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 …

  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.

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