Butter chicken for the strong hearted

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The recipe for Butter chicken is actually a dual recipe – one of the tandoori chicken and the other for the makhani gravy or the butter gravy – the mother of all north Indian –mughlai sauces.This was invented in motimahal by the founder Kundan lal Gujral .As goes the old saying necessity is the mother of all inventions – it was mere need to sell the chicken tikka , which went a little dry hanging by the side of hot tandoors that lead to the invention of this makhani gravy , so that the chicken could be sauted in this sauce to over come the poor tikka`s dry spell .

As goes the old riddle “ whether the egg came first or the chicken “ it is hard to tell but in the case of butter chicken and tandoori chicken , it is the tandoori chicken which hatched before the butter chicken .

So lets see how to cook the tandoori chicken first and transform it into the Butter chicken later.

Butter chicken


By Monish Gujral Published: September 23, 2010

  • Yield: 3-4 servings
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 35 mins
  • Ready In: 59 mins

First is the -recepie for the tandoori chicken (FROM MY BOOK MOTIMAHAL`S TANDOORI TRAIL). Then we make the makhni sauce alias butter gravy.



  1. Tandoori Chicken Process- Make two deep incisions each on breast and the drum sticks.
  2. For the first marinade- mix all the ingredients in a bowl and rub all over the chicken and keep aside for 1 hr.
  3. For the second marinade – mix all the ingredients in a bowl and rub on the chicken pieces and keep for at least 3 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven at 180 deg. Place the chicken on the grill rack , place the tray underneath to collect all the drippings. Grill for 8-10 minutes .
  5. Brush with oil , turn upside down and grill for 3-4 minutes till tender. Remove from the grill and keep aside.
  6. For the Makhni Sauce- Take a pan , put oil and heat it over fire. Put onion and sauté for few seconds.
  7. Put chopped tomatoes , bayleaf and salt in the pan and let it simmer , stirring occasionally till the oil sepearates from the sides.
  8. Strain the sauce. Pour in a pan and heat over fire. Add all the spices. Add in the Tandoori Chicken , stir for a 3-4 minutes.
  9. Add butter and stir till it melts in cream and remove quickly. Garnish with green chilies and coriander with a drip of cream.

First chef from India to be invited to Le cordon Bleu to demonstrate in Paris. Monish is credited with the trailblazing turn-around of Moti Mahal, from being a small but iconic presence in Delhi, to becoming a multi-national corporation that is well on its way to defining how the world eats Indian food. A traditionalist, Monish has remained true to the signature dishes that made Moti Mahal a legend, while reinventing the dining experience into one that is exciting and avant garde to suit modern sensibilities.


  1. Priyanka

    November 13, 2010 at 6:43 am


    • Monish Gujral

      June 12, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      Thanks, Priyanka

  2. jasbir

    February 27, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    Hi chef bit confused about ur makhni sauce do we puree the sauce and strain it or just strain it with channi.thanks

    • Monish Gujral

      June 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      You can use tomato puree if you dont want to strain.
      If you are using chopped tomato then you can strain the sauce. :)

  3. Elson Sequeira

    June 12, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    do we need to strain the sauce? there is a step missing i guess

    • Monish Gujral

      June 12, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      Elson, Yes you need to strain the sauce. Please read step no 8.

  4. vikram

    July 31, 2013 at 10:08 am

    Hi chef … just two questions about this recipe … how much puree should one use if not using fresh tomatoes … and when do we add the cream ? thanks …

    • Monish Gujral

      April 26, 2018 at 9:41 am

      Hi Vikram, you can use the same amount of fresh tomatoes and add the cream when the sauce is done simmering. :)

  5. basel Maksousa

    August 17, 2013 at 3:39 pm

    I am going to try that ,I think it is going to be very tasty
    I need recipe for mutton Korma and other mogul food BBQ

  6. Shabdita Singh

    November 7, 2013 at 11:05 pm

    Hi chef. This recipe seems pretty good and when backed by the legendary moti mahal name, it comes on my must try list. I have a question though. Can the same makhani sauce be used for pander butter masala? And a request for you to post some more vegetarian friendlt recipes too. Thanks!

    • Monish Gujral

      November 8, 2013 at 4:14 am

      Thanks Shabdita, and yeah you can use the sauce to make paneer butter masala. Stay in touch the next post will be vegetarian.

  7. desinl

    November 25, 2013 at 1:34 am

    i tried this recipe from the “trail of butter chicken” but it didn’t result in the thick gravy as i expected. Is some step missing? how do you go from chopped tomatoes to a thick gravy?

    • Monish Gujral

      November 25, 2013 at 6:50 am

      Please chop and simmer and then strain.

      • raju datla

        October 30, 2015 at 8:40 pm

        sir this recipe is different from which you have shared in the book “on the butter trail” why is that ?

  8. Arun

    August 10, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Hi Monish, thank you for sharing this. I’m a big Moti Mahal butter chicken fan.

    Just to know, instead of straining the tomato mix, can we just blitz it to a blend? Or would that alter the taste?

    • Monish Gujral

      August 10, 2014 at 3:00 pm

      Hi Arun, ya blending is also an option but be sure to pull the bay leaf out of the mix before blending. Enjoy cooking!

      • Arun

        August 11, 2014 at 11:58 am

        Ah ok, will definitely keep that in mind. And thank you for the really prompt reply.

  9. Nabila abid

    March 21, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Hi chef
    I want to buy your book (on the kebab trail) your other books I allready bought but this book I can not find on (Ebay) (amazons) and I checked other website.i live in USA .can you plz tell me how I can buy this book .

  10. Rajesh Bhargava

    April 1, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    It’s all in the garam masala. Could you elaborate the actual recipe of garam masala used at Moti Mahal. I think that little bit of difference always persists.

  11. jitendra singh

    April 22, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    Sir moti mahal butter chicken no 1 every time

  12. Nihar Desai

    August 21, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    I am an ardent fan of your recipes.i have both your books in my collection. I have tried Many recipes from your books but paneer kadai and dal makhani comes amazing.
    Recently i tried to make butter chicken but i am not getting the red colour of the gravy. When i add jeera powder and garam masala,gravy turns brown. How to slve this problem without adding any food colour.
    Many Thanks

  13. bipin singh

    January 26, 2016 at 12:01 am

    chef I want to know butter chic is boneless or with bone . what is actual..?

    • Monish Gujral

      February 10, 2016 at 11:25 am

      Hi Bipin,
      The original butter chicken is with bone.

  14. Anjana K

    November 12, 2017 at 8:19 am

    Hi Manish,

    I’ve been on the lookout for a really authentic Butter chicken recipe and it probably doesn’t get better than Moti Mahal legendary recipe.

    Just one question, the ingredients list cashew paste for the makhani gravy but the recipe steps do not mention when to add it. Can you please clarify?


    • Monish Gujral

      April 26, 2018 at 9:36 am

      You can add it once the tomato sauce is cooked.

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