Butter chicken

Butter chicken, traditionally known as murgh makhani (pronounced [mʊrɣ ˈməkʰaːni]), is an Indian dish originating in New Delhi.[1][2] It is a type of curry made from chicken with a spiced tomato and butter (makhan) sauce. Its sauce is known for its rich texture. It is similar to chicken tikka masala, which uses a tomato paste.[8]

Butter chicken
Butter chicken
Alternative namesChicken makhani, murgh makhani
Place of originIndia
Region or stateDelhi[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]
Associated cuisineIndian
Created byKundan Lal Gujral and Kundan Lal Jaggi
Main ingredientsButter, tomatoes, chicken
VariationsPaneer makhani, dal makhani


The curry was developed in New Delhi in the 1950s after the Partition of India[9] by Kundan Lal Jaggi and Kundan Lal Gujral,[10][11] who were both Punjabi Hindu migrants from Peshawar,[12][13][2][14] as well as the founders of the Moti Mahal restaurant in the Daryaganj neighbourhood of Old Delhi.[1][2][3] The curry was made "by chance" by mixing leftover tandoori chicken in a tomato gravy, rich in butter (makhan).[15] In 1974, a recipe was published for "Murgh makhanii (Tandoori chicken cooked in butter and tomato sauce)". In 1975, the English phrase "butter chicken" curry first appeared in print, as a specialty of the house at Gaylord Indian restaurant in Manhattan.[16] In Toronto and the Caribbean, it can be found as a filling in pizza, poutine, wraps, roti, or rolls,[17] while in Australia, and New Zealand, it is also eaten as a pie filling.[18][19][20] The curry is common in India, Pakistan and many other countries where a South Asian diaspora is present.[21][22][17][23][24]


Chicken is marinated for several hours in a mixture of lemon juice, dahi (yogurt), Kashmiri red chili, salt, garam masala, ginger paste, and garlic paste.

The marinated chicken is cooked in a tandoor (traditional clay oven), but may be grilled, oven-roasted, or pan-fried. It is served in a mild curry sauce that includes butter. The sauce is a tomato, garlic, and ginger-based sauce that is simmered until smooth and much of the water has evaporated. There are many variations on the composition and spicing of the sauce, which is sieved so that it is velvety smooth. Spices may include cardamom, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, pepper, garam masala, and fenugreek (Punjabi/Hindi: kasuri methi). Cashew paste may be used as a thickener and it is finally garnished with coriander.

See also


  1. Balasubramaniam, Chitra (August 10, 2017). "A palatial offering". The Hindu. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2022. Go back in time to the place where butter chicken and dal makhni originated at Moti Mahal in Delhi's Daryaganj
  2. "Partition brought Moti Mahal, a landmark in India's culinary history, to central Delhi". www.sunday-guardian.com. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  3. Siciliano-Rosen, Laura (13 January 2014). "Delhi Food and Travel Guide: The inside scoop on the best North Indian foods".
  4. Gujral, Monish (7 March 2013). On the Butter Chicken Trail: A Delhi Darbar Cookbook (1.0 ed.). Delhi, India: Penguin India. ISBN 9780143419860.
  5. Hosking, Richard (8 August 2006). Authenticity in the kitchen : proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on food and cookery 2005 (1 ed.). Blackawton: Prospect Books. p. 393. ISBN 9781903018477.
  6. "Origin of Butter Chicken – Indian or English?". Indian Street Food Co. Archived from the original on 9 September 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  7. "Hospitality Biz India :: ICC 2017 by IFCA - Showcasing the culinary spirit of IndiaKundan". www.hospitalitybizindia.com.
  8. Irwin, Heather (September 2019). "A Butter Chicken Vs. Tikka Masala Showdown at Cumin in Santa Rosa". Sonoma Magazine. SMI Media. Retrieved 11 April 2021.
  9. "Butter chicken: A brief history". 11 April 2019.
  10. "Butter Chicken story by Monish Gujral owner of Motimahal". Moti Mahal Delux Tandoori Trail. 2021-10-07. Retrieved 2021-10-07.
  11. "Kundan Lal Gujral: Father of butter chicken". India Today. Retrieved 2021-10-07.
  12. "'Vadiya Khao': Refugees taught Delhi how to eat out in style". Hindustan Times. 14 August 2017.
  13. "ICC 2017 by IFCA – Showcasing the culinary spirit of IndiaKundan". Hospitality Biz India. 11 October 2017.
  14. Laura Siciliano-Rosen (13 January 2014). "Delhi Food and Travel Guide: The inside scoop on the best North Indian foods".
  15. "What If Kundan Lal Hadn't Hit Upon Butter Chicken?". Outlook India. 14 August 2004. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  16. Shelhart, John D.; Cobleigh, Ira U.; Bacon, Norman (1975). "Manhattan Menus".
  17. Liu, Karon (13 August 2019). "How butter chicken roti became a Toronto classic". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  18. Saurine, Angela (26 May 2015). "The best pies in Sydney and regional NSW revealed". The Daily Telegraph.
  19. Broadfield, Rob (18 November 2017). "Rob Broadfield: Taste testing Mrs Mac's new Perth Stadium range of pies". The West Australian.
  20. "New vegan pie awards and the changing taste of a Kiwi classic". New Zealand Herald. 28 September 2018.
  21. "India's most popular curry: Butter chicken". sbs.com.au. 22 August 2018. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  22. "How Did Butter Chicken Become Synonymous With Delhi?". HuffPost India. 30 May 2017. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  23. Wilson, Laurie (11 August 2018). "What Is the Difference Between Authentic and American Indian Food?". Chowhound. Retrieved 4 January 2020.
  24. Anand, Anjum (21 April 2010). "Sweet and murky: the British curry". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 January 2020.


  • Curry Club Tandoori and Tikka Dishes, Piatkus, London — ISBN 0-7499-1283-9 (1993)
  • Curry Club 100 Favourite Tandoori Recipes, Piatkus, London — ISBN 0-7499-1491-2 & ISBN 0-7499-1741-5 (1995)
  • India: Food & Cooking, New Holland, London — ISBN 978-1-84537-619-2 (2007)
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