We truly enjoy writing about the amazing work of the co-ops we partner with and showcasing the quality items they create.  As I learn more about JOYN and the work they do in India, I find myself wanting to eat Indian food – YUM! Nothing unlocks the history of a culture like food.  You can learn how certain spices were introduced to the country, why specific ingredients are used in particular parts of a country and how a dish evolves through family traditions and historical events.  I think I was in middle school the first time I ate Indian food and butter chicken was the dish I had.

Butter chicken, or murgh makhani, is a staple in India and available throughout the country.  It was first introduced in Daryaganj, Dehli by a restaurant called Moti Mahal.  The chicken is typically cooked in a clay oven, or tandoor, marinated with garam masala, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin and tumeric. Served along with rice and naan, this dish varies in India from family to family and it’s a great introduction to Indian food if you are a first-timer. I’ve made a lot of butter chicken, and this recipe by Jennifer Pallian at Foodess.com is my absolute favorite!

Author: Jennifer Pallian at foodess.com
Prep time:  15 mins
Cook time:  35 mins
Total time:  50 mins
Serves: 6 servings


For chicken & marinade:

  • 2.2 lbs (1 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in 1″ – 2″ cubes
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

For sauce:

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 ½ cups chopped onion (about 2 medium-large)
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp garam masala
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 2 cups diced no-salt-added canned tomatoes
  • ¾ cup cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Chopped cilantro, to garnish (optional)


For marinade:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a zip-top bag or shallow baking dish, massaging the marinade into the chicken. Let stand at room temperature while you prepare the sauce, or marinate in the fridge overnight.

For sauce:

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or dutch oven. Add onions and slowly cook until golden, about 20 minutes, reducing heat if they are getting crispy or browning quickly.
  2. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in garam masala, paprika, cinnamon and salt; cook 1 minute more. Add tomatoes; cook 2 minutes, then add cream and carefully puree using an immersion blender (or standing blender, but do it in batches or the steam will blow the top off).
  3. Return sauce to saucepan and bring to a simmer. Add chicken to the sauce, cover, and simmer over medium-low heat until cooked through, about 12 minutes (remove a couple of pieces to make sure they are no longer pink inside). A gentle simmer is required to gently cook the breasts so they don’t become tough, and you don’t want to overcook them.

Stir in butter, taste and add more salt to taste. Serve sprinkled with cilantro, if desired.