I’ve made a Makhani-style curry, Makhani being a Hindustani word meaning “with butter”. Makhani is used in many Punjabi dishes, one familiar dish being the popular Butter Chicken. There are many variations which include paneer (a cheese common in South Asia) or lentils and beans. Although the word Makhani makes reference to butter, butter is not a major ingredient of the recipe, as the curry is usually made up of pureed tomatoes, ginger, garlic, red chili powder and cream.


Serves: 4

Time: 50 minutes

Difficulty: Easy


    • 2 tbsp butter or ghee
    • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs,  cut into 2 inch cubes
    • 5 green cardamom pods, seeds removed
    • 4 bay leaves
    • 4 cloves
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 3 tbsp whole coriander seeds
    • 1½ tbsp whole cumin seeds
    • 2 tbsp tomato paste
    • 1 tsp nutmeg
    • several dried chilis (you can use hot chili powder and the mild Kashmiri chili powder which imparts more color than the heat.
    • 2 large onions, chopped
    • 3 tbsp garlic and ginger paste (you can buy these separately to control better the qualities of garlic versus ginger)
    • 5 large tomatoes, chopped
    • sea salt, to taste
  • fresh coriander (to garnish)
  • 240g basmati rice, steamed in 350 ml vegetable stock with 2 bay leaves, a cinnamon stick, 2 cardamom pods, 4 cloves and mixed with a knob of butter once cooked


    1. Start by toasting the coriander and cumin seeds in a dry pan. Toast until lightly toasted and very fragrant. Grind with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Set aside.
    1. Heat the butter or ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan over a medium-heat, and add the cardamom, bay leaves, cloves, cinnamon sticks and chilli until they start to crackle and release their flavors. Add the onion and sauté for about 5-7 minutes, or until the onions begin to caramelize slightly, then add the ginger and garlic pastes, followed by the freshly ground coriander and cumin powders.
  1. Add in the chopped tomatoes, the tomato paste and the chicken. Turn the heat to high. Allow the curry to cook on high heat for about 15 minutes or so and leave to simmer for another 10 minutes on medium heat. The chicken should be juicy and tender – but not pink, so be sure to check before serving. Garnish it with fresh coriander, and serve with steamed basmati rice and/or naan.