Authentic Recipe for Butter Chicken/Chicken Tikka Masala/Chicken Curry

In this video, I prepare chicken tikka masala or butter chicken that I enjoy making at home. A lot of traditional Indian home cooking involves stewing fresh spices over a long period of time, however, in this recipe, I’m making this curry with a quick and dirty restaurant-style recipe using most dry spice powders and herbs.

There really is no difference between butter chicken and chicken tikka masala, except for the use of butter in the recipe. Even then, some restaurants still use butter of ghee (clarified butter) in their tikka masala recipe. It all comes down to what is that particular restaurant’s specialty. Fun fact: the origins of chicken tikka masala are widely debated, and many believe that the dish has serendipitous English origins. Chicken tikka masala is also a true British national dish!

I measured everything using a heaping small spoon (a “coffee” spoon) and a big spoon (a regular dinner spoon).

Recommended Supplies

Chicken Marinade

  • Whole Milk Yogurt, about 1/3 of a 2lb. container
  • Garlic Powder, 1 big spoon
  • Curry Powder, 2 small spoons
  • Dry Fenugreek Leaves, 1 five-finger pinch
  • Coriander Powder, 1 small spoon
  • Red Chili Powder*, 1 small spoon
  • Garam Masala*, 1 small spoon
  • Cardamom Powder, 1 heaping small spoon
  • Black Pepper, 1 five-finger pinch
  • Sunflower Oil, about 2 or 3 big spoons
  • Red Food Coloring (optional), enough to turn it red

Marinade Instructions

Whisk together all of the above ingredients in a mixing bowl into a smooth homogenous mixture. Add about 1.5 lbs. of chicken thigh meat, and cover the chicken completely with the marinade. Allow chicken to marinate for at about 4 hours.

Curry Base (Sauce/Gravy)

  • Sunflower Oil, a few big spoons
  • Chopped Fresh Garlic, two big spoons (at least)
  • Chopped Large White Onion, about 2/3 of one onion
  • 28oz Can of Crushed Tomato
  • Fresh Ginger, about one inch, shredded
  • Curry Powder, 3 small spoons
  • Cardamom Powder, 1 big spoon
  • Coriander Powder, 1 big spoon
  • Red Chili Powder*, 1 small spoon
  • Garam Masala*, 1 small spoon
  • Butter, 3 tablespoons (optional)
  • Heavy Cream, add as preferred, a few big spoons at a time
  • Saffron (optional, but highly recommended), a few strands
  • Salt, to taste

Preheat your over to 550°F (~280 C). Add oil to a pan and heat to medium-high heat, add in the onions and start to cook the onions. Once the onions start to brown, add garlic and continue to cook. The garlic will quickly begin to brown, so be careful. Once the garlic is light brown, add the entire can of crushed tomatoes. Lower heat to a simmer and whisk in all the spices (except saffron). Once simmering for a few minutes, remove from heat, and begin preparing the chicken. This will allow the spices some time to infuse. Scrape excess marinade off of the chicken and place each piece on a cooling rack on a baking sheet at least an inch apart, and save the extra marinade in the bowl. Place the baking rack with chicken in the pre-heated oven. Watch the chicken carefully for the tips to slightly blacken. As soon as the tips blacken, remove the chicken from the oven (and don’t forget to turn your oven off). The chicken likely is not fully cooked, so I don’t recommend having a taste at this point (no matter how appetizing the smell). Remove the chicken from the rack, tear or cut into ~1-inch pieces and return the marinade bowl. Now, take all the chicken and extra marinade, add it to the curry base that’s been resting, and return the whole mixture to a simmer. Simmer until the chicken is fully cooked. Continue to simmer and add heavy cream a few spoons-worth at a time and mix in. Once you’ve added cream to your liking, plate, garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve with lemon slices.