How to Make Velvety Butter Chicken Without Cream or Butter

How to Make Velvety Butter Chicken Without Cream or Butter

How to Make Velvety Butter Chicken Without Cream or Butter

Butter Chicken, also known as Murgh Makhani, is a beloved dish in Indian cuisine known for its rich, creamy texture and robust flavors. Traditional recipes call for cream and butter, but you can make a delicious, velvety version without these ingredients. Here’s how you can achieve that luscious texture and taste while keeping it lighter and healthier.


For the Chicken Marinade:

  • 500 grams boneless chicken (preferably thigh pieces)
  • 1 cup yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon

For the Gravy:

  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 3 large tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 tablespoons cashew nuts, soaked in warm water
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 green chilies, slit
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (vegetable or olive oil)
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh coriander leaves for garnish


Step 1: Marinate the Chicken

  1. Prepare the Marinade:
    • In a large bowl, combine yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric powder, red chili powder, garam masala, coriander powder, salt, and lemon juice.
    • Mix well to form a smooth marinade.
  2. Marinate the Chicken:
    • Add the chicken pieces to the marinade, ensuring they are well-coated.
    • Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or preferably overnight, to allow the flavors to penetrate the chicken.

Step 2: Cook the Chicken

  1. Grill or Bake the Chicken:
    • Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F) or heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
    • Arrange the marinated chicken pieces on a baking sheet or grill pan.
    • Grill or bake the chicken for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and slightly charred on the edges.
    • Remove from the oven or grill and set aside.

Step 3: Prepare the Cashew Paste

  1. Make the Cashew Paste:
    • Drain the soaked cashew nuts and blend them with a little water to form a smooth paste.
    • Set aside for later use.

Step 4: Make the Gravy

  1. Sauté the Onions:
    • Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat.
    • Add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
    • Add the finely chopped onions and sauté until golden brown.
  2. Cook the Aromatics:
    • Add ginger-garlic paste and green chilies. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the raw smell disappears.
  3. Add the Spices:
    • Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, garam masala, and coriander powder.
    • Sauté for another minute to let the spices release their aroma.
  4. Add the Tomato Puree:
    • Pour in the tomato puree and cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oil starts to separate from the tomato mixture.
  5. Incorporate the Cashew Paste:
    • Add the cashew paste to the pan and mix well.
    • Cook for another 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously, to ensure the gravy is smooth and well-blended.

Step 5: Combine Chicken and Gravy

  1. Add the Chicken:
    • Add the grilled or baked chicken pieces to the gravy.
    • Stir well to coat the chicken with the gravy.
  2. Simmer the Gravy:
    • Reduce the heat to low and let the chicken simmer in the gravy for 10-15 minutes.
    • Crush the fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) between your palms and add them to the gravy. This will impart a unique, aromatic flavor.

Step 6: Finishing Touches

  1. Adjust Seasoning:
    • Taste the gravy and adjust salt and spices as needed.
  2. Garnish:
    • Garnish with fresh coriander leaves before serving.

Serving Suggestions:

  • Rice: Serve the velvety butter chicken with steamed basmati rice for a classic combination.
  • Naan: Pair it with naan, roti, or any Indian bread of your choice.
  • Salad: A fresh green salad or a simple cucumber raita complements the rich flavors of the dish.

Tips for a Perfect Butter Chicken Without Cream or Butter:

  1. Yogurt Marinade: The yogurt in the marinade not only tenderizes the chicken but also adds a subtle tanginess that balances the flavors.
  2. Cashew Paste: Using cashew paste is the key to achieving a creamy texture without the need for cream. It also adds a rich, nutty flavor to the gravy.
  3. Tomato Puree: Fresh tomato puree gives a natural sweetness and depth to the gravy, ensuring it’s not too acidic.
  4. Slow Cooking: Allowing the chicken to simmer in the gravy ensures the flavors meld beautifully, resulting in a more flavorful dish.
  5. Fenugreek Leaves: Adding crushed fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) enhances the aroma and gives the dish its signature taste.


Making velvety butter chicken without cream or butter is not only possible but also incredibly delicious. This healthier version retains the rich, creamy texture and robust flavors that make butter chicken a favorite. By using yogurt, cashew paste, and aromatic spices, you can enjoy a sumptuous dish that’s lighter and just as satisfying. Try this recipe at home for a delightful meal that’s perfect for any occasion.

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