Butter Chicken Recipe (Dry)

Dry Butter Chicken is the non-gravy version of the popular Indian dish! Here’s how you can put this simple recipe together !

Butter Chicken is a popular North Indian dish. In most instances, this dish is more creamy and spicy than it is buttery. Traditionally, butter chicken is made with all thick, boneless thigh meat. First tempered in spices, the chicken pieces are left to cook till tender in a creamy tomato gravy. I suppose the butter angle comes in via the clarified butter that is usually used when making this dish. 

Sasha’s Fine Foods

I decided to make a dry version of butter chicken to pair it with Sasha’s Fine Foods’ Coconut and Lime Dal. Read more about the products from this innovative online grocer here! The chicken in this recipe was sponsored by Sasha’s Fine Foods as well. Responsibly sourced and frozen, the chicken breast used here was fresh and provided great value for money!

Just like the original, this butter chicken recipe doesn’t really use butter. The chicken can be marinated and left in the chiller overnight, or in the freezer for up to 2 months. The yoghurt in the marinate helps to tenderise the chicken, making it moist and juicy. As this is a dry dish, you can pop the chicken out of the freezer before heading to work and whip it up when you’re home. 

Pair It

However, it is too dry on it’s own. You’ll have to eat this with some type of gravy. This is why the dal works very well here. If dal isn’t your thing, try making another curry or even rasam. You can find the recipe for rasam on my Instagram profile highlights. 

I purposefully did not add extra chillies and charred my onion slices till they got crispy. Because this recipe requires you to fry the chicken before hand, use a healthier fat such as olive oil for the second part of the recipe. 


375g Chicken Breast (I used hormone and antibiotic-free chicken from Sasha’s Fine Foods)

4 Cloves Garlic, peeled and minced

1 Tsp Turmeric

1 Tsp Cumin Seed Powder

1 Tsp Coriander Seed Powder

1 ½ Tbsp Meat Curry Powder

5 Tbsp Yoghurt

½  Tsp Salt

1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

½ Tsp Mustard Seeds

½ Tsp Cumin Seeds

1 Star Anise

2 Cloves

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Medium Onion, peeled and sliced into semi-circles

1 Dried Bay Leaf


Cube the chicken into bite sized pieces. Marinade with the spice powders, minced garlic, salt and yoghurt. Set aside in the chiller for at least an hour or overnight. Then, remove from chiller and leave to come up to room temperature (this will reduce the splatter when you fry the chicken).

In a large skillet, pour in enough oil to cover the base of the pan. You will be shallow frying the chicken, so go by eye with the oil. Heat the oil till nice and hot, then gently lower in the chicken chunks. The water content in the chicken and yoghurt will make this splutter like crazy, so have a lid close by.

After 3 minutes on one side, remove lid and turn the chicken pieces to get an even golden brown on all sides. Of course, this will depend on the heat of your stove and the size of your chicken chunks, so go by eye again. 

Once the chicken has been fried, remove and place in a paper towel to drain. Place a smaller skillet over medium heat. Pour in the olive oil and add the mustard and cumin seeds. Wait for the mustard seeds to start popping. Add the other whole spices and temper for a further minute. Add the onions and fry till soft. Then, add the bay leaf. Continue to fry till onions begin to char. Then, add the fried chicken and coat it in the hot, spiced oil. 

Serve warm with rice and curry. 

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