The Friday night fakeaway is a thing in our house. Why pay an absolute fortune for a takeaway chicken curry when you can make a better tasting one yourself? This Slow Cooker Butter Chicken recipe (or Murgh Makhani in Hindi) features regularly on our fakeaway recipe list. Read on to learn how to make the perfect crockpot curry!
History of Butter Chicken Curry
Butter Chicken originates from a restaurant in the Punjab region of Northern Pakistan called Moti Mahal. When the owner Kundan Lal Gujral realised that dry pieces of Tandoori chicken would waste quickly with no refrigeration, he added them to a fragrant gravy consisting of spices, butter, yoghurt and tomatoes, cooking them slowly over a low flame.
Butter Chicken was born! It later became popular in Indian restaurants across the world.
Chicken Tikka Masala is a very similar dish but was invented in the UK, for British tastes. The spice mix used in Chicken Tikka Masala is what sets the two dishes apart.
What ingredients are in a Butter Chicken Curry?
This Crock Pot Butter Chicken recipe is made from ingredients you’re likely to have in the cupboard, which means no special shopping trip. The sauce in our version consists of tomato, yoghurt, and coconut milk.
The spices traditionally used in a Butter Chicken Curry are:
- Curry Powder – is a blend of spices, including cumin, tumeric, coriander, mustard powder, cinnamon, cardamom and cayenne pepper.
- Chilli Powder – is another spice blend, consisting of paprika, oregano, cumin, garlic powder and onion powder.
- Garam Masala – yet another spice blend, made with black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, coriander seeds, cloves and bay leaves.
- Tumeric – a bright yellow pungent spice, also used as a dye and in medicine!
- Ginger – a sweet yet warming spice, too much and it’ll get you with its distinctive bite on the back of your throat!
Can I use chicken breasts for Slow Cooker Butter Chicken?
Some people say that you should only use chicken thighs as they are more flavoursome and are less prone to drying out in the crockpot, due to their higher fat content.
Chicken breast will work great, just make sure you reduce the cooking time accordingly (details in the recipe card below).
Do I need a crockpot to make Butter Chicken?
The taste will be better by slow cooking the recipe (and is the traditional way of making Butter Chicken), but if you’re pushed for time it’ll still taste great if you replace the slow cooking with 30 minutes of simmering on a hob.
If you’re using chicken breast, set the chicken aside after searing, and re-add it 10 minutes before the end – this will ensure the chicken stays succulent and doesn’t dry out.
More Delicious Curries
Crockpots are great for making curries. Why not try one of these alternatives?
Can I freeze leftover slow cooker Butter Chicken?
It’ll keep in the freezer for up to three months. You can also keep it in the fridge for up to three days in an airtight container.
Defrost it in the fridge over night, and ensure it’s piping hot all the way through before serving. As is always the way with defrosted meals – Indian Butter Chicken tastes even better second time around as the flavours have had even longer to meld together!
Slow Cooker Butter Chicken (Murgh Makhani)
- 6 chicken thighs
- 2 garlic cloves – crushed
- 1 onion – finely chopped
- 1 tbsp curry powder
- 1 tbsp chilli powder – mild
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tsp tumeric
- 0.5 tsp ground ginger – use fresh ginger if you have it
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 0.5 tsp ground black pepper
- 150 g (5 oz) tomato puree – (a small can)
- 125 ml (0.5 cup) yoghurt – plain
- 250 ml (1 cup) coconut milk – (full fat, not light)
- coriander – roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- In 1 tbsp of olive oil over a medium heat, seal the chicken and transfer to the slow cooker. In the same oil, fry the onions until translucent, and add the crushed garlic, cooking for another minute. Add the onions and garlic to the chicken that's already in the slow cooker.
- In a bowl, mix together the garam masala, tumeric, curry powder, chilli powder, ginger, sugar, salt and pepper. In the same bowl, mix in the tomato puree, followed by the yoghurt and coconut milk.
- Pour the spice mixture over the chicken and onions in the slow cooker, and stir well.
- Cook on low for up to six hours. Once cooked, check the seasoning and adjust if required. Serve with plenty of chopped coriander.
- It’s possible to use chicken breast instead of thighs, but cook for four hours on low rather than six to prevent your chicken drying out.