Monday, March 9, 2015

Chicken Masala - Copy Cat Indian Restaurant recipe

Crazy Good Indian Butter Chicken
(Murgh Makhani Masala)

I'm not kidding, this dish is amazing. For years I have wanted to duplicate Indian Masala dishes found at my favorite Indian restaurant, The Bombay House, in Utah. My girls and I ADORE masala. Nothing made at home ever came close, I never found good recipes in books or online.


I get stubborn about these things sometimes... I again did my research, and still did not find what I was looking for. BUT, I decided to start with a basic Indian gravy and work from there. I knew I wanted a creamy, buttery tomato base. I did not want to taste an over abundance of cumin, which most home made recipes have. I also did not want the sauce to be acidic tasting from the tomato, again, most home made sauces are too sour. I wanted a harmonious marriage of exotic Indian spices, peeking their way through, delighting the taste buds. The sauces I love also have a subtle sweetness to them too and I wanted to duplicate that.

I cooked and tasted carefully, adding more spices and "stuff" until the sauce "officially arrived".

The sauce turned out so rich and flavorful. The chicken was so moist and tender, with a touch of tang that perfectly complimented the decadent sauce. Served over basmati rice, and garnished with cilantro, it was perfect. We enjoyed it more than the version served at most Indian restaurants. I usually have to have tamarind chutney on the side to fully enjoy this dish, but this has such a nice flavor that I didn't need it at all. We fell into a blissful Indian food coma after this incredible meal. We were SO happy, just sayin'.

This is a sauce you can add any meat to, not just the marinated chicken recipe below. You can make it vegetarian, by adding Paneer (an Indian cheese). Oh, how I love paneer... I tried making it once - epic fail. I'll figure that one out too some time.

This makes enough sauce to serve about 8 people, or 2 meals of 4. I like to make the sauce ahead of time and store it in the fridge until needed. Restaurants also make their sauces in advance, in big batches, to save time. They will then customize it to order for their patrons. Marinating your meat ahead of time makes for quick meals come dinner time.

This recipe is surprisingly easy to prepare.  How great is that?

Serve with basmati rice for authenticity and true deliciousness. I like to garnish with fresh chopped cilantro too.

Garlic Naan is a natural to serve with Indian food, My recipe is not gluten-free (yet), so I will not share it with you here.

Here is my original prized recipe, I now present it to you...

Marinated Chicken:

3 to 4 fresh or thawed skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 T. mashed garlic
1/2 T. grated fresh ginger
1 T. plain yogurt (Greek yogurt works too)
1 t. garahm masala powder (recipe on this blog)
1/2 t. tumeric powder
1/2 t. chili powder
1 t. BioSalt (recipe on this blog)


Mix the marinade with the chicken in a heavy duty Ziplock bag. Coat the chicken evenly.

Let marinate in your refrigerator for at least 4 hours, overnight is even better (you may store in your refrigerator up to 3 days this way).

Makhani Masala Sauce (a thick buttery tomato based sauce):

2 T. virgin coconut oil
1/2 c. pureed onion
1 T. fresh grated ginger (paste)
1 T. smashed garlic (paste)
1/2 to 1 T. kasuri methi (dry fenugreek leaves), optional to taste (Indian food stores)
1 1/2 t. Graham masala powder
1 t. Ancho red chili powder
1/2 t. plus 1/8 t. Saigon cinnamon
1/2 t. cardamom powder
1/2 t. tumeric powder, optional (I left it out this time)
1 pinch red hot pepper flakes
1 green chili, minced, optional (I left it out this time)
3 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
1 c. hot water
1 c. heavy cream (Dairy-Free Version: omit cream and water, add 2 cans full-fat coconut milk)
2 t. xylitol
1 1/2 t. BioSalt, to taste (recipe on this blog)
1 T. butter (omit if dairy-free version is desired)


Heat 2 T. coconut oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat..

Add ground onion  and saute until it starts looking translucent.

Add the ginger paste, garlic paste and kasuri methi, if using (I did not have any).

Saute until the mixture until it starts to sizzle and let it sizzle a few minutes. Don't let it burn.

Add a touch of water if you feel the onion is sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add the graham masala, chili powder, cinnamon, cardamom, hot pepper flakes, and green chili.

Mix well in the pan. Add the tomato sauce and 1 c. hot water.

Turn the heat down to medium, cover and let cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 1 c. heavy cream and 2 t. xylitol, stir and then bring up to a boil again, uncovered.

Add 1 1/2 t. BioSalt and 1 T. butter, stir in and remove from heat.

Taste for seasoning. It should have a subtle sweetness from the xylitol and sweet spices.

Use the sauce immediately or pour into a quart jar and store in your refrigerated until needed.

There is enough sauce to prepare 2 batches of the marinated chicken above.

To Prepare The Meal:

Prepare the basmati rice according to the directions for your rice cooker, using 3 cups rice, the amount of water called for, 1 T. butter and a heaping t. BioSalt.

In a large frying pan, heat the 2 T. coconut oil and fry the chicken pieces for about 3 minutes on each side, until starting to brown. don't over crowd the chicken in the pan.

Once the chicken is done, Add the prepared sauce, about 2 cups worth.

Stir together and gently heat through. Thin with a little water as needed.

Top with fresh chopped cilantro.

Serve over hot cooked basmati rice.


In the future I may puree the sauce to make it even more velvety.

I used our home made Garam Masala spice blend recipe found on this blog.

See pictures of the cooking process:

The sauce is the boss!

Sauce ready to put into the fridge.

The chicken is marinating...

Virgin coconut oil is perfect for this dish.

Coconut oil is melted in the pan and marinated chicken is placed inside...

Saute chicken until golden and flip over to brown the other side.

Pour in about half a jars worth of  prepared sauce.

Add a bit of water when the sauce gets too thick.

The finished chicken and sauce.

Served with Basmati rice and Naan.