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Quick & Easy Gourmet: Chicken Makhani (Indian Butter Chicken)

By Andy Bennett
Published: April 1, 2009
Photo by John and Tanya Bäck
The original recipe calls for cubed chicken, but I shred it instead. The meat spreads through the entire sauce and thickens it, making it a perfect topper for rice and easily sopped up with a good flatbread, like naan or pita. I also skip the peas ... just because.

Serves 2-4.

What you Need:

Spice Blend

  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne


  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped (about
  • 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 can tomato sauce (15 ounces)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in juice (14
  • ½-ounces)
  • 1 skinless rotisserie chicken, boned out and cubed or shredded
  • 1 10-ounce box frozen peas, placed in a colander and thawed under hot water
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • Hot basmati rice, for serving.
  • Naan or pita bread, warmed according to package directions, for serving.

1. Stir the spice blend together in a small bowl and set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat.

3. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the pieces just begin to turn gold, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the chicken, garlic, tomato paste and spice blend, and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent burning. The spices will be fragrant.

5. Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes and stir well, bringing sauce to a simmer.

6. Turn the heat to low and cook, uncovered, until the chicken is warmed through and the sauce is flavorful, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently.

7. Shake any excess water from the peas. Add the peas and cream to the sauce in the pan, stir well and heat through. Do not boil.

8. Spoon the sauce over the chicken. Serve with rice and warm pita bread.

Andy confesses: “The original recipe came courtesy of I’ve tweaked and changed it to suit my tastes, and it always turns out great. In the kitchen, I live by a paraphrasing of a classic saying: ‘A good cook borrows, a great cook steals.’”
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