Butter Chicken with Cilantro

Buttered Chicken Cilantro

In 2009, Mark taught a class in India, and so we added a few days of vacation. We visited our friends Ed and Greta in Hyderabad and then flew on to Bangalore (Bengaluru) for the remainder of the week. Our love of flavorful, spicy food made every day a culinary adventure. Years later, to our surprise, we discovered a fantastic butter chicken at Essex, a restaurant just a few blocks from our condo in Charlotte. After countless orders, we finally decided to try making it at home. If you love Indian food, you have to give this a try.

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • 1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 ounces white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ¼ ounce fresh ginger, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
Add all to a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth (1-2 minutes). Add to a slow cooker with a capacity of at least 3-quarts. Alternatively, add to a 3-quart Dutch oven and preheat the oven to 250°F “Convection” (verify with an oven thermometer) with a rack in the lowest position.

Tip: With onion on its side, cut off and discard stem and root. Cut in half from pole to pole; discard dry or tough layers. Place cut sides down and slice parallel to the equator to ½ inch, holding the pieces together as you work. Cut across slices to chop. After separating a garlic clove from the head, cut off the root end. Place the broad side of a chef’s knife on top; strike hard with your fist or palm to crush. Release skin and discard. Peel ginger with a potato peeler, measure off ¼ ounce. Cut across the grain into ¼-inch slices.

Placing wet ingredients close to the blades helps pull in the onion, garlic, and ginger. Slicing ginger across the grain prevents long fibers in the sauce. Ovens often run hot or cold or preheat slowly. Holding slices together reduces exposure to eye-irritants.
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cubed
Add to the yogurt mixture; fold in to coat evenly. Cover with a tight-fitting lid; slow cook 3-4 hours. Slow cooking makes thighs melt-in-your-mouth tender, whereas breast meat tends to get dry and mealy.
  • 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
Stir in just before serving. Cream acts as an emulsifier. It thickens the sauce and also rounds out the flavor.
  • 2 tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro
  • Na’an
Sprinkle cilantro attractively over each serving. Add a piece of na’an for dipping in the sauce. Fresh cilantro adds an earthy freshness to the dish.