Butter chicken, raita and pilaf

Butter chicken, raita and pilaf

This butter chicken reminds me of a time I cooked for three excellent gentlemen (you know who you are). Prior to this curry’s consumption, the four of us went on an excursion for garlic naan to serve with it. During the half-hour round trip, two of us attempted to drink a Pump bottle of 50/50 gin and soda. I certainly can’t remember actually eating this meal on that particular night, but I think it was a crowd pleaser. I have had this butter chicken since and I can confirm that it is amazing and worth the effort. Make it the day before for optimum excellence in flavour.

This recipe is from one of my all-time most-loved, and most-used, cookbooks, Ripe Recipes by Angela Redfern.


Serves 4

Chicken Marinade:
  • 500g of chicken breast, thigh or tenderloin, cut into decent sized chunks
  • ½ cup of plain unsweetened yoghurt
  • 2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger
    v6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoons garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon of chilli powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 teaspoon of oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 50g of cashew nuts, toasted in a dry frying pan until slightly brown
  • ¼ cup of oil
  • 1 teaspoon of garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon of hot chilli powder
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed open
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 100g of tomato paste
  • 100ml of cream (I used light cream)
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons of white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • Tonnes of fresh coriander to serve

  • 1 1/2 cups of basmati rice
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 50g of butter
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds
  • 1 cup of mixed dried fruit (I used sultanas and chopped dried apricots)
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Handful of fresh mint leaves, torn, to serve
  • Pepper to taste

  • ½ a cucumber, halved and deseeded, grated
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 1 cup of plain, unsweetened yoghurt
  • ¼ fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Chicken and sauce method

  1. In a snap lock bag or bowl, mix together the chicken and the other marinade ingredients and allow to rest for at least an hour but preferably overnight or for all day.
  2. Once the chicken has been sufficiently marinated, heat up a large frying pan with a good splash of oil to a medium-high heat. Place the pieces of chicken in the pan so they are well spaced out. You may need to cook the chicken in a couple of batches. Fry until well browned on all sides. Leave to one side.
  3. Wipe/scrub the pan clean and heat it up again to a medium-high heat. Sauté the onions in the teaspoon of oil until soft and translucent. Set aside to cool for a few minutes. In a small food processor or mortar and pestle, grind together the cooked onions and cashews to form a paste.
  4. Heat up the frying pan again but this time with the ¼ cup of oil over a medium-to-low heat. Add the garam masala, chilli powder, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cloves and tomato paste and fry gently for a few minutes until their flavours have been released. Stir in the cashew and onion paste. Add in the chicken pieces, cream and chicken stock. Bring up to a simmer.
  5. You can either transfer the butter chicken to a slow cooker and cook on high for three hours (adding a bit more water half way through) or leave it to simmer away on the stovetop for an hour.

Pilaf method

In a large saucepan, sauté the onions in the butter over a medium heat. Add in the cardamon pods, cinnamon stick, cumin seeds, salt and dried fruit and toast for a minute before adding the rice. Cook the rice and stir about the pan for another two minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Cover the rice with a lid and leave to simmer for 10 minutes before removing from the heat and leaving to steam itself for another 15 minutes. Fluff the rice up with a fork and toss in the chopped mint leaves before serving

Raita Method

Sprinkle the salt over the grated cucumber and leave to sit for ten minutes. Rinse the cucumber under cold water to remove the salt then squeeze out excess moisture gently with your hands. Mix this cucumber together with the mint leaves and yoghurt. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve everything up along with a good chunk of garlic naan and you are sure to have a winner!! I personally can't wait to make this again.
This article first appeared in Issue 24, 2014.
Posted 3:00pm Sunday 21st September 2014 by Sophie Edmonds.