Instant Pot Butter Chicken Recipe

by Jyoti Sawant
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Murgh makhni, murgh meaning chicken and makhni meaning butter, also popularly known as Butter chicken, Chicken makhni, Chicken Makkhanwala, is probably one of the most popular Indian chicken recipes liked by all, and since Instant pot has come into being, the ease with which you can make Butter Chicken in it has made it gain even more worldwide fame, opening its doors to American hearts as well. All in all as of date, this dish has a huge fan following now.

WHAT IS BUTTER CHICKEN?

Butter Chicken originates from the North side of India. It is a delicately spiced deliciously creamy tomato sauce curry, cooked with chunky pieces of grilled chicken. In this, the skinless chicken pieces are lightly marinated with yogurt and spices to enhance its flavors and then cooked in the tandoor (a clay oven) until juicy and smoky, before being added to the creamy, tomato and butter gravy until the meat is fall-off-the-bone soft. This dish is known for its orangish color, usually from turmeric and chili powder (paprika) in the sauce, sometimes in the restaurants, they add orange food coloring. Some restaurants make a variation to this dish by giving goat, lamb or beef the same tandoori treatment and cooking it in butter gravy, but chicken is the typical O.G. protein. This dish is low in carb and Keto centric as well!

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Nothing warms the heart more than a big bowl of hot curry

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ORIGIN OF BUTTER CHICKEN AKA MURGH MAKHNI

Want to know where this dish originated? In Kundan Lal Gujral’s restaurant kitchen in 1948. Let’s thank him for creating this amazing Murgh Makhni dish. Kundan Lal Gujral used to run a legendary restaurant called Moti Mahal in Delhi (Capitol of Indian, geographically in the north of India). His restaurant was famous for his tandoori chicken and it is said that in a way to use up his popular creation of tandoori chicken in a more creative way and to prevent the leftover tandoori chicken from drying out, he stewed it in a tomato based sauce with aromatic spices and yes some butter!! And that’s how Murgh makhni or Butter Chicken or Chicken Makkhanwala was invented.

With that said, the grilling of the chicken is as crucial in making a true butter chicken as the creamy tomato gravy that the grilled chicken is cooked in. Now obviously we all don’t have Tandoors in our home kitchens to grill the chicken but skipping that step totally will give you a totally different dish altogether. In this post, I will show you how to grill the chicken without a tandoor in your oven so it gets a nice smoky flavor and toasty texture and it then cooks in the tomatoey gravy to give a perfect butter chicken dish.

BUTTER CHICKEN VS. CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA

So, what is “Chicken Tikka Masala” that you keep hearing about and how is it different from Butter Chicken? We already know where Butter chicken came from, but people say that Chicken Tikka Masala was invented in London and some even believe that it is the national dish of England, well that is hard to believe. Chicken Tikka Masala just like butter chicken has the same chunks of tandoori grilled chicken pieces, simmered in orangish tomato-based gravy, except that it is always boneless, now that can’t be a differentiator, right? What is more believable though, is that maybe the British people loved butter chicken so much that they gave it a new name that they deemed apt. In any case, everything in Chicken tikka masala is Indian, the name, the spices, and the gravy so if it is getting so much love then it is all good. In short, if you go to a restaurant and are being served chicken tikka masala, be assured it is butter chicken that you will be eating.

chicken tikka massala with pilau rice

HOW IS THIS BUTTER CHICKEN BETTER?

While Butter Chicken is one of the most popular Indian dishes it is also true that it is not one of the healthiest ones. Butter chicken made in the restaurants are usually ladened with butter and cream making this dish quite unhealthy choice of food, but when you are making it at home you have complete control over the dish. In my recipe, I will show you how by controlling the fat and using lean chicken you can make a healthier version of it. This dish is generally low in carb and Keto centric as well.

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HOW TO SERVE BUTTER CHICKEN?

Traditionally this flavorful, saucy dish is served on rice,  which serves well to absorb the tasty sauce. You can also serve this with buttery roti (Tortilla like Indian bread made of whole wheat) or Naan that helps in scooping up the delicious sauce along with chunks of juicy marinated chicken pieces. If you follow a keto diet,  you can try cauliflower rice as a substitute. In addition to the butter chicken, you can also add a side vegetable dish like aloo gobi to make it a complete meal.

WHY MAKE BUTTER CHICKEN IN THE INSTANT POT AND WHAT IS SO GOOD ABOUT THIS RECIPE?

Instant pot makes it so easy to make Butter Chicken. Once you have tried it in the Instant Pot, you will never go the stovetop way. You will love this perfectly cooked, no fail Butter Chicken! Here is why.

  • This recipe is one of the easiest recipes to make butter chicken gravy in the Instant Pot. There is no need to remove chicken from the pot and then use an immersion blender to blend the sauce as many other recipes suggest. Just a little prep work beforehand saves a lot of hassle later. Also, my method of grilling the chicken in the oven frees the Instant pot to Saute’  the gravy base at the same time while the chicken is cooking.
  • Cooking it in the Instant Pot traps all the juices of the chicken making it mouthwateringly flavorful and tender.
  • My Instant Pot recipe for Butter Chicken is simple, easy, authentic and you can make it in a breeze so it is definitely a keeper!!
  • Don’t have the much talked about “Garam masala” handy? No worries I will show you how to cheat without compromising on the taste by making a quick bouquet garni using ingredients that are easily available in your pantry.
  • No more monitoring the dish in front of the stove top, Instant Pot makes it quite hands-free.
  • You can make huge batches of this sauce and then freeze it in Ziploc so you can make it whenever you want.
  • Whereas traditional butter chicken can take hours, Instant pot butter chicken takes only 55 minutes. Unbelievable right? Plus the chicken comes out tender and juicier .

You can even make this a complete meal by putting rice on a trivet and doing a pot in pot method. This way you can have steaming rice ready to eat with the butter chicken.


HOW TO MAKE INSTANT POT BUTTER CHICKEN– STEP BY STEP RECIPE

Ingredients for sauce

  • 7 to 8 medium tomatoes pureed (or 1- 15 oz. tomato sauce/puree can)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder/ cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • 1 green chili slit
  • 1 medium onion, pureed
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ¼ cup roasted cashews, ground into powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Salt to taste

For Marinade you will need:

  • 2 lbs chicken thigh, boneless, skinless, cut in 2-inch
  • ¼ cup full fat thick Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Red chili powder or to taste
  • Salt to taste

After pressure cooking, you will need:

  • ½ teaspoon dry fenugreek leaves
  • 1-inch ginger,  julienned
  • Pinch of garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon cilantro, finely chopped for garnishing

Don’t have Garam Masala? No worries, make this pouch/ bouquet garni with everyday whole spices :

  • Dry whole spices like (1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, seeds, 2 bay leaves, 8 whole green cardamoms, 1inch cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorn, 4-5 cloves, 1 large black cardamom (optional))
  • Cheesecloth
  • Kitchen string\

Step1: Marinate Chicken: In a large mixing bowl add yogurt, lime juice, oil, red chili powder, turmeric powder, and salt. Combine everything to make a smooth marinade paste.  Add chicken cubes to the marinade and coat well. Cover and refrigerator for at least 30 min to marinate. You can even do this overnight to save time last minute.

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Step2:  Thread the marinated Chicken cubes: Thread the marinated chicken to oven safe metal skewers. Make sure to leave spaces between the chicken cubes for them to grill evenly from all sides. broil it for 5 minutes until slightly golden brown. Remove the chicken and let it cool.

Step3: Cook ginger garlic paste, spices and onion paste: Plug in the Instant Pot and select Sauté mode and adjust to “More” setting. Allow the cooking pot to fully heat. Add oil and butter to the Instant pot/ Pressure cooker once it says “Hot” on the screen. Add ginger garlic paste. Cook it well until all the raw flavor of the ginger-garlic paste disappears and it turns slightly brown in color. Now add red chili powder, and turmeric powder and slit green chilies and combine. Add onion paste and salt and cook until golden brown.

Step4: Add tomato puree: Now add the tomato puree and combine, cover with a glass lid and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Open the lid and add garam masala, cashew powder and honey. Also, add the whipping cream and combine everything.

Step5: Add spice pouch if you don’t have Garam Masala: Make a bouquet garni/ spice pouch by tying all the whole spice ingredients in cheesecloth with kitchen string. Add this bouquet garni/ spice pouch to the sauce at this time. Remember this spice pouch is an alternative to garam masala. You don’t need to add this pouch if you have garam masala handy.

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Step6: Add chicken and cook: Finally add the juicy, grilled chicken cubes to the sauce/ gravy and combine.

Step7: Set the Instant pot: Place the lid on the Instant Pot and lock it, switch the “Steam release handle” to Sealing/Close. Now press the “Pressure cook/Manual” function on the control panel. Adjust the time using the “+ or -” key and select 4 minutes of cooking time. Select the “High Pressure” setting. Once you select the time, wait till it says “ON” on the screen. Now the pressure will build (pressure will build in approx. 10 mins)  and once the pressure builds, the timer will start counting down from 4 minutes to 0 minutes. Once the timer reaches 0, the Instant Pot will automatically switch to “Keep Warm”. Allow a 10-minute Natural Pressure Release, which means let the pressure release naturally. After 10 minutes do a Quick Pressure Release (QPR), which means after 10 minutes manually release the pressure. The pressure will release rapidly and in a minute or two, you will be able to open the lid.

Step8: Open the lid : When you open the lid you will see a nice thick, smooth, orangish buttery gravy bubbling away. The chicken will look juicier and the whole thing should blend in well.

Step9: Discard bouquet garni/ spice pouch (if using) : If you have added the bouquet garni/ spice pouch you can remove it at this time and discard it. Remember this spice pouch is an alternative to garam masala. You don’t need to add this pouch if you have garam masala handy.

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Step10: Add fenugreek leaves and ginger: Press the cancel button on Instant pot to come out of the warm mode, then press the Sauté button. Crush fenugreek leaves between your palm and add to the curry. Sprinkle a pinch or two of garam masala to enhance the flavor. Finally, add the ginger julienne and let it simmer for 1 minute.

Step11: Serve: Press the cancel button on Instant Pot. Sprinkle cilantro and serve chicken tikka masala along with basmati rice or with roti (tortilla) or buttery naan (Indian bread)

This Instant pot recipe is as authentic as you can make it in the Instant Pot. Grilling the Chicken in the oven seals the chicken juices and gives it a nice tandoori style smoky flavor. I came up with this recipe after a few trials and errors and I must say I am quite satisfied with it now. Many of my neighbors and friends have tried it and love it. I am positive that it will soon become your family favorite as well. Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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Instant Pot Butter Chicken Recipe

Butter Chicken is a delicately spiced deliciously creamy curry, cooked with chunky pieces of grilled chicken. In this, the chicken pieces are lightly marinated with yogurt and spices to enhance its flavors and then grilled before being added to the creamy mouthwatering tomatoey sauce.
Course dinner, lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Keyword Chicken Makhanwala, Dhaba Style Butter Chicken, Instant pot butter chicken, Instant pot recipes, Instant pot restaurant-style butter chicken, Murgh Makhni
Prep Time 10 minutes
5 mins broil + 10 mins Saute time + 10 mins pressure building + 4 mins pressure cook time + 10 mins NPR 41 minutes
Total Time 51 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 762kcal
Author Jyoti Sawant

Ingredients

Ingredients for Sauce

  • 7 to 8 medium tomatoes pureed (or 1- 15 oz. tomato sauce/puree can)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 small green chili slit
  • 1 medium onion, pureed
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp salt

For Marinade you will need

  • 1/4 cup full fat thick Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp Red chili powder or to taste
  • 1 tsp salt

After Pressure cooking, you will need

  • 1/2 tsp dry fenugreek leaves
  • 1 inch ginger, julienned
  • 1-2 pinch garam masala
  • 1 tsp cilantro, finely chopped for garnishing

Don’t have Garam Masala? No worries, make this Whole spice pouch/ bouquet garni

  • 1 pouch Dry whole spices like (1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, seeds, 2 bay leaves, 8 whole green cardamoms, 1inch cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorn, 4-5 cloves, 1 large black cardamom (optional)
  • 1 Cheesecloth
  • 1 Kitchen string

Instructions

  • Step1: Marinate Chicken: 
    In a large mixing bowl add yogurt, lime juice, oil, red chili powder, turmeric powder, and salt. Combine everything to make a smooth marinade paste. Add chicken cubes to the marinade and coat well. Cover and refrigerator for at least 30 min to marinate. You can even do this overnight to save time last minute.
    Step2: Thread the marinated Chicken cubes:
    Thread the marinated chicken to oven safe metal skewers. Make sure to leave spaces between the chicken cubes for them to grill evenly from all sides. broil it for 5 minutes until slightly golden brown. Remove the chicken and let it cool.
    Step3: Cook ginger garlic paste, spices and onion paste:
    Plug in the Instant Pot and select Sauté mode and adjust to “More” setting. Allow the cooking pot to fully heat. Add oil and butter to the Instant pot/ Pressure cooker once it says “Hot” on the screen. Add ginger garlic paste. Cook it well until all the raw flavor of the ginger-garlic paste disappears and it turns slightly brown in color. Now add red chili powder, and turmeric powder and slit green chilies and combine. Add onion paste and salt and cook until golden brown.
    Step4: Add tomato puree: 
    Now add the tomato puree and combine, cover with a glass lid and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Open the lid and add garam masala, cashew powder and honey. Also, add the whipping cream and combine everything.
    Step5: Add spice pouch if you don’t have Garam Masala:
    Make a bouquet garni/ spice pouch by tying all the whole spice ingredients in cheesecloth with kitchen string. Add this bouquet garni/ spice pouch to the sauce at this time. Remember this spice pouch is an alternative to garam masala. You don’t need to add this pouch if you have garam masala handy.
    Step6: Add chicken and cook: 
    Finally add the juicy, grilled chicken cubes to the sauce/ gravy and combine.
    Step7: Set the Instant pot:
    Place the lid on the Instant Pot and lock it, switch the “Steam release handle” to Sealing/Close. Now press the “Pressure cook/Manual” function on the control panel. Adjust the time using the “+ or -” key and select 4 minutes of cooking time. Select the “High Pressure” setting. Once you select the time, wait till it says “ON” on the screen. Now the pressure will build (pressure will build in approx. 10 mins) and once the pressure builds, the timer will start counting down from 4 minutes to 0 minutes. Once the timer reaches 0, the Instant Pot will automatically switch to “Keep Warm”.  Allow a 10-minute Natural Pressure Release, which means let the pressure release naturally. After 10 minutes do a Quick Pressure Release (QPR), which means after 10 minutes manually release the pressure. The pressure will release rapidly and in a minute or two, you will be able to open the lid.
    Step8: Open the lid :
    When you open the lid you will see a nice thick, smooth, orangish buttery gravy bubbling away. The chicken will look juicier and the whole thing should blend in well.
    Step9: Discard bouquet garni/ spice pouch (if using) :
    If you have added the bouquet garni/ spice pouch you can remove it at this time and discard it. Remember this spice pouch is an alternative to garam masala. You don’t need to add this pouch if you have garam masala handy.
    Step10: Add fenugreek leaves and ginger:
    Press the cancel button on Instant pot to come out of the warm mode, then press the Sauté button. Crush fenugreek leaves between your palm and add to the curry. Sprinkle a pinch or two of garam masala to enhance the flavor. Finally, add the ginger julienne and let it simmer for 1 minute.
    Step11: Serve:
    Press the cancel button on Instant Pot. Sprinkle cilantro and serve chicken tikka masala along with basmati rice or with roti (tortilla) or buttery naan (Indian bread)

Notes

  • It is crucial to use chicken thigh to make moist chicken tikka masala.
  • To make a ginger-garlic paste, just mince fresh ginger and garlic for best results. To save time you could use the store bought ginger-garlic paste easily available in the grocery stores
  • If you have a nut allergy, omit the cashews, instead add 2 tablespoon of seasame paste as a substitute.

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