Butter chicken was always a family favorite growing up. We didn’t go out to eat very much and certainly not to Indian restaurants very frequently, but when we did, I remember everyone devouring the creamy butter chicken like we hadn’t eaten for days and always ordering more naan to scrap every last drop of the sauce out of the bowl.
Given its unearthly deliciousness of my childhood memories, I was surprised to find that making butter chicken myself was surprisingly easy and tasted just as divine.
It Reheats Excellently!
This also reheats in the microwave at work surprisingly well. The fat in the cream sauce really holds in the flavors and prevents separation when prepping in advance.
Tip to Make it Faster and Tastier
Dice chicken into relatively small chunks. This not only makes it easier and much faster to cook but also lets the dish reheat in the microwave more evenly and more surface area of the chicken bits mean more flavor of the marinade and sauce infuses into the chicken. My chicken bites were about 3/4 inch chunks.
The butter chicken dish itself is low in carbs and can be made considerably high in protein by using more chicken with less sauce. The bright flavors of the chicken marinade and the richness of the sauce make this no less tasty at different proportions of chicken-to-sauce.
You’re probably going to want at least some rice or naan or even sliced bread to sop up the delicious sauce but you can add in as many carbs as you like this way. The recipe calls for less tomato product than most other recipes to cut down on carbs but probably could be cut down even more if you’d like less.
On the Garam Masala:
I could not find Garam Masala at my grocery store so I made my own using this lovely recipe. I omitted the black pepper since I am not a fan and particularly sensitive to it but I’m sure if you like black pepper it would be just as delicious. This recipe made perfectly enough for two iterations of this meal prep.
For a super easy option, it’s widely available on Amazon (but can be hard to find at some grocery stores). Here are some of my favorite spice brands that sell it:
This is a Keeper
After making this recipe and refining it a couple times, I made sure to add this to my google drive recipe folder of the greatest because this is one I know I want to make again and again (and again!) Seriously. It’s that good.
Meal Prep Tools I Use and Love
1. Meal Prep Containers (PBA-free with microwave-safe lids!) | 2. 8 oz Mason Jars (perfect to bring along toppings like cheese, nuts, herbs, etc.) | 3. Sauce Bottles (just the right size and easy to clean) | 4. Mixing Bowl Set (the vertical sides make spills a thing of the past) | 5. Food Processor (worth investing the money – SO many uses and built to last) | 6. Dutch Oven (versatile, durable, and beautiful color)
High Protein Butter Chicken
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 ½ tsp ground coriander
- 1 ½ tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
Chicken & Marinade
- 2 lbs chicken (diced)
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 1 ½ tbsp minced garlic
- 1 tbsp minced ginger (or fined grated)
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
For the Sauce:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter (or ghee if available)
- 1 large onion, sliced or chopped
- 1 ½ tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp ginger, minced or finely grated
- 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 8 oz tomato puree
- 1 ¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- chopped cilantro
Marinate the Chicken
- Mix all Garam Masala ingredients if not using premade mix.
- Dice chicken. Combine chicken & all marinade ingredients in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight (the longer the better).
When Ready to Cook
- Heat oil in a large skillet or pot over medium-high heat. When sizzling, add chicken pieces in batches of two or three, making sure not to crowd the pan. Fry until browned for only 3 minutes on each side. Set aside and keep warm. (You will finish cooking the chicken in the sauce.)
- Heat butter or ghee in the same pan. Fry the onions until they start to sweat (about 6 minutes) while scraping up any browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pan.
- Add garlic and ginger and sauté for 1 minute until fragrant, then add ground coriander, cumin and garam masala. Let cook for about 20 seconds until fragrant, while stirring occasionally.
- Add tomato puree and salt. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally until sauce thickens and becomes a deep brown red colour.
- Stir the cream into the sauce. Add the chicken with juices back into the pan and cook for an additional 8-10 minutes until chicken is cooked through and the sauce is thick and bubbling.
- Garnish with chopped cilantro and divide into 4 servings – serve with brown rice, basmati rice, naan, or bread.