Make Vivek Singh’s Old Delhi-style butter chicken

This recipe for butter chicken from renowned chef Vivek Singh (of The Cinnamon Club fame) is smoky, spicy and all kinds of indulgent

Make Vivek Singh’s old Delhi-style butter chicken

Serves 4

Preparation time 30 minutes

Cooking time 1 hour

"Butter chicken must be India’s favourite dish while eating out. I must have asked hundreds of people to name the one dish they always order when they go out and Butter Chicken has featured in every response! As for me personally, this is the best dish ever—it has everything a great dish should have. It has smoke and spice, kick and texture, creamy unctuousness and bite, all at the same time It’s just the best dish in the world!" - Vivek Singh



  • 2 x 750g free-range poussin, skinned and each cut in half along the backbone (alternatively use 800g bonnet chicken thighs cut into two)

    For the marinade:

    • 120g Greek yoghurt
    • 2 tbsp ginger and garlic paste
    • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
    • 1 ½ tsp salt
    • Juice of lemon
    • 3 tsp red chilli powder
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • ½ tsp garam masala

    For the sauce:

    • 1kg tomatoes
    • 125ml water
    • 5cm piece of ginger, peeled, half crushed and half finely chopped
    • 4 garlic cloves
    • 4 green cardamom pods
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
    • 80g butter, diced
    • 2 green chillies, slit lengthways
    • 75ml single cream
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp garam masala
    • 2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves, crushed between your fingers
    • 1 tbsp sugar




  1. First prepare the chicken. Make small cuts all over the chicken pieces with a sharp knife to help the marinade penetrate. To prepare the marinade, mix together the yoghurt with all the other ingredients for the marinade in a deep bowl. Smear the cut chicken with the marinade, cover and set aside in the fridge for 10 minutes.
  2. Cook the chicken in an oven pre-heated to 220C for 13-15 minutes. You may need to turn the pieces after 8-10 minutes or so to ensure they colour evenly on both sides. Cut the cooked chicken into smaller pieces as per your preference. The chicken should not be completely cooked at this point as it will be simmered for a few more minutes in the sauce. Strain off the juices through a fine sieve and set aside.
  3. For the sauce, slice the tomatoes in half and place in a pan with the water, crushed ginger, garlic, cardamon, cloves and bay leaf and simmer until the tomatoes have completely disintegrated. Now blend this tomato broth with a hand-held blender and pass it through a sieve to obtain a smooth purée.
  4. Return to a clean pan, add the chilli powder and simmer for 12-15 minutes. It should slowly begin to thicken. When the sauce turns glossy, add the chicken pieces and the reserved roasting juices. Then add a cup of water and simmer for about 3-5 minutes until the water is absorbed and the sauce returns to its original glossy consistency.
  5. Slowly whisk in the butter, a couple of pieces at a time, and simmer for 6-8 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce is beginning to acquire a glaze.
  6. Add the chopped ginger, green chillies and cream and simmer for a minute or two longer, taking care that the sauce does not split. Stir in the salt, crushed fenugreek leaves and garam masala, then check the seasoning and add the sugar.
  7. Serve with naan bread or pilau rice.