Butter Chicken
By :The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook by Archana Mundhe
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Butter chicken, also known as chicken makhani, is more like a treat than an entrée—and quite possibly the most popular dish at any Indian restaurant. This heavenly, creamy curry highlights the robust flavors of Kashmiri chile, dried fenugreek leaves, and garam masala. Served with classic basmati rice and naan, this dish evokes excitement on any menu.

Garam masala literally translates to “warm spice mix,” and it is the quintessential Indian spice blend. It gives warmth and depth to dishes and pairs perfectly with red or green chile for a hearty, aromatic flavor. Every region (and family) across India has its own version. My mom’s recipe calls for twenty-one whole roasted spices, some of which are hard to find, and it takes days to make. Here is a simplified version with a similar authentic flavor.
Votes: 10
Rating: 4.8
Rate this recipe!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Difficulty Medium
Duration 30-60 min
Cooking Technique Pressure Cook, Sauté
Main Ingredient Basmati Rice, Chicken, Garam Masala, Onion
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
4 -6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 large yellow onion finely diced
  • 2 lbs chicken thighs boneless, skinless, halved and patted dry
  • 1 cup tomatoe puree canned
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1 tbsp Ginger fresh, grated
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • 2 tsp kashmiri red chile powder or another mild red chile powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric ground
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream canned (see notes)
  • 2 tbsp tomatoe paste
  • 2 tbsp fenugreek leaves dried
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup cilantro fresh
  • 1 tsp garam masala (recipe below)
Garam masala
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp cloves
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon sticks crushed
  • 2-5 green cardamom pods (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 tbsp black cumin seed or cumin seeds
Rice
  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 1 1/2 cups Water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Difficulty Medium
Duration 30-60 min
Cooking Technique Pressure Cook, Sauté
Main Ingredient Basmati Rice, Chicken, Garam Masala, Onion
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
4 -6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 large yellow onion finely diced
  • 2 lbs chicken thighs boneless, skinless, halved and patted dry
  • 1 cup tomatoe puree canned
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1 tbsp Ginger fresh, grated
  • 1 tbsp garlic minced
  • 2 tsp kashmiri red chile powder or another mild red chile powder
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric ground
  • 1/2 cup coconut cream canned (see notes)
  • 2 tbsp tomatoe paste
  • 2 tbsp fenugreek leaves dried
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup cilantro fresh
  • 1 tsp garam masala (recipe below)
Garam masala
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp cloves
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon sticks crushed
  • 2-5 green cardamom pods (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 tbsp black cumin seed or cumin seeds
Rice
  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • 1 1/2 cups Water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
Votes: 10
Rating: 4.8
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Garam masala
  1. Select the normal Sauté setting on the Instant Pot. Lightly toast each spice, one at a time, by adding it to the pot and stirring continuously until aromatic, about 1 minute each. Make sure not to burn them. The goal is to remove any residual moisture so they are easy to grind.
  2. As the spices are toasted, transfer them to a plate and let cool completely. Grind the spices in a spice grinder to make a fine powder.
  3. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight for up to 6 months.
Butter chicken
  1. Select the high Sauté setting on the Instant Pot and heat the ghee. Add the onion and cook until translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Press the Cancel button to turn off the Instant Pot. Add the chicken, tomato puree, water, ginger, garlic, chile powder, salt, garam masala, and turmeric and stir to combine.
  2. To make the rice: In a 1 1/2-quart stainless-steel bowl that will fit in the Instant Pot, stir together the rice, water, and salt. Place a tall steam rack in the pot, making sure its legs are resting on the bottom. Place the bowl of rice on the rack.
  3. Secure the lid and set the Pressure Release to Sealing. Select the Pressure Cook or Manual setting and set the cooking time for 5 minutes at high pressure.
  4. Let the pressure release naturally for 5 minutes, then move the Pressure Release to Venting to release any remaining steam. Open the pot. Using heat-resistant mitts, place the bowl of rice on a trivet and remove the tall steam rack. Add to the pot the coconut cream, tomato paste, fenugreek, and sugar and stir to combine. Select the high Sauté setting and cook until the curry comes to a boil and is heated through, about 2 minutes. Press the Cancel button to turn off the Instant Pot.
  5. Spoon the rice onto plates and ladle the curry over the top. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.
Recipe Notes

NOTE The unsweetened coconut cream used in the recipe (not to be confused with the sweetened coconut cream used primarily in cocktails) can be found canned in grocery stores. It
can be replaced with the cream from a can of regular full-fat coconut milk. Put the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 hours or in the freezer for 5 minutes to separate the
cream from the water, then open the can and scoop off the cream from the top of the coconut water.

12 replies
  1. Bex77
    Bex77 says:

    Really easy to make and very tasty. I have made this to add to my freezer too. One point is that on step 4 if you’re not using the instant pot to cook the rice it isn’t very clear that you need to add the coconut etc to the chicken not the rice!!!

  2. CathyRussell
    CathyRussell says:

    So good, also one of the first instant pot recipes i tried. Easy to make and my picky eater even loved it.

  3. drmeows
    drmeows says:

    This was my 2nd instant pot recipe ever and a definite winner! Very balanced flavor, which is always my complaint when I try to cook Indian food.
    Being new to instant pot, I found the instructions confusing since I didn’t want to make the rice in the pot with the butter chicken. After reading it over and over, I decided to skip #2 and proceed. That worked! Whew!
    When in make it again I will add less salt. (Cutting down to 1 or 1.5tsp)

  4. Ironweaver
    Ironweaver says:

    Oh. Wow.
    Just straightforward, delicious. Throw it together and… Did i mention how lovely the house smells?

  5. MamaBearPawsKitchen
    MamaBearPawsKitchen says:

    I’m confused. Do I cook the rice in a pot that I put in the instant pot that has the chicken cooking in?

  6. Ally B
    Ally B says:

    Unfortunately, the IP stopped high pressure cooking saying “burnt” (and it was burnt) and the rice remained pretty much uncooked in the pot inside the pot.
    But other than that, the chicken was simply delicious!
    I will add more water next time.

  7. Instant Pot
    Instant Pot says:

    Hi MamaBearPawsKitchen,

    The cooking method is called pot-in-pot, using a steam rack above the butter chicken sauce, place an oven-safe dish that fits in the inner pot on the steam rack. This allows you to cook both the butter chick and rice at once.

  8. Instant Pot
    Instant Pot says:

    Hi Cmueller154,

    Thank you for your feedback.

    If you could provide us more information to where in the recipe it is unclear; we can help clarify it.

    To understand where in the recipe you are experiencing difficulty please provide us more information

  9. Teegeeley
    Teegeeley says:

    Good but lots of tomato taste. I will double the garam masala and spices next time.

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