Butter chicken is alleged to have been created in Delhi in the 1950s (though it wasn’t called ‘butter chicken’ until it appeared on a menu in New York in 1975) as a way of reusing yesterday’s tandoori meats which, without the luxury of refrigeration, had a tendency to dry out quickly.
Now a staple not just in India but around the world, butter chicken is as popular in home kitchens as it is in restaurants.
By creating a flavourful, charred roast tandoori chicken first, then dousing it in vibrant butter chicken sauce made from the same premium tandoori paste – spiked with plenty of Pepe Saya Ghee and using coconut cream instead of cream for an extra hit of flavour – our version of this rich recipe packs the kind of flavour punch you rarely get from at-home recipes.
Our spicy and aromatic The Essential Ingredient Tandoori Paste isn’t only incredible with chicken- it makes a wonderful marinade for lamb, firm-fleshed fish and prawns. Simply combine equal parts tandoori paste with natural yoghurt, and thin with a little lemon juice, then leave to marinate for at least three hours (but preferably overnight).
Combine tandoori paste, yoghurt and lemon juice in a bowl. Slash each piece of chicken once or twice, stopping just before you reach the bone. Cover each piece of chicken with the prepared paste mix, ensuring you get it deep into the slashed flesh, then cover and refrigerate for at least three hours or, preferably, overnight.
Remove the chicken from the fridge one you before cooking. Preheat your oven to its hottest setting. Arrange the pieces of chicken on a tray, ensuring they don’t touch each other, then roast until the chicken is cooked through and the edges just start to burn.
Melt the ghee in a medium-sized saucepan, then reduce the heat to low and add the onions. Cook slowly until translucent, taking care not to burn them. Add the ginger and garlic, and cook until fragrant, then increase the heat slightly and add the tandoori paste. Cook, stirring, until the ghee turns red, then add the tomatoes.
Simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the heat and allow to cook slightly. Transfer to a blender or food processor and blitz until smooth. Add the coconut cream and blend again until well combined. Taste the sauce and add more salt or coconut cream as needed.
Layer the cooked chicken in a large saucepan or coverable oven-proof dish, spoon over the butter chicken sauce and simmer over a low heat (or in a warm oven) until the meat is warmed through.
Serve, scattered with slices of green chilli and a few extra drizzles of coconut cream, alongside basmati rice, mint yoghurt, and pappadam or naan.