Chicken Tikka Masala and Butter Chicken are two quintessential Indian ‘curry’ dishes that you will always find in all Indian restaurants. Are these authentic Indian dishes? Not necessarily so. Are they really popular? Like heck they are! Among the non-Indian populace that is! I personally would never order either of these dishes even in my pre-AIP days since the dairy in them didn’t sit well in my stomach.
And now I love these two dishes as long as they are made by me (haha …so modest of me, right 🙂 ). I have made my version of Chicken Tikka Masala before and I have posted two versions of it – one is the AIP version and the other is a Paleo version that uses cashew nuts for creaminess. And both of these are so yum!
I have been attempting to make my version of ‘Butter Chicken’ for a while now. And finally last fall I nailed it! I didn’t get a chance to post the recipe because of the craziness of the holidays. But now as I was rummaging through my pictures from last year to see what should be my first post for 2020, I thought this delicious Butter Chicken recipe would be just perfect !
What is ‘Butter Chicken’ anyways? Well ‘Butter Chicken’ is a chicken curry dish that was probably created for the western palate since it is flavorful with a variety of spices yet it is not hot and spicy. Lots of butter (or ghee) is used and the gravy is made from lots of tomatoes and dairy to give you a velvety smooth curry.
Now I tried to create something similar however my version of ‘Butter Chicken’ is night shade free and dairy free. A bit of kashmiri chilli pepper (which is a nightshade) will give a slight hint of heat (I add it now as an AIP reintro) however it is not needed since the curry is quite flavorful even without it.
And what are the special spices I use that makes this curry so flavorful?
The first one is called Kasoori methi which is nothing but dried fenugreek leaves. These have a wonderful flavor however since they are slightly bitter in taste, a little goes a long way!
And the second spice I add here is called Dagad Phool or black stone flower or kalpasi, which is a species of lichen used as spice in India. The scientific name of this is Parmotrema perlatum( 1). Again with this spice too, a little goes a long way. The texture of this spice is paper like and when raw it has a very faint smell however on cooking the aroma gets stronger and it adds a distinctive earthy and smoky flavor to the curry! Now you could make this curry even without the ‘dagad phool’ spice since the curry will have enough flavor from the other spices used. However if you can get your hands on it, then I recommend you definitely give it a try! Dagad Phool is ‘AIP Compliant’!
Apart from the above spices, this curry also has a special ingredient – Pumpkin puree! That along with the cranberries is a good substitute for the tomatoes and gives the curry the prefect ‘buttery’ texture! I developed this recipe to make the flavor profile of this curry different from the Chicken Tikka Masala and I think I was really successful because the AIP Chicken Tikka Masala and this Butter Chicken are two distinctly different curries even though they have some similar ingredients.
The curry tastes fabulous with homemade cassava rotis or homemade cassava and singada rotis. Or you can just have it with some cauliflower rice or cauliflower pilaf.
Here’s the step by step instruction on how to make this Indian Butter Chicken!
Update: I have recently simplified the recipe so the Video version and the print version of the recipe are slightly different. The print version that you see here is basically the ‘easier’ version! My cookbook ‘AIP Indian Fusion’ also has a version of this recipe! And if you like this recipe, you will definitely like all the other curry recipes in my cookbook. You can learn more about my book here!
This Butter chicken is one of the 114 AIP recipes in my cookbook ‘AIP INDIAN FUSION’. Have you gotten a copy yet? Click here for more information on the book and to buy it!
- 1.5 lbs of chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp lime juice (or apple cider vinegar)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil or avocado oil
- 1 tsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
- 1 inch by 1 inch piece of Dagad phool / Stoneflower (optional)
- one piece of whole mace (or ½ tsp ground mace)
- 2 medium size onions chopped roughly
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 10-12 fresh or frozen cranberries
- ½ cup pumpkin puree (canned or homemade)
- 1 cup water
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp coconut sugar or honey or maple syrup (optional)
- In a large mixing bowl, add the chicken pieces, the garlic powder, ground ginger, sea salt and the lime juice (or apple cider vinegar). Mix with your hands to coat the chicken well and keep this aside.
- Place a large cooking pot and heat the oil. When hot, add the kasoori methi (dried fenugreek) and the dagad phool (if adding), the onions and the sea salt. Stir fry for a couple mins.
- Next add the marinated chicken, cranberries, pumpkin puree, water, cinnamon and sweetener (if adding).Cover and cook on low heat for 10 mins or until the chicken is cooked and soft.
- Continue to simmer uncovered for a couple more minutes until you get the desired consistency for the curry.
- Serve Butter Chicken with grain free cassava rotis or with cauliflower rice.
My family and I LOVE this recipe, including my two kids and my foodie non-AIP husband. My husband expected not to like it as a connoisseur of fine Indian food, but was pleasantly surprised to really enjoy it! We made a few modifications to what we had in hand at the time and it was still delicious! Instead of pumpkin, we added mashed sweet potato instead and halved the coconut sugar sweetener, tamarind paste to taste instead of cranberries (3/4 tbls), and instead of dagad phool which we had no luck finding at our Indian market we added a little smoked paprika.
This recipe is my new go-to and I can’t wait to try more from this website and cookbook! Thanks!
Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing your variations!
Hi. Is there anything that I could add instead of cranberries? I don’t do very well with them. Thanks!
You can add some lemon juice instead. Cranberries give a slight tartness to the curry.
I also tried 3/4 table of tamarind paste and this was a nice substitute for the cranberries. You can find it at an Asian market.
This is so good and easy! My non aip husband likes it too, we just add some chili to his at the end. I highly recommend it as it is one of my favorite AIP recipes. I eat it with cassava tortilla and a side salad.
thank you so much for the review! I am so glad you and your family love it! Awesome!
Hi, thanks for sharing your recipe, I dont understand why you’ve added fenugreek for aip when it says this is one of the spices to avoid for aip?
I am using dried Fenugreek leaves. These are different from fenugreek seeds. Seeds are the ones not allowed on AIP but fenugreek leaves are ok. Hope that helps.
Can you share what
Brand of food processor you’re using? It looks so simple & small.
Sure. Here is the link to it. It is an Indian brand that I have had for several years now. It is great for wet grinding – chutneys and curry masala etc. It also has a small jar which you can use for dry grinding spices and nuts etc. Here is the link to get it from amazon : https://amzn.to/3tyF4SK
Hope that helps!
Hello, when cooking with Dagad phool do I break it down in a mortar or use more like a bay leaf?
More like a bay leaf if you want a mild flavor. You keep it whole and then discard it later. Sometimes they are also ground with the rest of the masala and blended into a sauce.
This was absolutely delicious! Your recipes have helped me stay compliant and I cannot express my gratitude enough. So yummy!
thanks so much! Great to know!
Was wondering about this in the slow-cooker. Have you tried/Would you recommend?
any changes I should make if so?
Hello Andree, You can definitely make this in the slow cooker too. However, I would add a bit more water and then obviously cook it for more time (not exactly sure but probably at least 4 hours). Good Luck and let me know if you do and how it turns out!