Butter Chicken is a known North Indian dish. As a South Indian/Malayalee cook, though, I had to wonder what would happen if I put a spin on it using flavors I grew up using. With ingredients like coconut, cardamom, and, my favorite spice blend, meat masala, this dish might be a new favorite. It’s like a cross between Butter Chicken and Ghee Roast Chicken. My childhood didn’t consist of dishes like homestyle Butter Chicken, but I’ve had it at restaurants. Yes, this lone experience doesn’t give this or any recipe justice. After all, nothing beats the taste of a homestyle meal. In any case, I hope you find familiarity in the taste of this “Mallu Butter Chicken” recipe as you cook it.
One note about my meat masala spice blend. The flavor that comes with roasting and grinding spices fresh is worth it. My blend for meat masala varies, but refer to the recipe notes under my beef ularthiyathu recipe for how to make it.
As I made the sauce and layered on its flavor, I was reminded by something my mom always said. “If you’re going to cook, cook with love because people taste when you’re in an off mood.” I keep this in mind especially when I cook recipes that require a little extra time.
As always, if you have any questions about my recipes, cooking tips, or anything reach out to me on Instagram @thefamiliarkitchen. Tag me to show me how this Mallu Butter Chicken recipe turned out for you! P.S. you should totally try this with a side of my Kerala Fried Rice!
"Mallu" Butter Chicken
- Chicken Thighs, 5-6 pieces (roughly 4lbs)
- Coconut oil, 4 tbsp (for frying chicken)
- Ghee, 3 tbsp
- Black Mustard Seeds, 2 tsp
- Cumin Seeds, 1 tsp
- Green Cardamom, 5-6 pods
- Black Cardamom Pod, 1
- Cinnamon Stick, 1
- Star Anise, 1
- Curry Leaves, 2 sprigs
- Onions, 1, thinly sliced
- Ginger, 2”, minced
- Garlic, 6, minced
- Tomatoes, 3, quartered
- Cherry Tomatoes, 5-6
- Coconut Milk, 1 cup
- Meat Masala*, 1 tbsp
- Red Chili Powder, 1 tbsp
- Crushed Methi/Fenugreek Leaves, 1 tbsp
- Amchur (dry mango powder), 1 tbsp
- Salt, 2-3 tsp
Marinate the chicken.
- I love to use chicken thighs as its a more tender piece of meat, but you can use boneless chicken breast, too. I trim the excess fat of the chicken and then clean with water and lemon juice then pat it completely dry. Cut the chicken in bite-size chunks. Add all of the marinade ingredients to a bowl and mix thoroughly. Wrap the bowl in plastic or aluminium and then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Roast the chicken.
- After the chicken has marinated, it's time to roast/pan-fry the meat. In a deep skillet on medium-high heat, add the coconut oil. Once the oil is hot, pan-fry the chicken. Remove the chicken from the pan so we can make our sauce base next.
Make the sauce.
- In the same deep skillet on medium-high heat, add the ghee. the ghee is hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, green and black cardamom, cinnamon stick, star anise, and curry leaves. Once the mustard seeds pop and curry leaves start to curl, add in the onions. Saute the onions/constantly mix in the pan until they become lightly golden in color. *TIP: Add a 1/2 tsp of salt and sugar to help sweat out the onions. Once the onions are lightly golden, saute the garlic and ginger until the rawness of each goes away. As soon as the ginger and garlic are done cooking, mix in all the remaining ingredients and reduce the heat the medium and let simmer for about 10 minutes. Once the tomatoes have softened, add about 1/2 cup of water to the pan and use an immersion blender to puree the tomatoes. (If you do not have an immersion blender, wait until the sauce completely cools and then use a blender to puree the sauce).
Combine it all.
- Once the sauce is pureed, add the roasted chicken to the pan and pour over the sauce. Cook this for a few minutes to let the chicken cook in with the sauce. Check for salt and done! Optionally add cilantro on top for garnish.