reason to cut the recipe in half even if you’re not feeding that many. Butter Chicken is the perfect dish to make in large quantities and eat over the course of several days. The flavors will just keep getting richer and that buttery, creamy texture even more irresistible.

Ingredients:


  • 4 pounds chicken thighs, chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 3 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 3/4 cup Greek-style (thick) yogurt
  • 7 tablespoons butter, chopped1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 6 cardamom pods (crush pods slightly to release seeds and more flavor)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 1/2 cup cream or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh coriander, coarsely chopped

Instructions:

Combine chicken, garlic, spices and yogurt in a covered container. Refrigerate for an hour or two.

Melt butter in a deep pan. Add vinegar, tomato paste, tomatoes, cardamom and cinnamon. Boil rapidly, stirring until sauce is thick (approximately 20 minutes).

Reduce heat to a simmer and add chicken. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally until chicken is cooked through. Add cream or coconut milk, simmer a few minutes more, and garnish with chopped cilantro.


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135 Comments on "Butter Chicken in a Silky Sauce"

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Melle
Melle
6 years 2 months ago

Oh, heaven.

Samantha Moore
Samantha Moore
6 years 2 months ago

My my.

Rick
6 years 2 months ago

looks and sounds absolutely delicious!

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[…] Original post by Mark Sisson […]

Elle
Elle
6 years 2 months ago

Shan spice packets will get to the same place without the cost…gotta go to an Indian market to get ’em though. Use the “tandoori” chicken mix for this recipe.

Ami
Ami
8 months 10 days ago

Tandoori chicken is NOT the same as butter chicken, they are 2 totally different combinations of masala/spices.

You should really consult someone educated about Indian cooking before spreading erroneous information about something you clearly don’t know about!

Resurgent
Resurgent
6 years 2 months ago
If anyone has traveled through India – one would have noticed ‘Butter Chicken’ is THE National dish in Northern India. No menu of any local eatery, big or small, is complete without Butter chicken. Alison recipe is great, here is a slight variation as learned from a star rated Indian chef.. After marinating the chicken as directed, grill it in an oven or on a gas/charcoal grill. Puree the tomatoes and cook them till all the liquids evaporate – now add the grilled chicken and butter, simmer for a while – finish by adding cream or coconut milk. – pureed… Read more »
Primitive
Primitive
6 years 2 months ago

My Indian friend told me that butter chicken started as making a meal out of leftovers and because of that it’s still looked down at in many parts of India; however, in West, it’s synonymous with Indian food!

Resurgent
Resurgent
6 years 2 months ago

Elle – check Shan spice packets ‘ingredients list’ before you buy. They used to contain loads of MSG – lately I have noticed they do not mention MSG but do mention sodium content upwards of a thousand mg per tsp. Best to mix your own spices as Mark has done from virgin material.

Ami
Ami
8 months 10 days ago

Yeah that too!

Not to mention that the tandoori spice packet Elle recommended will NOT come out tasting like butter chicken!

She clearly knows little to nothing about India or Indian food — the equivalent of those who think chop suey and fortune cookies are actual Chinese food!

Sharmiila
Sharmiila
8 months 12 hours ago

What is wrong with you? Your negativity is irritating. We get it, you’ve had butter chicken before. You’re still a dick.

Joyful Abode
6 years 2 months ago

yummmmmmm

Gigi
Gigi
6 years 2 months ago

Do you know if it freezes well? This may be a great dish to make on the weekend, then use later in the week. I’m making this week. Yummm.

Dave
Dave
4 years 5 months ago

This will never get a chance to be frozen!

Tuck
Tuck
6 years 2 months ago

Wow, that looks so delicious I can’t believe it. I better go eat something, I must be hungry!

Sassy Paleoman
Sassy Paleoman
6 years 2 months ago

I will be eating this…. soon.

Mike Cheliak
6 years 2 months ago

I love Indian food and this recipe looks AMAZING! Very well done indeed!

brooki
6 years 2 months ago

This will be part of my meal plan for next week.

Scott
Scott
6 years 2 months ago

I second that. This recipe looks absolutely amazing.

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[…] Butter Chicken in a Silky Sauce | Mark's Daily Apple […]

slacker
slacker
6 years 2 months ago

YUM! That goes in the keeper file.

peggy
peggy
6 years 2 months ago

my oh my… Last night I cooked thighs, trying to make up my own recipe to submit, then I see this the next morning. This is one I will print & file for use over & over…

Chaohinon
6 years 2 months ago

I’m afraid to try butter chicken with a coconut milk base. Can anyone attest to it being good?

Smiley
Smiley
5 years 6 months ago

I can attest it’s delicious with Coconut milk….I would use 1/2 the amount at first if you want to try it out and decide whether or not you like it. My husband prefers the tomato base w/out the coconut milk though. Depends on what you’re in the mood for. I found that the coconut milk tone’s down the heat a little.

Chandra
Chandra
6 years 2 months ago

Oh my gosh Chaohinon, coconut milk base is AWESOME in butter chicken. I think it really tempers the spices, so it still has a spicy kick but a smooth creamyness to it also. I don’t know if that makes sense but trust me, it’s AMAZING!

Diana
Diana
6 years 2 months ago

I’ve been eating Paleo for about 3 months now, and I have always been told no yogurt or butter, as they are dairy based. Help me out here.

JoJo
6 years 2 months ago

@ Diana, this is a Primal recipe…”primal” vs “paleo” allows delicious saturated fats such as butter. Read http://www.marksdailyapple.com/whats-the-difference-between-primal-and-paleo/

I am cooking this tomorrow night. My mouth is watering just reading the recipe!!!

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6 years 2 months ago

[…] Butter Chicken in a Silky Sauce – Mark’s Daily Apple This entry was posted in WOD and tagged Air Squat, Burpee, Lunge, Push Up, Run, Sit Up. Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL. « 07/03/10 – Saturday Team WOD […]

Carla
Carla
6 years 2 months ago

Oh wow, guess what I will be eating for dinner!

Mia
6 years 2 months ago

I am so making this next weekend.

Primal Toad
6 years 2 months ago

Heaven. I love the long list of spices. I am learning how to mix spices as time goes on but I am not quite there. I will have to make this soon!

Ernie O'Malley
Ernie O'Malley
6 years 2 months ago

Funny that you published this recipe yesterday, cause I was looking for a recipe with chicken and found that recipe directly on the main site.
Cooked it yesterday. Had all of the ingredients at home. Never happens when I look up recipes 😀
Was good and rich as I like it, but not as good as I thought it would be. Wonder if anybody has some improvements on this recipe. 😉

Kelly A
Kelly A
6 years 20 days ago

I’ve taken several indian cooking classes, and I’d add a teaspoon of ginger paste and a half a small onion, diced small and saute the onion in the butter until it almost dissolves. Also, a touch more salt if you want it authentic. 🙂 The reason some butter chicken is so red is that they add a few drops of food coloring (no thank you!)

Amethyst42
Amethyst42
3 years 5 months ago

I wish I had read this before. It was good, but needed more flavour. Onion, ginger, pepper and salt would have done it. My spices were super-fresh, but I’d definitely add more next time.

Brian Kozmo
Brian Kozmo
5 years 10 months ago

just make sure you have all the spices and that they all are of good quality

Helen
Helen
3 years 9 months ago
Hi, Can you recommend some really good places, online preferably, to buy excellent, fresh, and top quality spices? Herbs too, if you know of any? I’m just starting to teach myself to cook and want to know as much about spices, where they come from, all the variety’s, and where the best places are to get them. I’m deaf and there are no cooking or culinary schools where I live, so I am pretty much on my own when it comes to cooking. So any help at all, tips, info, recommendations, etc., would be greatly, greatly appreciated. Anyone reading this,… Read more »
Alycia
Alycia
3 years 7 months ago
Scott S
6 years 2 months ago

My wife made this last night and it was excellent. Looking forward to the leftovers.

Carla
Carla
6 years 2 months ago

Compliments to the creator of this recipe! It was absolutely yummy!

I too look forward to tomorrow’s left overs!

Davida
6 years 2 months ago

I made this last night and it was fantastic. My 11yo son took one bite and murmured “Oh my god” and my daughter piped in “yeah, mom, this is amazing” WIN! Also, it was mild enough spice-wise that my 19mo baby ate it (and ate it and ate it) with no problems.

Rebekah
Rebekah
6 years 2 months ago

Did anyone have trouble finding the cardamon pods?

Gerard
Gerard
6 years 2 months ago

I found them at an Asian supermarket (along with every possible spice under the sun, I love walking around there 🙂 )

Julie
6 years 2 months ago

Just made this today — nummy!!

Clarence
Clarence
6 years 2 months ago

I just tried this recipe tonight. A couple of things needs to be noted:

If you have trouble with finding cardamon pods (or cardamon for that matter), use nutmeg.

For those who like spicy foods you may want to add a little salt AND some cayenne pepper or hot sauce.

After I put the chicken in the butter sauce as instructed the water in the chicken made the sauce “soupy”. I had to add a little stock to make it thick again. After I did that, the family loved it.

Gigi
Gigi
6 years 2 months ago

I made it for dinner too. Mine turned out the same way, soupy. But was able to thicken it up. I added chili pepper flakes to my dish and it needed salt too. Everyone liked it. Yea!

Chris
Chris
6 years 2 months ago

Look very good. Thanks. I would a bit of turmeric though.

Liz
Liz
6 years 1 month ago

Interestingly, turmeric isn’t really necessary in this dish since it helps with digesting legumes. Plus, many garam masala blends include tumeric.

GymX
GymX
6 years 2 months ago

I made this for dinner yesterday. It was great. I skipped the tomatoes added a head of cauliflower cut up into the mix and it was fantastic.

Tinamint
Tinamint
6 years 2 months ago

I made this last night. I ate it over cauliflower, boyfriend ate it over rice. It was DELICIOUS. The only thing I would change for next time is adding lots of veggies to it while it is cooking. Mine was also soupy so the veggies would thicken it up. Plus, I am partial to one dish meals (rather than an entree + veggie side dish).

Julie
6 years 2 months ago

What veggies would you add? I thought the same things (a bit soupy, which would be great if you wanted to stretch it out and make a sort of soup with it, also a love of the meat+veggie meals).

I’d add maybe more tomatoes (well-drained), okra, maybe some cauliflower?

Thoughts? This recipe is absolutely the yummiest thing. It’s now a staple in our house.

Andrew
Andrew
6 years 2 months ago
Mine came out very soupy also. I’m thinking there may be a difference between everyone’s version of “large” tomatos. Also, my butter seems to be separating from the sauce. It did taste good, I think the enhancements of veggies, a bit of salt, and more cayenne would be perfect. I’m going to add more chicken and spices tonight and continue cooking it down. I found all the spices at Natural Grocers (Vitamin Cottage). Also, the last line, freshly chopped coriander, is cilantro, just for those of us who don’t know they are the same thing… : )
Gigi
Gigi
6 years 2 months ago

You know the recipe called for only 1TBSP of vinegar. I think if you added 1-2 more tablespoons it would be tangier. I thought it was missing something – I think it was that. Plus it needs more heat like cayenne pepper.

Spinner
Spinner
6 years 2 months ago

I am going to be picking up the ingredients for this recipe this week! I am going to add additional veg, and I was thinking, eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini and probably cauliflower.

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[…] mystiska lapp resulterade i en fantastiskt smakrik kycklinggryta, butter chicken in silky sauce. Till den gjorde jag nygräddade naan-bröd med vitlökssmör. Fantastiskt gott! Jag vet inte hur […]

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6 years 2 months ago

[…] Silky Butter Chicken Sauce at Mark’s daily Apple. What a lovely primal dish. I love butter chicken, so go there for a decent version to try out. […]

Andrew
6 years 2 months ago
I stumbled upon Mark’s MDA a few weeks ago and have just started reading up. I like a lot of what he says (preaches) but unfortunately coming from the Paleo lifestyle I’m not sure exactly how this dish made it into the wild. Granted, it’s delicious (my wife and I made it this evening), but even so I’m not quite sure we can ever eat it again. I (mainly for fun, partially to keep myself honest) use about.com’s calorie counter (http://caloriecount.about.com) and for kicks inputed in our slightly varied (read: healthier) version of this recipe, much to our dismay. Screenshot… Read more »
Brian Kozmo
Brian Kozmo
5 years 10 months ago
Oh please, nobody does calorie counting here! And “one serving has 50% of your daily values”.. Dude, who’s guidelines are you following anyways? Can you even trust these governmental guidelines? There are plenty of examples of various groups (esp. tribal groups) eating most of their calories from fat and they’re completely healthy. The people on this website are in love with fat. Your body needs it for proper functioning as well as energy. EAT the butter, EAT the skin, EAT the cholesterol (which your body needs!). I’d recommend a bit more research on this site as well as affiliated or… Read more »
Andrew
6 years 2 months ago

Formatting error on that screen shot, looks like the last parenthesis was included for some reason…

Mia
6 years 2 months ago

Made it with a side of masala veggies and cauliflower instead of rice. Pretty damn good! I think I went a little heavy on the tomatoes, oops 🙂 Still, I’d give it a 8 on 10.

Angie
Angie
6 years 2 months ago

I’m making this right now!!!

Nicki
Nicki
6 years 2 months ago

My chicken is marinading right now! Butter chicken from the Indian takeaway is a favourite with the 2 men in my house so I am under some pressure to make it good lol. I already added turmeric partly to at least make it LOOK like the takeaway version lol and partly because, well turmeric is good for you. Anyway, thanks to everyone that’s left comments so far, it helps with my own preparation.
Here’s looking forward to a scrummy meal tonight. I’ll let you know what my “judges” think 😉

Sass
Sass
6 years 2 months ago

I’m new to PB lifestyle and cooking and was wondering how many servings this makes?
Also, who can tell me the grams/kgs of roughly how much protein i should have per meal..eg, chicken, beef, fish…i don’t think i am having enough..

trackback
6 years 2 months ago

[…] take on a regular chicken dish. I found it on Mark’s Daily Apple in the tune of his posted Butter Chicken in a Silky Sauce. It’s a classic Indian dish that incorporates yogurt marinated chicken and a thick, creamy […]

alimolly
alimolly
6 years 2 months ago
Thanks to Resurgent for the great tip to grill the chicken- I just tried that and it added a whole new dimension to the dish. I’m in butter chicken heaven! My top tip is to make sure that you reduce the sauce down until it’s nice and thick as this intensifies your flavours. (Your sauce will be a vibrant orange red colour.) It’s correct that the sauce will “split” or that the oil separates and that’s the beauty of Indian curries. Don’t substitute the cardamon- it’s got a gorgeous and very unique flavour- my concern with nutmeg is that is… Read more »
Gina E
Gina E
6 years 1 month ago

You guys had me going — I was really confused by the recipe calling for “1/2 cup of fresh coriander, coarsely chopped”. I was wondering where I was going to find a coriander plant. Thank goodness you post photos of the ingredients so I saw it was supposed to be cilantro 🙂

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[…] and of course, recipes. I won’t recreate it here since you can go to his site and see the recipe for yourself. The only changes I made was instead of the fresh chopped tomatoes I used a 28 oz […]

wedward
wedward
6 years 1 month ago

This was a big hit for us! We added sliced red pepper and a touch of Cajun salt. The meat was very tender – thanks for the recipe!

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