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Chicken Makhani (Butter Chicken)

I realized something really important last night; 2016 was just a crazy CRAZY year. What made me realize this is that I’ve been having way more fun with my kids lately. I know, this sounds weird… it’s not because I wasn’t having fun with my kids anymore, it’s that I was barely surviving my days. I was playing with my kids because I had to, not because I wanted to. 2016 started out with a blast as we were waiting to find out if one of our kids was chosen by the US to get a really edgy brain surgery (he’s deaf but otherwise perfectly healthy). By the beginning of March we found out he was indeed chosen as the first child to undergo an ABI in the State of California (if you’re curious and want to read more, this is a good place to start: Auguste's ABI surgery). Once this was clear, began the incredible whirlwind journey that was the surgery and the recovery, the many trips back and forth between Montreal and LA and everything in between. As my husband and I are absolutely crazy, we felt we didn’t have enough and decided to improve a few things in the house starting with a complete makeover of the kitchen. This was absolutely crazy of us yet it was what kept us going because we felt that this would improve our entire family’s well being. And it did!

2017 means completely new beginnings for us. Now that all of this is behind us I, mostly, can get a life back, my life. This means little things like going back into my daily routine, and bigger things like finding some work (got any job offers? J), enjoying my family, and, on top of everything, gaining back my cooking skills. Which I’m totally doing! A few days ago I opened a cookbook that my husband gave my last year for my birthday. As you can imagine, I hadn’t even gotten the chance to even open the pages to take a look at it! I was soooo eager to get to it and test out one of the recipes… Which I did! And it was no disappointment. Sure, it took me a little bit of time and many ingredients but it turned out to be absolutely tasty! If you’re into Indian flavors, this is sure to please your palate!

Chicken Makhani is a tasty butter chicken from North India. You’ve surely had some at the restaurant. It’s personally one of my favorite Indian dishes. They’re a few variants. In India it’s made a little spicier than our North American versions of the dish. I made this recipe accessible for people like me, who don’t own a tandoor oven! I also changed the traditional cashew nuts with almonds since I’m allergic to nuts. If you’re Indian (or are a pro Indian cook!), please don’t be shy to share you variants. I’d love to try out new versions as I know 100% that I’ll be making this recipe once again very soon… it’s way to tasty and perfect for the cold winter! Oh yeah, just so you know, my baby even licked his plate he liked it so much!

Chicken Makhani (Butter chicken) Serves 6 - Preparation: 24 hours - Cooking Time: 1 hour - Level: BIG KID


  • 1.5 kg chicken thighs

  • 200 g slivered or ground almonds (or raw cashews)

  • 2 tsp garam masala

  • 2 tsp ground coriander

  • ½ tsp ground hot peppers

  • 3 garlic cloves, minced

  • 20 g (about 4 cm) grated ginger

  • 2 tbsp white vinegar

  • 156ml tomato paste

  • 2 cups plain yogurt

  • 2 tbsp butter

  • 1 big yellow onion, chopped

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 4 cardamom pods

  • 1 tsp hot paprika

  • 400 ml tomato purée

  • 180 ml chicken broth

  • 180 ml 35% cream

  • Salt

  • Fresh coriander


  1. Salt your chicken thoroughly and set aside.

  2. In a skillet, dry roast over medium heat the nuts, garam masala, coriander and peppers until the nuts are golden. Keep a close eye on the nuts as they could easily burn if left unattended. Let cool.

  3. In a large bowl mix the garlic, ginger, vinegar, tomato paste and the yogurt. Add the nut and spices mixture and blend well. Add the chicken and make sure all the pieces are well covered with the marinade. Cover and chill in the fridge overnight. You could marinate for a minimum of 3 hours. I marinated mine for about 20 hours!

  4. When ready to cook, melt the butter in a large skillet and melt the onions along with the cinnamon and the cardamom, until the onion is slightly golden. Add the chicken and cook for about 10 minutes, while mixing once every few minutes.

  5. Add the paprika, the tomato purée and the chicken broth. Blend and let simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour, until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

  6. Throw out the cinnamon and the cardamom. Add the cream and let simmer for an extra 5 minutes. Adjust taste with salt.

  7. Serve topped with fresh coriander leaves and with fragrant jasmine rice.

Note:if you’d like a less spicy version of this dish, remove the hot peppers and switch the hot paprika for sweet paprika.

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