Butter chicken with fragrant rice


School holidays are here and the wet and cold weather has set in – hello winter! This week’s recipe is for a dish that I make all the time at home, and what better way to warm up than with a delicious curry.

I have not always been a curry fan. I never enjoyed it as a child on the few occasions that it was offered to me, I suppose not many kids do! Even into my early twenties curry dishes were never on my favourites list. And then in 2006, newly-wed, I moved to London. My husband and I moved into a flat on a busy main road in East London and a few hundred metres from said flat was an unassuming Indian take-away shop. I am not sure what encouraged us to give it a try the first time but I remember getting completely hooked and spending many a freezing English evening devouring chicken tikka masala drowning in sauce or a tasty rogan josh along with piping hot, buttery naan bread. From then I was converted and a fan of the wonderful world of curries! I have been cooking my own ever since.
I consider this quite an easy curry to make. Now I know what you are thinking… probably something along the lines of: “er, excuse me but how can a recipe with such a long list of ingredients be easy?!” Well my friends, retrieving all of those spices from your pantry is probably the hardest bit. This is one of those recipes where you toss everything into the bowl and the pan and let the magic happen.

Cook’s notes: On days when I am feeling a bit more organised I try to prepare the chicken and marinade in the morning to be cooked that evening. It only takes a few minutes so is not too taxing. This step can also be done the night before. When it comes to the rice I do not always have time to soak it before cooking, so if you don’t manage to fit this step in do not worry! If you are watching your carbs you could serve the butter chicken with cauliflower rice instead of basmati, and if you are not then a lovely hot naan bread makes a delicious accompaniment!


For the chicken and marinade:

  • 700g chicken breast fillets, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • ½ cup thick plain yoghurt
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • good pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp sunflower oil for frying

For the sauce:

  • 50g butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 100g)
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 200ml tomato puree
  • 250ml double thick cream
  • 1 tsp sugar

For the rice:

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • water for soaking
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 large cinnamon stick
  • 4 cloves
  • fresh coriander to serve

1.) Dust the chicken chunks with flour and set aside.

2.) Combine the remaining marinade ingredients (except for the sunflower oil) and mix well. Add the chicken, toss to coat and leave to marinade for an hour or more.

3.) Heat the sunflower oil in a frying pan. Add the chicken with its marinade and fry until the chicken sealed. (The chicken does not need to be cooked through.) Set aside.

4.) For the sauce: melt the butter in a deep saucepan. Add the onion and cook gently to soften. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli powder, coriander, salt and cloves and cook for a further minute.

5.) Add the tomato puree, cream and sugar. Stir well, then add the chicken and allow to simmer for 15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Check the seasoning.

6.) Soak the rice in enough cold water to cover for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse. Place the rice, water, cinnamon and cloves in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Pop the lid on the saucepan, turn off the heat and leave to steam for 10 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks and cloves.

7.) Serve the butter chicken with rice and top with fresh coriander.


7 thoughts on “Butter chicken with fragrant rice

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.