Fakin’ It Butter Chicken

dsc_1108RECIPE #280, DAY #480


ORIGINAL RECIPE: “The Better Butter Chicken,” from Janet and Greta Podleski’s Eat, Shrink, and Be Merry*

TIMING: 20 minutes, plus time to cook your rice or chapati


TOOLS: A deep, wide skillet

COOK TYPE: Stovetop

HEALTH: This is a great entree for a week night. Lean protein, vegetables, and an antioxidant and vitamin-rich sauce. Also, it is a slimmed down version of the original butter chicken, but you’ll never miss it, it’s so full-flavored.

EXPERIENCE: This is a family favorite. I refer to dishes like it as “pan lickers,” meaning that I could literally lick the pan afterward, I just can’t get enough. Okay, so I have licked the pan after this dish (and after African Chickpea Stew, which now that I mention it, I would like to make soon so I can post the recipe).

I suppose it does taste some like Butter Chicken and has a distinctive Indian flavor, but it also has an Americanized (or Canadianized) feel to it. I don’t think it matters much, however, as this is amazingly good. If you are skittish about Indian food, this might be a great place to start.

NOTES: My daughter does not like chicken, so I have made this before with pork, instead. Still tastes wonderful, but I would prefer the chicken.

As you can see, I threw some peas into this batch. That works, as would diced carrot, potato, sweet potato, or other Indian-friendly veggies.


  1. In a wide, deep skillet over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter or ghee. Add 1 pound evenly chopped chicken breast or thigh and brown until just cooked through. Remove chicken to a platter and save.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and melt 1 more tablespoon butter or ghee. Add 1 cup minced onion and saute until translucent. Add 1 clove pressed garlic and stir for 30 seconds.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon minced ginger root, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon. Work into the onion, then add 15 ounces diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Stir, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add meat back in and stir in 1/3 cup cream and 1/4 cup plain yogurt. Simmer for another 5 minutes, tasting for seasonings.
  5. Top with a few tablespoons chopped cilantro and serve with chapati, naan, or buttered Basmati rice.


Serve with chapati, naan, and/or buttered Basmati rice, a chutney, pickle, and raita. A mango lassi would be a great accompaniment.

*Recipe changed from the original.


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