Bigger Better Butter Chicken
Initially, this dish was only supposed to be what’s known as Butter Chicken. Or maybe Better Butter Chicken…
The “Bigger” part came in as a bit of an accident… but one of the good kind, though!
The thing is, I kind of went a little overboard with the sauce. Halfway through making the stew, I realized I had way too much of it… something had to be done! I mean, I like me a good amount of sauce in my stews, but there’s limits. After all, it wasn’t soup I was hungry for.
I quickly rummaged through my fridge, in search of a good potential addition. Lucky for me, I always keep a few pounds of spinach on hand, and I’d just purchased a bunch of beautiful, fresh button mushrooms. That would be just PERFECT.
In fact, I was instantly thrilled that I’d made a little too much sauce. I knew right then and there that those two very simple additions would elevate this classic dish from great to grand. And that, they did!
In fact, I think I’ll never be having classic Butter Chicken ever again. From now on, it’ll always be Bigger Better Butter Chicken for this foodie!
Ideally and if time permits, you want to marinate the chicken overnight in a mixture of lemon juice, garlic, salt and garam masala. If you can’t do overnight, try and give it at least a couple of hours. The lemon juice will start to denature the protein in the meat, making that chicken so much juicier and tender, while the salt will really get into the meat, rendering it so much tastier.
When you are ready to cook your chicken, rinse it under cold running water and then pat it real dry.
Melt the ghee in a large skillet set over medium-high heat then add the pieces of chicken in a single layer, being mindful not to overcrowd the pan, (you will probably have to work in batches) and cook the meat until nice and golden all around, about 5-6 minutes total;
Remove the cooked pieces of chicken to a bowl to catch the juices.
Return the skillet to the heat source, lower the heat to medium and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the vegetables soften get a nice golden coloration.
Add the chicken and its juices back to the skillet then throw in the garam masala, ras el hanout, ground cinnamon, chipotle powder and white pepper.
Mix until the pieces of chicken are well coated.
Now stir in the crushed tomatoes, date paste and water and let that simmer slowly for about 25 minutes, until the sauce becomes thick and smooth.
In a large glass measuring cup, mix the coconut milk and sunflower seed butter together; whisk vigorously until they are well combined, then add that to the chicken stew; stir well.
Bring back to a simmer and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, brown the mushrooms in a separate skillet, then throw them into the stew…
…along with the mountain of spinach.
Alright, I’ll admit: that may be quite the amount to add in one go. You could very well do this in 2 or 3 batches, if you preferred…
It’ll only make it that much easier to stir them in! But hey, I like me a good challenge, so I went ahead and threw the whole bunch in at once.
Stir delicately until the spinach is completely incorporated and wilted.
As you can see, what was once a huge pile of green leaves has now reduced quite considerably. To see spinach shrink like that will simply never cease to amaze me…
And there you have it: Butter Chicken, kicked up a serious notch!
I’m telling you, the spinach and mushrooms do SO MUCH for this dish, it’s not even funny. Makes you wonder why they’re not part of the original dish. Perhaps because those two ingredients aren’t really common in Indian Cuisine? Yeah… that would make sense.
But hey, that doesn’t mean adding them is strictly prohibited.
In fact, I’d even say that it should be strongly encouraged!
Bigger Better Butter Chicken
- 4 large chicken breasts, cut into 1" to 2" pieces (about 1.25kg | 2.75lbs)
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp Himalayan salt
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1/4 cup ghee, or make your own
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
- 2 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp ras el hanout
- 1 tsp ground Ceylon cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 - 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp date paste
- 1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
- 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter, or toasted almond butter
- 1/2 lb mushrooms, cut in half
- 1/2 lb fresh spinach
- Marinate chicken overnight in lemon juice, garlic, salt and garam masala.
- Rinse the chicken under cold running water then pat it real dry.
- Melt the ghee in a large skillet set over medium-high heat then add the pieces of chicken in a single layer, being mindful not to overcrowd the pan, (you will probably have to work in batches) and cook until nice and golden all around, about 5-6 minutes total; Remove the cooked pieces of chicken to a bowl to catch the juices.
- Return the skillet to the heat source, lower the heat to medium and add the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the vegetables soften and start to brown slightly.
- Add the chicken back to the skillet then throw in the garam masala, ras el hanout, cinnamon, chipotle powder and white pepper. Mix well.
- Stir in crushed tomatoes, date paste and water and simmer slowly for 25 minutes.
- In a glass measuring cup, mix the coconut milk and sunflower seed butter; whisk vigorously until well combined, then add to the chicken stew and stir well.
- Bring back to a simmer and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, brown the mushrooms in a separate skillet, then add them to the stew, along with the spinach.
- Stir delicately until the spinach is completely incorporated and wilted, then serve.
If you’ve tried this recipe, please take a minute to rate the recipe and let me know how things went for you in the comments below. It’s always such a pleasure to hear from you!
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22 Comments on “Bigger Better Butter Chicken”
Too much sauce? I’m sorry but those words do not exist in my vocabulary…
But shrooms are mah favorite sooo I can deal 😉
HAHA! Well now this is a win win. You got the same amount of sauce and shrooms as an added bonus. 😀
Mmmm, sounds amazing! I will put it on my list of future recipes although I will substitute turkey for chicken cause chicken is a “do not eat” food for my blood type.
Turkey will work just fine! 🙂
Wow. I know my boyfriend would love this recipe. It looks so tasty.
This was good and had just the right amount of heat! Just found a recipe for paleo naan and might have to try making it tomorrow with the leftovers!
Funny, my good friend Michelle from Peachy Palate just posted a Naan Bread recipe after she gave my Butter Chicken a little bit of a makeover… She posted it here, if you want to take a look. Maybe it’ll be to your liking. I haven’t tried it, so can’t really comment on it, but it sure looks good! 🙂
So gooooood. just made it. I had to improvise a bit but I used peppers and eggplant and collard greens as the veg and tahini as the nut butter (I’m allergic to almonds). You are a genius Sonia, I won’t stop saying it. So so delicious.
Alexandra, you are just too sweet! 😀 Thank you so much, I’m real happy you’re enjoying my recipes. 🙂
I am not known for leaving reviews. Until I found your website I had written one online review, but this is my third glowing review for you. THIS DISH IS DIVINE. Whenever I get depressed about having to eat dairy-free Paleo or stuck in a rut of cooking the same things, I find something on your website because YOU KNOW HOW TO COOK. And the flavor pairings in your recipes are outstanding. I loved this and am looking forward to leftovers tomorrow!
Andrea, you are such a GEM! I oughta have this fantastic review printed and framed and then hang it on a wall in my kitchen, so I can read it everyday and feel good! 🙂
Thank you so much for making my day, you absolutely, positively, totally ROCK!
This is another winner Sonia! I made this the other night with a mixture of chicken breasts and thighs and subbed almond butter for the sunflower seed butter (all I had on hand) and it was so tasty! Thanks for another great recipe!
YAY! Happy to hear this dish was to your liking, Kamila. Thanks a bunch for taking the time to leave the great feedback, I truly appreciate it! 🙂
Just stumbled on you and I’m so excited about it! Okay, so…what do you think of this recipe for a spice wuss? My whole family has a hard time with spices, and looking at this recipe, it seems like it might be something we’d have a hard time with. I can definitely modify, but I’m curious about how you’d rate the heat so I know how much to modify. I’m hesitant to change too much since it is probably amazing just the way it is!
It’s not that hot and spicy at all, Briana. I don’t think you need to tone it down at all, but if you really don’t want any heat at all, you may want to omit the chipotle powder.
Please let me know how you and your family liked the dish if you end up trying it! 🙂
We tried it this week. I did end up leaving out the chipotle powder and it was still a bit spicy for me! My kids didn’t complain about the spice though, and my husband raved about it! I think my food is usually too bland for him! 🙂 Thanks for a great recipe…we’ll definitely be making it again!
So very happy to hear, Briana. Thanks a bunch for taking the time to let me know, too! I greatly appreciate that! 😀
What a spectacular spin! Love it, it looks divine. Mushrooms aren’t really a part of traditional Indian cuisine and I think it’s a shame because I think they go really well in curries!
Just made this for dinner, didn’t change a thing…FABULOUS!
Thank you April! Super happy to hear! 😀
Looks absolutely delicious ! I was thinking about trying paleo recipes for a while, soI may give it a go this weekend.