I’m currently hoooked on The Final Table, the latest food programme to take over Netflix. Starring several of my food heroes, including Kiwi Monique Fiso from Hiakai in Wellington, one of the episodes asks some of the world’s top chefs to create their take on this classic Indian dish, Murgh Makhani, known to us as Butter Chicken. It reminded me just how delicious the aromatic flavours of Indian cuisine could be, and had it not been almost midnight when I was watching it, I may well have headed straight into the kitchen to make my own!

While the versions of this recipe are numerous, this one from Ashia Ismail-Singer’s book My Indian Kitchen is delicious – and you don’t need to be a world-class chef to make it work!

Butter chicken

My version of everyone’s favourite Indian curry. There is a version of butter chicken in India called Murgh Makhani, which is a Moghul dish. My recipe is a simpler version of this dish, full of flavour
but nothing like the butter chicken you would have in Indian restaurants.

Ready in 60 minutes. Serves 4–6


For the marinade:

  • 1 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tbsp oil
  • 3–4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • small piece grated fresh ginger
  • juice of half a lemon
  • pinch of saffron (optional)
  • 800g chicken breast, diced

For the curry:

  • 75g butter
  • 2–3 whole cardamom pods
  • piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2–3 whole cloves
  • 2–3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • small piece grated fresh ginger
  • 1–2 green chillies, chopped (optional)
  • 4 large tomatoes, puréed
    (or a 400g can)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ½–3/4 cup cream
  • fresh chopped coriander


Mix all the ingredients of the marinade together and rub over the chicken pieces. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour but preferably overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 200°C. Spread the marinated chicken out on an oven tray and bake for 25–30 minutes.

To make the curry, melt butter and add the whole spices, garlic, ginger and green chillies and stir. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, and cover and cook on a low heat for 10–15 minutes.

Add salt, garam masala and honey and stir in well. Place the chicken and marinade into the mixture, adding a little more boiling water to keep it moist. Cover and cook for 10 minutes.

Lastly, add cream and chopped coriander, and serve with plain rice and homemade roti.

Recipe extracted from My Indian Kitchen: Delicious recipes for New Zealand cooks, Potton & Burton, RRP $49.99.


Images © Manja Wachsmuth Photography