Tender and juicy chicken, cooked in a creamy-buttery tomato sauce, served with Saffron flavored Basmati Rice. This recipe for Easy Butter Chicken and Saffron Rice is the super-easy adaptation of my recipe for Authentic Butter Chicken. Butter Chicken is one of my kids’ favorite Indian curries. With this recipe, I simplified the cooking process to be less than 30 minutes, without losing any of that amazing rich flavor.
In my original recipe, I marinate the chicken overnight, grill it and then simmer it in the sauce. In this easier and time saving recipe, I skip the marination, add extra Garam Masala to the sauce, use diced boneless skinless chicken and pressure cook it. As a result, the flavors seep into the chicken and it tastes phenomenal. This recipe is my weeknight-friendly variation that’ll leave you amazed. Try it and enjoy a restaurant style Indian treat, right in the comfort of your home, even on a weeknight!
In my original recipe for Authentic Butter Chicken, I follow the traditional method and marinate the chicken overnight in yogurt and toasted ground Garam Masala. I then grill it and simmer it in a tomato-cream sauce for a few minutes. Marinating the chicken makes the chicken moist, juicy, and flavorful. Grilling it adds a delicious char-broiled smoky flavor to it. Believe me, all that effort is worth the time it takes to make it. But I was looking to simplify this recipe, so I would be able to make it more often since my kids enjoy it so much. After a few attempts, I finally succeeded, as in, it was approved by the “butter chicken connoisseurs”, aka, my kids 🙂
I skipped the marination step, boosted the flavor of the sauce by adding more garam masala, added smoked paprika to add a subtle smoky flavor, and pressure cooked the chicken so it would take all of those wonderful flavors.
The Origin of Butter Chicken
Butter Chicken or Murgh Makhani, literally means ‘chicken cooked in a buttery rich sauce’. It is an authentic Punjabi dish (North-Indian) that was created in the 1950s, in a super popular restaurant in New Delhi called ‘Moti Mahal Delux’. The founder and chef of the restaurant decided to use left-over Tandoori Chicken (Indian-Spiced Grilled Chicken) in a rich and buttery tomato gravy. Little did he know, that he was creating one of the most popular curry dishes from the Indian subcontinent.
Dairy-Free/Lactose-free & Gluten Free:
This recipe can be made dairy-free by substituting the heavy cream with full-fat coconut milk. It’s as easy as that. There is no other substitution required. And, this recipe is Gluten-free, which makes it perfect for entertaining as well.
Make it Vegetarian:
The base sauce that I make this recipe is vegetarian. So, you can easily switch the protein in this dish and make it vegetarian. You can add Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese), extra-firm Tofu, mushrooms, or, a medley of veggies as well. Check out the recipe for a vegetarian favorite that I make with this sauce, Paneer Butter Masala, or, Paneer Makhani.
Pairing Suggestions for Easy Butter Chicken
I love pairing Easy Butter Chicken with Saffron Rice! Both these dishes are aromatic and have intense flavor, as a result of which, they compliment each other so well. Basmati rice is cooked in a Saffron infused broth to make Saffron Rice. Saffron compliments the aromatic and nutty basmati rice and elevates it to an elegant side dish. Another popular pairing with Butter Chicken is Cumin Rice (Zeera Rice). A side of Cucumber Raita really completes this meal. Since this recipe uses warm Indian spices, yogurt balances that warmth and adds a cooling freshness to this Easy Butter Chicken meal.
POT-in-POT: Cooking Butter Chicken and Saffron Rice in the same pot
In this recipe, I have cooked everything in one-pot, using the pot-in-pot technique in my electrical pressure cooker, Instant Pot. Since chicken and basmati rice have the same cook time (6 minutes on high pressure), it is a great combination to make in one-pot. Watch the video above to see how easy this process is.
Here is my recipe for authentic and traditional BUTTER CHICKEN, give it a shot, I promise you, it’ll be worth your time!
Easy Butter Chicken and Saffron Rice (with Dairy-Free option)Print Recipe
- Butter Chicken
- 1.5 lb. boneless skinless Chicken Thighs or Breast, cut in 3 inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or Light Olive Oil
- 2 tablespoons ginger-garlic paste (1 inch ginger, 6 cloves garlic, pulsed/grated)
- 14oz. can Diced Tomatoes, pureed, OR 3-4 ripe Roma tomatoes, pureed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric Powder
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Powder
- 2 teaspoons Smoked Paprika
- 2-3 teaspoons Garam Masala (depending on your spice preferences)
- 1 tablespoon Coriander Powder
- Add after cooking
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, OR, Full-Fat Coconut milk for dairy Free option
- 1-2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
- 2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
- Saffron Rice
- 1 cup Basmati Rice, rinsed 2-3 times
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon Saffron, soaked in 1 tablespoon water, microwaved 20 seconds
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoon light olive oil
- 2 tablespoons Slivered Almonds (optional)
Rice: Rinse basmati rice 2-3 times, till the water runs clear. In an oven safe bowl, add rice, water, saffron, that has been microwaved for 20 seconds in water, oil, salt and slivered almonds. Keep aside.
Sauce: Turn Instant pot on SAUTE. Turning saute will warm everything through while we assemble the recipe, thereby reducing the pressure building time. Add oil, ginger garlic paste, tomato sauce and spices. I puree diced tomatoes, but you can also use ripe tomatoes and puree them. Add chicken pieces and stir.
Place trivet and put the rice bowl on top of that. Close the lid. Cancel SAUTE. Pressure cook for 6 minutes on Manual/pressure Cook. Vent set to Sealing position.
Wait 10 minutes and release all the pressure by turning the valve from Sealing to Venting position (NPR 10). Open lid after pin drops. Remove rice and fluff with a fork. Turn on SAUTE. Add heavy cream or Coconut milk and saute for 2-3 minutes, till the sauce thickens a bit. Optionally, add sugar and stir. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve with Saffron rice and Naan!
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