Rik’s Butter Chicken

12 Sep


A few weeks ago I headed to my friends’ for a dinner party. Jess and Rik are both big foodies, which is always a good sign when someone is cooking for you.

They’d knocked up (read: lovingly prepared) a huge butter chicken for us and it was, hand on heart, the best curry I’ve ever eaten. I genuinely got a bit teary thinking about it the next day, and it wasn’t even the hangover.

Rik has very, very kindly sent me the recipe so I can cook it and ruin it and you lot can cook it and enjoy it. So I’ll hand you over to the master…

(Wait wait don’t leave me just yet! If you’re funny about using chicken thighs, which I am, don’t be. I honestly thought I was eating breast and am now converted. Okay, back to Rik 🙄)

RIK’S BUTTER CHICKEN

This is what Indian people order at Indian restaurants in India. So basically, this is THE curry.

Two parts to this. The chicken and the curry are cooked separately and brought together at the very end.

1. Marinate the chicken

Chicken- I used 4 thighs and 4 drumsticks. You could use boneless thigh fillets but On the bone is MUCH better. If you use breast, we can’t be friends.

  • Greek yoghurt – 3/4 Tbsp or enough to coat all the chicken.
  • Red chilli powder -1tsp
  • Garam masala- 2 tsp
  • Ginger and garlic paste – 1tsp of each
  • Generous pinch of salt and pepper.

Score the skin if using on the bone. Throw all of the marinade ingredients over the chicken and mix thoroughly. Now leave it for a good few hours. Ideally overnight in the fridge. When ready, cook at 180 for 40-45 minutes in the oven or till the skin is crispy and charred in places. This is essentially a basic chicken tikka. Stop here and call it a starter if you want!

2. The curry

  • Good quality salted butter- loads!
  • 1 red onion chopped finely
  • 1 can of chopped toms
  • Red chilli powder -1tsp (optional)
  • Garam masala- 2 tsp
  • Dried & crushed fenugreek leaves – 3 heaped Tbsp
  • Sugar – 1.5 Tbsp
  • Big clove of garlic, chopped
  • Handful of cashew nuts, crushed
  • Half a cup of water
  • Double cream – 2 tbsp
  • Generous pinch of salt

In a big pan or casserole dish fry the onions in butter till they start going translucent. Add the chilli powder, Garam masala, garlic and cashew nuts and cook out the spices. Should take 4/5 mins.


Add the toms, water, sugar and salt and cook for another 10 minutes till it’s nice and mushy and then take off the heat. Blend this mixture and then pass through a sieve back into the pan. <— this is very important.

3. Bring it together

Reheat the tomato sauce on a low heat. Add a large knob of butter (at least 50 grams) and let it melt and emulsify into the curry. Add the cream and the fenugreek at this point. Add a bit more butter if it’s not a shiny orange colour*. Introduce the chicken to the curry at this stage. Fold through and taste. Take off the heat and garnish with fresh coriander and a drizzle of cream.

SERVE IMMEDIATELY. Butter Naan and plain rice are best friends with this dish.

*taste at this point and if it tastes like tomato soup it means you didn’t put enough sugar in. You can add more but it may not melt through evenly so I would add some honey. It also means you need more fenugreek leaves. A tbsp of honey and a tbsp of fenugreek should rescue the situation. Oh and throw more butter in as well.

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