Indian Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice

A few years ago I had not even heard of Indian Butter Chicken. Was I living on some other planet? It kind of seems that must have been the case.I had this dish for the very first time, our last night living in college town. My aunt and uncle made it for us and after a week of packing and cleaning with a 2 month old baby, I thought that it was the best thing I had ever eaten.



The next morning we headed out to Albuquerque, our home for the past 4 years. Eric was done with his Master’s degree and we were ready to move on to a job and a real life. I love our life here in Albuquerque. I am so grateful we are employed, and have been consistently since leaving college town, but I remember that last night and this meal so well because there were so many emotions going on. I was sad to leave my comfort zone and sad to leave family members I love behind. Add to that a mix of post-pregnancy hormones and you’ve really got something going on.



I have often made Indian Butter Chicken since that night. It’s still a favorite of ours, proving that it wasn’t my sleep-deprived-stressed-out-post-pregnancy perception about this dish being one of the best things I’d eaten.I’ve never had authentic Indian restaurant Butter Chicken so I can’t compare it to that, but I do know I love this recipe. I love the people who taught it to me and I miss them all the time.

Indian Butter Chicken
with Basmati Rice
adapted from Sunset

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  • 1 onion (1/2 lb.), peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh jalapeΓ±o, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse-ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/8 lb.) butter
  • 2 cups basmati rice, uncooked
  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped

Cook rice according to package instructions.

In a large saute pan, combine onion, ginger, chili, and oil. Stir often over medium-high heat until onion is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, garam masala, chili powder, cardamom, and coriander. Saute for an additional 2 minutes.

Scrape mixture into a blender or food processor; add tomato paste and chicken broth. Whirl until very smooth. Pour mixture back into pan, add half and half or cream and crushed bay leaves, and bring to a gentle boil over high heat (mixture is inclined to spatter). Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until reduced to 3 cups, about 5-7 minutes. Pour sauce into a bowl. Rinse and dry pan.

Pat the chicken dry. Mix chicken with salt and pepper. Set pan over high heat; add 1 tablespoon butter and the chicken. Stir until chicken is no longer pink on the surface, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer over medium heat, stirring often, until chicken is no longer pink in the center (cut to test), 3 to 4 minutes. Cut remaining 3 tablespoons butter into chunks and stir into sauce until melted.

Spoon chicken and sauce onto rice. Squeeze lime juice over portions and garnish with cilantro.