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Ultimate Spicy Butter Chicken

Admit it you’re drooling just thinking about it!   There are several different techniques how to make butter chicken.  So what makes this any better?  I use thighs not breast and I don’t strain the gravy, I leave it rustic….oh and I use a Sous Vide. 

This recipe is the one I’ve settled on and highlighted below the important details you’ll need to pay attention to.

  1. Marinade the chicken 4 hours to overnight in the fridge.
  2. Make the sauce the day before.   The melding of the ingredients elevates this dish one step higher.
  3. Simmer!!  Don’t boil the bejesus out of it.  If you’re of English or Scottish descent this part might be hard to do.  🙂
  4. Sous Vide the chicken, total game changer.  DISCARD all chicken juices after cooking in the bag.
  5. Soak the Cashews in hot water for 15 to 20 min.

Plan two days to make this dish.

Chefs Preference:  You could use chicken breast….but chicken thighs taste way better.

Optional:  Straining the gravy and discarding the solids makes it look more restaurant style.  But to me this is unnecessary.  Give it a try and leave it rustic.  

Optional:  To me it doesn’t really matter if you use canned diced tomatoes or if you chop them up whole.   But if you do use whole tomatoes it’s kind of important to blanch them first.

Fun fact:  I had no idea this dish was created in the 50’s!  I always imagined this recipe was inspired  back in the day when camels and flying carpets was the only source of transportation. 


Blanch Thy Tomatoes

Professional Tip:  Blanch Your Tomatoes if you choose to start with whole tomatoes.

This is process is especially important to keeping this dish as red as possible and it also helps during the sieving process.  Keep in mind the skin is bitter anyway, you don’t need it.  Blanching is a heat-and-cool process. It slows the natural enzymes in the tomatoes that causes loss of flavour and colour.  (Canadian Spelling, eh!)


  • Fill a pot with water; bring water to boiling.
  • With a knife, cut a shallow X on the bottom of each tomato. This encourages the skin to split during blanching so you’ll be able to slip off the skin easily with your fingers once the tomatoes have cooled.
  • Working in 1-pound batches, immerse tomatoes in the boiling water.
  • Cook for 30 to 60 seconds or until the tomato skins split open.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer tomatoes to a large bowl of ice water.
butter chicken
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Butter Chicken

Rustic Butter Chicken
Prep Time24 days
Cook Time2 hours
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: chicken
Servings: 3 people
Author: Brad Budge


Chicken Marinade

  • 3 lbs Chicken Thighs Cut into chunks.
  • 1 tsp Ginger Paste
  • 1 tsp Garlic Paste
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • 1 Cup Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt


  • 4 tbsp Ghee
  • 2 tbsp Unsalted Butter
  • 1.5 cup Diced Red Onion Optional: Shallots
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Paste
  • 3/4 cup Unsalted Cashews Soak in hotwater for 15-20 min. Chop'em up.
  • 1/2 tsp Garam Masala
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Kashmiri Chilli Powder
  • 1.5 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar Careful!
  • 1 pinch Sea Salt
  • 28 oz Quality Diced Tomatoes Plum is best


  • Heavy Cream Optional
  • Cilantro Garnish


Chicken Marinade and Sous Vide (24 hours)

  • Mix chicken marinade in a bowl then add all your chicken bits and coat evenly. Marinade up to 24 hours. 4 hours min.
  • Add to a sous vide bag. Put in water at 167F for 45 min. What's great about this is you can leave the chicken cooking in the bag for another hour and not worry about over cooking it. Magic, hu?
  • Remember to discard chicken juices out of the bag when finished.

Gravy (90 min - refrigerate overnight)

  • Add Ghee and butter in a large pan, when butter is melted add onion and saute till soft and golden. It might look there is too much ghee or butter, this is okay. Once you add the spices it will all incorporate evenly.
  • Add all gravy ingredient except for the cream on a medium heat, SIMMER rule #3! Add cream only at the very end before serving. Taste and visual colour will determine if you even need cream.
  • This take about 45-60 or so. Or until the tomatoes are basically completely wilted. You're more then welcome to let simmer longer on very low a #1 heat just enough to keep warm.
  • If you have a hand blitz-er or blender give the sauce a good blend to your liking.
  • Optional: Pour gravy through a sieve to remove any chunks and seeds. You a spoon or fork the squish as much liquid as possible. Put in a bowl and cover at leave in the fridge till you need it. However, try it just the way it is.

Putting together

  • Warm up your gravy, taste for salt. If you feel you want to add cream to lighten it up this is when you do it.
  • Add your chicken, don't add the chicken juice from the bag. Stir in. If you want to be Chefy about it, garnish with cilantro and swirl on top some more cream.

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