“Butter” “Chicken”

by Chance on December 1, 2015

I recently had an epiphany. You know what keeps me from posting more? Perfectionism. I like to type it, add photos, re-read it, re-read it again, preview it… you get the picture. It’s really all part of trying to be perfect though. That’s what has kept me from posting for MORE THAN A YEAR. I don’t have time for that quest for perfection any more. The real deal is that I’m not perfect (don’t tell my wife I admitted that) and my kitchen certainly isn’t perfect. I don’t really care about presentation. I don’t “plate” my foods and I don’t garnish it with sprigs of parsley. I suspect you don’t do that either. I care a lot more about how it tastes. So, for my readers, here is my promise. I promise that if you make the things on this blog, they will taste good. Of course taste is subjective, but I’m going to have to draw the line there. I guess I should say that I promise that it tasted good to us! If I post it here, it means I’ve made it enough times that I feel like if you follow my instructions, yours will come out pretty close to mine. I will do my best to include some good photos (which is a lot easier now that I have an iphone) because when my camera was on the fritz, I didn’t want to post crappy pictures (another thing that was not perfect).

Moving on, this recipe has been in my queue for over a year. Sigh. One of my friends asked me to post it when I kept talking about it, so I did get it written up and then it languished. Why am I posting it today? I tried to make it today and I couldn’t find my paper recipe card and I kinda messed it up. It turns out if you add the coconut milk without the tomatoes, it gets kind of gluey. And then you have to add more coconut milk. And some water too. It also turns out it still tastes pretty good and we’re going to eat it anyway! So, I logged on here to get the “real” recipe that I knew I had typed up. Then I got delayed by an hour because someone had suggested I make it so that you could print the recipes and I didn’t know how to do that. Figured it out! So, here goes with the original post:

You may wonder at my liberal use of quotes above. Well, this is an Indian dish and it usually starts with butter and it usually includes chicken. Essentially, it’s a delicious sauce and you can put whatever you like into it, as well as make it without butter. At my house though, I don’t know why, we still prefer to call it “Butter” “Chicken”. You can hear the quotes when we say it. :)

We recently (Well, I wrote this post over a year ago.) traveled to Hawaii, which was a huge adventure. I was reminded of this recipe during our time in Hilo, where we enjoyed several meals at a local Indian restaurant that catered to vegans, Prabha’s. They had a version of “Butter” “Chicken” that used pressed tofu instead of chicken. It was delicious, so if you cook with tofu, that is a good option.

This dish cooks up quickly, is easy to scale up (or down, I suppose), and lends itself to the addition of pre-cooked items making it a great way to use up leftover veggies (and meats, I’m sure). You will get a slow-simmered taste, even though the recipe only takes about 30 minutes to make. I always make a large batch and refrigerate the rest for later in the week and I think it would also freeze well. The only thing to note here is that if you like to eat sauces cold from the fridge, choose an oil other than coconut, because it will solidify and require re-heating.

Traditionally, you would simmer your chicken bits in the sauce until they were cooked through. I have made this dish and used Quorn tenders (ok for us), goat-milk farmer’s cheese (like a goat’s milk paneer), and mixed veggies like broccoli and cauliflower. It’s delicious spooned over cauliflower rice (recipe here) or regular rice as well. Because it’s spiced, but not spicy-hot, we enjoy this dish year-round.

“Butter” “Chicken”
Yield – enough for 4-6 servings
**Before you begin this recipe, make sure your tomatoes and coconut milk are ready to go because once the spices are toasted, they will quickly burn if you do not have the liquids ready.
1 28-oz can fire roasted tomatoes (I use this brand), pureed
1 14-oz can full fat coconut milk, brand of your choice
4-6 T coconut oil, melted (or other fat of your choice including butter, ghee or olive)
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 grinds fresh white or black pepper
Toast the above spices in the oil for about one minute over medium high heat.

1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp coriander powder (I grind mine fresh and then sift it to get out the large, husky parts)
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt (you can add more later, but this is a good baseline)
1 tsp ginger powder
2 tsp cinnamon
Add the above spices and toast them in the oil, stirring constantly, for about one minute.

Once they are toasted, add the tomato puree and the coconut milk. Stir gently but thoroughly to mix in all the spices. Leave the lid off and let it simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring every once in a while. This will reduce the sauce somewhat and thicken it slightly. You can control the thickness of the sauce by how long you allow it to simmer.

2 T honey
Add the honey once the sauce has reached your desired thickness. Taste for salt and add to taste. At this point, you can dish up the sauce or add veggies to it to cook in the sauce. If you opt for cooking veggies in the sauce, let it get slightly thicker than you want the end result as the veggies will release a little bit of water and thin the sauce slightly.


5.0 from 1 reviews
"Butter" "Chicken"
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
"Butter" "Chicken" is an easy Indian stew that can serve as a main dish.
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1 28 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 14 ounce can of full fat coconut milk
  • 4-6 T coconut oil
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • 2 grinds of white or black pepper
  • 1½ tsp garam masala
  • 1½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp chili powder
  • 1+ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2T honey
  1. **Open and prepare your tomatoes and coconut milk BEFORE toasting the spices or they will burn.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a large, heavy bottomed pan.
  3. Add the cardamom, cloves and pepper and toast the spices for 30 seconds - 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the remaining spices and toast for one minute, stirring constantly.
  5. Add the tomato puree and coconut milk and stir to mix in the oil/spice blend.
  6. Simmer for 10-15 minutes uncovered to slightly thicken.
  7. (Add any veggies you like before simmering. They will cook in the sauce.)
  8. Add 2T honey or more to taste. Mix well.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul December 2, 2015 at 4:40 pm

Great to see this blog come alive again!


Julianne December 13, 2015 at 10:35 pm

This dish was exactly what I needed to make with my ingredients on hand! I used quorn “chicken” pieces, added some minced fresh ginger (about 2 tbsp? a good size chunk) as well as a head of garlic, minced. I cooked that, added the spices and finished the recipe. It went quickly, we had it over basmati rice, and it was delicious. I plan on adding chunks of paneer instead of quorn next time. Thank you so much!


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