Wednesday, April 6, 2011

No-Butter Chicken

Butter chicken is a popular dish in Indian cooking (Punjabi to be exact). As its name suggests, the dish is rather rich. Chunks of chicken are marinated in yogurt and spices and then bathed in a tomato-based sauce that is made rich and luxurious with ample amounts of butter and cream. If you are in the mood for a treat or are in the looking to walk on the caloric side of Indian cuisine, butter chicken is a delicious way to go.

However, I know not all of you prefer your meals with “butter” in the recipe title. For a lighter, more everyday way to treat yourself to the delicious flavors of butter chicken, consider this recipe for No-Butter Chicken. In this healthier take on its namesake, chunks of chicken are cooked in an aromatic sauce redolent with the flavors of onions, garlic, ginger, cumin, and other spices. The sauce gets its wonderful creaminess from non-fat plain yogurt rather than butter or cream. But don’t worry – you won’t miss the fat or calories one bit. (And I’m not one to make that claim lightly.)

The flavor of this chicken is so good that you will likely impress yourself with your culinary abilities. I don’t know about you, but I love it when that happens. I could not believe the amazing taste that was produced with such relatively little work. Just make sure you have some rice or naan to serve alongside this chicken when you make it – you aren’t going to want to waste a single drop of the deceptively rich-tasting No-Butter sauce. It is plate-licking good. Which, of course, is why you need the naan. Because plate-licking is typically frowned upon. Especially if you have company over for dinner.

One Year Ago: Fusilli with Cauliflower, Olives, and Herbs

No-Butter Chicken
Adapted from Bal Arneson

2 T. grapeseed or canola oil
1 small red onion, chopped
2 T. fresh garlic, minced
1 T. fresh ginger, chopped
2 T. tomato paste
1 T. brown sugar
1 T. cumin seeds
1 T. garam masala
1 tsp. dried red chile flakes
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. salt
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
1/4 cup low-fat yogurt (I used non-fat Greek yogurt)
1/2 cup water

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger and cook for 4 minutes, or until the onion turns a little golden.

Add the tomato paste, brown sugar, cumin seeds, garam masala, red chile flakes, turmeric, and salt. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the chicken and stir well to coat with the spices.

Add the yogurt and water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 8 minutes.

Serve hot.

Serves 4.


  1. Katie, it's like you're in my heart! I have been all over Indian cooking lately, and I have some fantastic vegetarian leftovers, but Andrew is a carnivore and I think he might stage a mutiny if he doesn't get a meaty dinner soon. I'm headed to the store in an hour and then home to make this! Thank you!

  2. Monica - You are most welcome! I hope you guys enjoy this one as much as we did. Please let me know how it turns out!

  3. Reporting back - it's so good!! Ok love me or hate me, I entered the recipe into the daily plate; before the naan, it's only 320 calories per serving! That means I got a delicious and filling dinner for under 600 calories total. Woop woop!

  4. Just finishing my first helping - this is wonderful and so easy! Perfect amount of heat in my opinion as well. And perfect with homemade Naan :)! Thank you Katie!

  5. Monica - You know I could never hate you! Nor do I blame you for checking the calories - you have a wedding dress to wear soon! And you will look lovely :)

  6. Ann - You're so welcome! I'm glad you liked it. Thanks for letting me know!

  7. This dish was fabulous!! My husband said that he couldn't believe there was no butter in it at all!! Thanks for the recipe :)

  8. Michelle - You're welcome! Thanks for letting me know you liked it!



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