Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice

June 9, 2015

Butter chicken with basmati rice

Butter chicken with basmati rice

My friend Carol gathered several friends for a cooking demonstration at her house.  One of our colleagues, Jarnail, showed us how he makes his signature dish — butter chicken over basmati rice.  We  could tell he has made this dish thousands of times from his ease in assembling the ingredients.  From start to finish, it took Jarnail less than an hour to put lunch on the table.  And wow, it was incredibly good!

Other than a few special spices, Jarnail’s butter chicken and basmati rice uses ingredients that I commonly have stocked at home.  Now that I know how to make it, I hope to adopt this as my standby dish when we have company.


3 – 4 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 small container (6 – 8 0z) plain yogurt (I think Jarnail would have used a bit more if we had it on hand; he made do with one container)
5 Tbsp garam masala, divided
2 Tbsp ground ginger, divided
2 Tbsp garlic powder, divided
4 Tbsp cumin seeds, divided
3 Tbsp dried methi flakes
about 3/4 c oil (canola, corn, or other oil on hand)
juice of one lemon
yellow food coloring
3 cans (15 oz) tomato sauce
1-1/2 pt whipping cream (not heavy)
1 small onion or shallot
2 c mixed frozen vegetables
2 c basmati rice
4 c water
salt and pepper to taste

Cutting the chicken into chunks

Cutting the chicken into chunks

Mixing the yogurt-based marinade

Mixing the yogurt-based marinade

Mixing the Yogurt-based Marinade
(Jarnail said you could marinade the chicken overnight, 2 hours, or even less.  Since he whipped up this dish over his lunch hour, he allowed the chicken to marinade only long enough to preheat the oven.)

In a large bowl, mix together:
2 Tbsp garam masala
2 – 3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1/4 c oil
about 20 drops of yellow food coloring
generous application of salt and pepper

Toss the chicken chunks in the marinade and allow to sit.  Preheat oven to 450-degrees F.  When oven is hot, pour the chicken out in a single layer on an edged baking sheet lined with foil.  Bake about 15 – 20 minutes until the chicken is about half done.


In the meantime, start the rice and the butter sauce.

Basmati Rice

In a large pan on the stove top, heat 1/4 c oil.  Then add and saute:
2 Tbsp cumin seeds
sliced onion or shallots

Once everything is sizzling, add 2 c mixed vegetables.  Then add 4 c water.  Rinse 2 c rice and then add to pan.  Salt to taste.

Bring to a boil.  Cook at medium heat, uncovered, until about half the water is absorbed, stirring occasionally.  Then cover and cook at low heat until all the water is absorbed.




Butter Chicken Sauce

In a large pot on the stove top, heat 1/4 c oil.  Add 2 Tbsp cumin seeds and allow to heat until sizzling.  Then add:

3 cans tomato sauce
1-1/2 pints whipping cream (Rinse containers of tomato sauce and cream with a small amount of water and add water to the pot.)
3 Tbsp garam masala
1 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp garlic powder
3 Tbsp dried methi flakes (rub between palms before dropping into pot)
salt and pepper to taste

Bring to a boil and keep very hot (simmering), covered, until chicken is half done in the oven.  Add chicken to sauce and cook another 7 – 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Serve over rice.  Serves 6 generously.

Adding half-cokked chicken to butter sauce

Adding half-cooked chicken to butter sauce






5 Responses to “Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice”

  1. Jeff McKeown Says:

    Jarnail has made this for me several times (at my persistent requests) and I cannot wait to lean how to make this dish!

  2. Jeff Mckeown Says:

    ALERT: It’s not Cardmom Seed!!! It’s Cumin. Do NOT use Cardmom. I did and it was horrible! I checked Jarnail and he confirmed. Don’t use Cardmom.

    Of course check with Jarnail, but it was really bad.

    • Rosemary Says:

      I am so sorry for your experience and ruined meal. I just edited my post to correct it. Jarnail’s spices were in clear plastic bags, unlabeled. The error was most likely due to mangled language and misunderstanding. Thank you for taking the time to correct the recipe. I am shopping for my spices tomorrow, so this was timely for me.

  3. Jeff Mckeown Says:

    Glad I could help. I should be clear: the sauce was amazing. It was actually eating the seeds that was so bad. This was clearly the best butter chicken sauce I’ve had (minus the seeds) outside of Jarnail making it for me.

    Attempt #2 this weekend.


  4. […] Butter Chicken with Basmati Rice, June 9, 2015 […]

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