from pin to post: indian butter chicken.

by Janetha on March 8, 2013

in recipes

i didn’t discover my love for indian food until i was in my early twenties. i remember my sister in law requested to go to bombay house for her birthday. i remember looking at the menu and feeling completely out of my element. i was used to mexican restaurants—that was my jam back in the day. i never really went for sushi or chinese and most definitely not indian! i was used to ordering off a menu that listed burritos, enchiladas, and nachos. at bombay house the menu listed foreign-to-me things like saag paneer and lamb vindaloo and samosas (which, of course, made me instantly think of girl scout samoas.)

luckily i was with people who knew their indian food, so i just let them order. we started with vegetable samosas which, i quickly learned, were just an indian equivalent to egg rolls. i also quickly learned that they were absolutely delicious.. especially when dipped in the mint and tamarind chutneys—move over, sweet and sour sauce!

we ended up ordering a few different entrees to share. i don’t recall exactly what we ordered, but i do know i ate two things for sure: chicken tikka masala and naan. my taste buds didn’t know what hit them when i first tried the tender chicken tikka masala. the combination of garlic and ginger in the creamy tomato sauce was nothing i had ever tasted before. the warm, doughy naan was the perfect accompaniment to soak up any sauce left behind. it was absolutely incredible!

and that, my friends, is when my love for indian food was born. specifically my love for chicken tikka masala. it even made the list of what i would eat day in and day out if calories didn’t exist (see that whole list here.)

fast forward a few years. thanks to my sister, i discovered trader joe’s masala simmer sauce. i didn’t have a trader joe’s in my area, but i made sure to bring a few jars of this stuff home from california any time i visited her.

marshall’s favorite indian dish also happens to be chicken tikka masala, so i have always wanted to try making our favorite dish from scratch. i did try one time in 2011 with a crock pot version i made up on a whim.. it was SO good and SO easy, but it still wasn’t spot on with the flavors.

the past couple years we have just been satisfying our tikka masala craving at restaurants. we go out for indian food often. some of our favorite places are a taste of india, himalayan kitchen, and royal india.

i have a coworker, sim, who is indian. she often talks about her mom’s amazing indian cooking. i told her that she MUST make me chicken tikka masala sometime. that’s when she clued me in on the fact that chicken tikka masala is also known as butter chicken. i had no idea! did you? anyway, she’s been promising me for years that her mom would make me and marshall some real, authentic butter chicken. (we are still waiting, get on that, sim! ;)

but, in the meantime, i still need my fix. i periodically see recipes for chicken tikka masala (or butter chicken) online, so i decided to give this one from pinterest a try the other night. and, much to mine and marshall’s delight, it was a HUGE hit!

From Pin to Post

you know it’s gotta be a good pin when i make it within two weeks of pinning it, right??

here’s the pin:


and here’s the post!

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indian butter chicken
slightly adapted from mel’s kitchen cafe
serves four


  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 TB fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/4 of a fresh jalapeño, seeded & minced
  • 2 TB minced garlic (i used jarred)
  • 1 TB garam masala
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp coriander
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 TB cornstarch dissolved in 2 TB water
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders cut into 3/4” pieces
  • 1 tsp salt + more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper + more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • cilantro for garnish


  1. heat oil in a deep 12” skillet over medium heat.
  2. add onion, ginger, and jalapeño to the skillet and sauté until the onions are translucent—about five minutes.
  3. add garlic, garam masala, cardamom, chili powder, and coriander and stir to combine. sauté for another two minutes.
  4. pour broth and tomato paste in a food processor or blender. add contents of skillet and blend until smooth.
  5. transfer mixture back to the skillet and add the almond milk and cornstarch. bring to a simmer.
  6. add the chicken, salt, and pepper. simmer until chicken is cooked through—about ten minutes.
  7. when the chicken has cooked through and the sauce has thickened, add the butter. let it melt and stir to combine.
  8. serve immediately with a serving of rice, a piece of naan, and some fresh cilantro for garnish.

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i think this recipe was spot on with the spice combination. i did tweak some amounts ever so slightly.

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the recipe didn’t specify salted or unsalted butter, but i used unsalted so i could control the flavor using fresh ground himalayan sea salt.

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i was pumped for a reason to use my teeny tiny spatula! squeee.

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i used short grain brown rice because it’s all we had on hand and i bought my naan from the store. cheater.

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this naan is from harmon’s and it’s irresistible. i couldn’t stop. yep.. i ate 380 calories worth of naan with my butter chicken. mmmm.

i did make a few small changes to the recipe.

used a quarter of the amount of jalapeño called for because we don’t love spicy. it was perfect for our palates.

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i used almond milk instead of cream or half and half because i had no non-dairy cream on hand. because of this change, i added cornstarch to thicken the sauce.

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it worked perfectly.

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finally, i used less chicken since we are only two people.. which created more saucy sauce to soak up with that irresistible naan. mmmm.

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this recipe is a keeper! let me know if you try it.

previous from pin to post installments:


1. do you like indian food? what’s your favorite indian dish?

2. what’s one restaurant meal you’d love to recreate at home?

xo. janetha g.

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Shayla B. March 8, 2013 at 3:07 pm

I absolutely adore Indian food! I usually order something different every time that we go and usually move towards the spicier side of things. If I could recreate a restaurant meal from home… honestly it would be a massive salad bar with ALL of the options and trimmings. It is just too expensive to have all of those things on hand.

Rebecca March 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I love Indian food! I can never get enough of the beautiful and fragrant spices used. My favorite dish though is Chana Masala, its so easy to put together but so delicious.

Emily @ Adventures of a Dog Mom March 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I love both samosas and naan and won’t turn down a good lentil dal.

Recently we tried a homemade chicken tikka masala and it was really good. Here’s the link to it if you are interested, it’s from one of my favorite bloggers:

Janetha March 8, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Thanks so much! Checking it now :)

natalie @ will jog for food March 8, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Yum! Chicken tikka masala is definitely my favorite Indian food. We actually made it a few weeks ago, along with naan. I couldn’t believe how easy the naan was. The meal was delicious :)

tj March 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm

I keep looking at that recipe on Pinterest! Good to know someone has tested it out for us! :) Thanks!

Erica March 8, 2013 at 6:03 pm

OK…I’ve only had Indian once. And it was a really bad experience…I’ve been totally afraid of it since then! I always want to recreate every mexican dish at home

Cassie @redletterdaye March 8, 2013 at 6:37 pm

I actually posted a recipe for “No-Butter Chicken” this week, which is another Indian dish, so good! I love making Indian and Chinese food at home.

Giselle@myhealthyhappyhome March 8, 2013 at 7:23 pm

I was just looking at a recipe in Everyday Paleo for Butter Chicken. I’ve never had it but looking at the ingredients it sure sounds good!

Nicole @ Fruit 'N' Fitness March 8, 2013 at 7:53 pm

I love Indian food! I have only had it a few times but love dipping the naan into the various sauce type dishes. I would love to try to recreate an Indian dish at home!

Catherine March 8, 2013 at 9:04 pm

I’m a huge butter chicken fan! Last year Oxygen magazine had a recipe for No-Butter Butter Chicken … I’m addicted to it. It’s dairy free and a lighter way to enjoy the meal. I highly suggest that you check out the recipe :)

Janetha March 8, 2013 at 9:41 pm

wow, i just looked it up and it’s almost exactly like this recipe! so i bet it’s good, in that case :)

Rachel McIntyre March 8, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Indian food is my favourite! I also love chicken tikka masala. I must try this recipe. I didn’t know it was also called butter chicken. I love bhuna prawn on puri, too. Mmmmm.
In my home town there is a whole street lined with Indian restaurants. It’s heaven!

Elizabeth M. March 9, 2013 at 3:20 am

I’m totally intimidated by Indian food. I think I’d like it, but I feel like I’d have no idea what to order. Side note: I love that this recipe uses a whole can of tomato pasts. Seriously. How many cans minus 2 Tablespoons have been thrown away?!

Meg March 9, 2013 at 8:16 am

When you buy a can of tomato paste, freeze it by the tablespoon into a (wax papered) cookie sheet and freeze. Once it’s frozen solid, put them into a bag and store in the freezer. Pop one out and into your recipe whenever needed! :) It’s cheaper than buying the tube version, it lasts for months and months in the freezer and now I almost always have tomato paste on hand.

Catherine March 9, 2013 at 8:43 am

Thanks for the tip! I’m forever throwing away half used cans of tomato paste.

Lauren March 9, 2013 at 8:14 am

I have only had Indian food a handful of times but I don’t think I’m giving it enough credit. I can’t even really remember my overall thoughts on it. I’ve been eyeing that sauce from TJ’s for so long though so I think it may be time to give it another go.

jackie March 9, 2013 at 12:30 pm

yum. i love butter chicken and i loooooooooooooove mels kitchen cafe’s tiki masla recipe. all her recipes are fab! thanks for reminding me how good this recipe is. have you been to the indian place in layton? i have only had thier food at events and it was really good.

jess t March 9, 2013 at 2:27 pm

i just discovered the deliciousness of indian food a few months ago and i am now completely obsessed. i do believe i would eat it many times a week if i were single. i can’t even pick a favorite dish because i’ve loved everything i have tried. my husband agreed to go to my favorite indian restaurant for dinner tonight!! I’m pretty excited.

Emily N March 10, 2013 at 9:39 am

Great post, and that food looks delicious. Might have to try out that recipe myself. The ingredients looks delicious, and I think even my hubs might like it!

Tamara March 11, 2013 at 6:21 pm

I repinned this from you recently… I can’t wait to try it! Looks fantastic.

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