aThis is my recipe for butter chicken.

The Ingredients

  • For Slow Cooking The Chicken
  • ...........................................
  • Set Slow Cooker to High and preheat for at least twenty minutes.
  • 1 free-range chicken weighing approximately 1.910 kilograms (4 lbs 4 ounces)
  • 175 grams salted butter slightly softened
  • 1 rounded teaspoon of rock salt or natural salt flakes or half a level teaspoon of table salt
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed/pasted using the back of a kitchen knife or a garlic crusher
  • 2 unwaxed lemons cut into quarters
  • ...........................................
  • For The Sauce
  • ............................................
  • Set Oven Temperature to 160 o C
  • 2-3 tablespoons of groundnut oil or hemp oil
  • 4 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 12 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed and chopped
  • 2 x 400 gram tins of coconut milk - full fat please, but if you really must, you can get a good reduced fat coconut milk from Marks & Spencers .
  • 2 x 400 gram tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 12 cardamon pods
  • 4 inches of fresh ginger grated
  • 3/4 teaspoon fenugreek powder
  • 3 rounded teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 rounded teaspoons ground corinader
  • 2 1/2 to 3 level teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 4 rounded teaspoons ground cumin
  • 15 grinds of Jamie Oliver's Thyme, Lemon & Bay Salt Seasoning (see pic) or 3 bay leaves, a level teaspoon of thyme & half teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 10 grinds of black pepper
  • 1/2 dessert spoon runny honey
  • 100 grams salted butter
  • Approximately 170 mls fresh double cream
  • 3 approximately 110 mls size ladles of the lemony, garlicky, salty juices which have come from chicken during the slow cooking process

As promised to quite a few, but especially my nephew Tom, this is my Butter Chicken curry recipe. I have been making Butter Chicken for a couple of years now and this recipe is entirely mine – I have tweaked it repeatedly & am very happy with the result. Please don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients or the fact that I am asking you to cook the chicken and the sauce separately before combining at the end. This method will give you a very tender, juicy chicken to use in your sauce and builds layer upon layer of flavouring, which adds a real depth to your dish.

I know this sounds a little bit (or even a big bit) bossy, but please try not to deviate from my instructions, at least not the first time you use them, as this is the best way I can guarantee the recipe will deliver on the full bodied flavour and texture front.

It’s helpful to bear in mind, that I slow cook both the chicken and the sauce each for about three – four hours, the chicken in a slow cooker and the sauce in the oven, so both can be cooking more or less at the same time and therefore be ready more or less at the same time, with a little convenient leeway before combining.


Start by preheating your slow cooker on the high setting for at least twenty minutes & your oven to 140 oC and start to prepare the chicken. Take the slightly softened butter and using your hands, squish into it the six peeled, crushed garlic cloves and the salt. Slather this squished butter mixture generously over the body of the chicken and pop it into the preheated slow cooker. Cut up the two lemons into quarters and arrange them around the chicken. Leaving the slow cooking setting on high, put on the lid & forget about it for at least three hours, while you begin to prepare and cook the Butter Chicken sauce. If you don’t have a slow cooker you can cook your chicken in a slow conventional oven for about three hours at 160o C (fan oven 140o C) or simply roast your chicken in the normal fashion which will also work just fine.

Heat the groundnut or hemp oil in a properly large frying pan or large hob safe casserole dish (that has a lid) and fry the onions and garlic on a low to medium heat for about 5-10 minutes until becoming very soft. Add the garam masala, fenugreek, turmeric, coriander, paprika & cumin and lightly crushed cardamon pods to the pan with the onions and garlic continue to fry gently for no more than two minutes, stirring frequently & watching very carefully that they don’t catch. Immediately add the chopped tomatoes and fry gently for another five minutes.

Take off the heat and tip into a large casserole dish (preferably cast iron). Add the grated ginger, the 15 grinds of Jamie Oliver’s Thyme, Lemon & Bay salt or… the dried thyme, bay leaves & finely grated lemon zest & the black pepper. Give it all a stir, then add the tins of coconut milk, stir through again to ensure that it is properly amalgamated without any clumpy bits and then add the cinnamon sticks & the half dessert spoon of honey & pop the lid on and transfer to the oven for at least two and a half, but preferably three hours.  When the time is up, take your sauce out of the oven and immediately stir in the butter and when that has melted completely into the sauce, pour in the double cream and stir through. You can at this stage blend the sauce with a hand blender, but I find that the slow cooking process causes the onions and tomatoes to melt into other ingredients, rendering them so lusciously aromatic, that even little ones prone to picking out pieces of nano veg in things, find hard to resist.


After three or four hours have passed take the chicken out of the slow cooker and let it relax for about fifteen minutes, after which you can take off the juicy meat to put into your curry. If you want you can cut the pieces into even slices, although I quite like having some smaller and some larger pieces of chicken in my curry; it gives me an opportunity to serve larger chunks to the adults, while reserving the little pieces for the children (who have mostly sauce anyway).

There will be quite a lot of lemony garlicky salty juice with your chicken in the slow cooker. Don’t throw this away (God forbid!!) but take three approximately 110 mls sized ladles of that juice and add it to the sauce. Don’t worry about it being bitter, because of the amount of dairy produce in the sauce, as well as the additionally sweetening contribution of the onions & honey, the sourness of the slow cooker chicken juices, adds a complimentary savoury element.

And that is my butter chicken curry.  Serve of course, with some lovely rice such as White Basmati or if you are trying to replace refined carbohydrates with more whole grains, try a brand like Tilda’s White & Wholegrain Basmati.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!


P.s  I almost always have a bit of slow cooker juices left, which loathe as I am to throw such precious nectar away, I use to enhance the flavour of many a homemade soup.

P.p.s I feel that Butter Chicken is so meant to be an indulgent dish that the merest suggestion of using low fat ingredients anyway in it, are not at all in the spirit of this culinary delight,….but….if the amount of butter and cream in this meal horrifies you for any reason, I have discovered that Marks and Spencers do a nice reduced fat coconut milk that you could use instead.