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Chicken in a butter sauce

  • 4-6
Chicken in a butter sauce

I tested several versions of this delicious tandoori-based chicken dish and settled for one from Illustrated Indian Cookery by Madhur Jaffrey.


  • 1 kilogram thigh and leg chicken pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1½ tablespoons yellow food colouring
  • 1 tablespoon red food colouring
  • 2 cups plain yoghurt
  • ½ onion, peeled
  • 2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ green chilli, seeds removed
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • Sauce
  • ½ cup tomato puree
  • 2 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1 cup mascarpone
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • ½ teaspoon each salt and sugar
  • 1 green chilli, deseeded
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon ground roasted cumin seeds or cumin, 100 grams unsalted butter


  1. Remove skin from chicken pieces. This allows the marinade to penetrate the meat and ensures you're not left with a greasy dish. Use a sharp knife to cut deep gashes through to the bone in meaty areas of each portion. Mix salt and lemon juice together, coat the chicken and work in well.
  2. Mix red and yellow food colourings together. Brush chicken pieces with the colouring, making sure you have coated them well. Place into a shallow dish.
  3. Blend yoghurt, onion, ginger, garlic, chilli and garam masala in a food processor until smooth. Pour over the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and preferably overnight. The longer you leave it, the more intense the flavour.
  4. Remove chicken from the marinade and brush off any excess marinade with a glazing brush. Place chicken on a grill rack over a baking dish and drizzle a little melted ghee or olive oil over the top.
  5. Preheat the oven to 220ºC on fan bake or 240ºC without fan. Cook for 20-25 minutes until cooked through.
  6. Make the sauce up when the butter is added. Add the butter and then the hot chicken. Serve.
  7. Sauce
  8. Mix tomato puree with half a cup of cold water and place into a food processor with ginger, cream, garam masala, salt, sugar, chilli, cayenne pepper, coriander, lemon juice and cumin. Process until smooth.
  9. Place in a large frying pan and stir over a moderate heat until the sauce has come almost to the boil (don't allow to boil).
  10. Chop the butter into small pieces and gradually stir into the sauce. Continue to cook until all the butter has been added.
  11. Add the hot cooked chicken pieces but don't add any of the fat or juice from the pan. Turn to coat in the sauce. Serve.

Cooks Tips

- A tandoor is a vat-shaped clay oven heated with wood or charcoal. Incredibly hot, they can cook a skewered chicken in about 15 minutes, browning the outside while keeping the flesh moist. To re-create this, have your oven at the highest setting.

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