Did you know that butter chicken is the most searched Indian recipe on the internet? (To be fair, butter chicken and biryani are always in a neck to neck race for the top search spot). It’s hard to believe that a dish that is only about 70 years old is recognized worldwide as the ultimate Punjabi food – trumping hundreds of years of culinary history. The best part is, what makes butter chicken so good, doesn’t have much to do with chicken, and everything to do with the makhani sauce! This “butter chicken sauce” is a creamy, tangy, and basically delicious sauce that can easily be used with paneer to create a shahi paneer type effect, and also tastes great over veggies, rice, or even pasta. (I’ve got a great makhani mac & cheese coming up next week!)
My makhani sauce is a favourite in the family, and I’m forever making double batches to store in the freezer. Honestly though, whenever I make this, we usually end up rolling it over into two dinners in the same week. My recipe started from a rough recipe a friend’s sister shared with me and over the years it’s evolved into this version.
I’ve shared the step-by-step directions with lots of bonus tips in the video below. If you can take the trouble to grind and roast your own spices, that’s really what makes this dish! Pay close attention to the part about cream – taste your tomatoes and adjust the cream to your preference. If you like a really sweet makhani sauce like the restaurants, add more cream, or keep it lighter if you prefer a tang. This is a fully customizable recipe
Makhani Sauce Recipe:
Whole Spices (for roasting)
1 inch cinnamon stick
3-4 green cardamom
10 black peppercorn
1/2 tbs coriander seeds
2 tbs butter
1 bay leaf
1.5 cups pureed onion
3 cups pureed tomato
8 garlic pods – chopped
2 inch piece of ginger – chopped
1/2 tbs salt (or to taste)
3 tbs makhani /whipped butter
1 tsp honey
1/4-1/2 cup of full fat cream
1 tbs ground kasuri methi/fenugreek
1/2 tbs garam masala
- Roast and grind whole spices.
- Start your sauce with butter, bay leaf, pureed onion & tomato, and chopped ginger, garlic, and salt. Cook on medium-high flame for 4-5 minutes. Do not over cook or caramelize.
- Puree the sauce with an immersion blender and pass through a sieve.
- Add in roasted spices from step 1, and makhani to the sauce. Blend well
- Add honey to the sauce and test for seasoning and sweetness.
- Slowly add cream to the sauce tasting as you go.
- (Optional) Add cooked tandoori chicken, paneer cubes, or lightly steamed veggies.
- Finish with kasuri methi and garam masala.