Who doesn’t love butter chicken? It’s easier to make than you might think. This recipe is also low in fat. Yes, butter chicken that’s low-fat! It’s also ridiculously delicious. This may be my favourite savoury recipe.
I used to only have butter chicken in restaurants, but now that I know how easy it is to make at home, I make it quite often. The butter chicken served in restaurants tends to be really high in calories because there’s loads of butter and cream in it. Most of the flavour in butter chicken comes from the spices. You don’t need all of that fat to develop good flavour. This recipe uses only two tablespoons of butter. That’s right, only two. You could add a little more if you want to. I won’t tell.
I have included vegan and dairy-free substitutions. I prefer the cashew recipe variation, but all of them are really tasty.
If you want to make your own fresh naan to go with the butter chicken, but you don’t have a tandoor oven like me, just make your favourite pizza dough, portion the dough into 3 inch balls. Roll them out fairly thin. Then cook them on the stove top in a non-stick frying pan with a very small amount of oil on medium heat. The dough will puff up just like naan. If you want my pizza dough recipe, you can find it here.
If you’re on a low-carb diet, cauliflower rice would go really well with the butter chicken.
Quick and easy healthy butter chicken recipe.
- 2 tsp Garam Masala
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 tbsp olive oil, or vegetable oil
- 2 Chicken breasts, or 1 1/2 cups tempeh or cauliflower
- 1 red onion
- 3 garlic cloves, cut in half
- 1 tbsp fresh minced ginger, or 1/2 tsp dry ground ginger
- 2 cups chicken stock, or vegetable stock
- 2 bay leafs
- 3 cups crushed tomatoes, (large can, approx. 28 oz)
- 2 tbsp butter, or vegan butter, or olive oil
- 1/2 cup cream or 1/2 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt (vegan cashew cream variation in notes)
If you have time, you can marinate the chicken overnight with a cup of yogurt, some sliced onions, garlic, ginger and a pinch of cumin. (I usually skip this step).
Combine all the dry spices and set aside.
Cut the chicken breasts (or vegan substitute) into half inch cubes.
Add 3 tablespoons of oil to a large pan (that comes with a with a lid). Add the chicken to the pan. Cook the chicken on low heat until it's golden brown on all sides.
Sprinkle approximately one third of the dry spice mixture on the chicken and stir until it's well coated. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
Add one more tablespoon of oil to the pan. Lightly sauté the onions on low heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the onions with a third of the dry spice mixture. Add the garlic and ginger. Stir everything together.
Add the chicken stock and the bay leafs to the pan and stir. (Add the soaked cashews to the pan now if you're making the dairy-free variation).
Add the crushed tomatoes to the pan. Add the remainder of the dry spice mixture. Put the lid on the pan and allow the flavours to meld together for about 15 minutes on low heat. Stir occasionally.
Turn the burner off and allow the sauce to cool down a little. Remove the bay leafs. Pour the sauce into a blender and blend until smooth.
Put the blended sauce back into the pan. Turn the burner to low heat. Add the cream and butter (or vegan butter, or olive oil) to the pan and stir. Add the browned chicken back to the pan and stir.
Put the lid on the pan and allow everything to simmer on low heat for about 20 minutes. That should be enough time for the chicken to finish cooking and for all the flavours to come together. Taste for salt. Add more if necessary.
Serve the butter chicken with rice, naan or cauliflower rice. Garnish with some red onion slices and some fresh cilantro.
- To make the non-dairy recipe variation, bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil. Add 1/2 cup raw cashews. Allow the cashews to soak for 15 minutes. Remove the cashews with a slotted spoon. Rinse with fresh water. Add the cashews to the butter chicken sauce.
- If you're watching your calories, you can reduce the amount of cream/cashews and butter by half. It will still taste great.
- If you find that the sauce is too thick, just add some more water.