Indian Butter Chicken (or Cauliflower or tofu!) gently simmers in fragrant Tomato-Ginger-Coconut Sauce infused with Indian spices – delicious comfort food on chilly winter nights.
“Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death. ” Anaïs Nin
Just as delicious with roasted cauliflower or pan-seared tofu, this Indian Butter Chicken is vegan adaptable, and really ALL about the sauce! The sauce alone, spooned over veggies and basmati rice will make you so incredibly happy you will want to melt into your chair. You think I’m kidding don’t you? I’m not.
The best thing is this version is adaptable for mixed households, meaning, your spouse who wants his chicken dinner and your daughter who is vegan will both totally loooooove it! Serve it with chicken, serve it with cauliflower or tofu or chickpeas or roasted veggies ( or all the above) – all at the same time- and let your family assemble their own bowls. Guess, what….everyone’s happy! Total win!!!
I’ve been making this recipe for years in our catering business and am so ecstatic to finally be able to share it with you! It’s not a 30 minute dinner, but it’s reasonably quick and easy ( 45-60 mins). The payoff, however, is huge. You can totally do this.
Here it’s made with chicken thighs, left whole to finish cooking in the flavorful sauce.
Here below, it’s served with roasted cauliflower and brown basmati rice.
Here it’s served with rice and pan-seared tofu.
And for a low-carb, high-protein option, you could serve the chicken with roasted cauliflower instead of rice.
Or leave all the components separate so family members can create their own bowls!
As you can see when you look at the recipe, this can easily be made this vegan (though the ghee truly does add great flavor). Feel free to serve the Indian Butter Sauce over simple, oven-roasted veggies and rice, or slow-braised lamb or beef. It’s really that versatile.
If cooking for one or two, freeze half of the sauce for another time, or freeze the sauce in individual portions – in small ziplock bags for quick lunches or dinners.
I purposely used coconut milk here instead of the traditional plain yogurt and heavy cream -to keep it vegan -which if you prefer, please use instead.
FYI: the sauce tastes even better the next day. Be sure to rate the recipe leave your notes below and share any adaptions or substitutions.
Thanks and enjoy! xo
PS. Here’s a simple recipe for Garam Masala Spice that may come in handy!
Indian Butter Chicken ( or Cauliflower)
Indian Butter Chicken (or Cauliflower or TOFU!!) served over your choice of roasted cauliflower or brown basmati rice- a flavorful Indian Curry dish that is vegan adaptable!
- Prep Time: 20
- Cook Time: 40
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 6-8
- Category: Main
- Cuisine: Indian
- 2 lbs chicken ( breast or thighs) or tofu, or roasted veggies ( cauliflower, sweet potatoes, parsnips etc)
- salt, pepper & garam masala to taste, oil for searing.
Indian Butter Sauce
- 2 tablespoons ghee (or coconut or olive oil)
- 1 onion, finely diced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 serano chilies ( or sub 1 jalapeno) split in half lengthwise, ( leave tops in tact)
- 4 fat garlic cloves- finely minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger finely minced ( or use paste)
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds ( optional)
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds ( optional)
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds ( optional)
- 1 can diced tomatoes or tomato puree ( or sub 2 medium tomatoes, diced with their juices)
- 1 cup water or stock
- 1 tablespoon garam masala spice ( see notes)
- 2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves (optional, but elevates the dish substantially)
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika ( do NOT use smoked paprika, if you don’t have regular, just leave it out!)
- 1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk (milk and solids) see notes
- 1 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar or honey ( optional)
- little squeeze of lemon, 2 teaspoons
- cilantro, optional garnish
Serve with brown basmati rice, cauliflower rice or cauliflower florets and optional toasty naan bread
Decide what you want to serve this over ( basmati rice, roasted cauliflower florets, riced cauliflower) and get it cooking.
Season chicken (either whole or cut into bite-sized pieces) or tofu ( filets or cubes) with salt, pepper and a little sprinkling of garam masala. Heat oil in a skillet and sear well, until golden and crispy and set aside. ( You can continue cooking the chicken all the way through in the Indian Butter Sauce in a little bit, or in the oven now.)
Heat ghee or oil in a large skillet or dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, cinnamon stick and serano chilies and saute 8-10 minutes until deeply golden. Add the garlic, ginger and optional fennel seeds, mustard seeds and cumin seeds and cook until ginger is cooked and golden, about 3 more minutes. Add the diced tomatoes (and juices) plus 1 cup water. Add all the remaining spices and salt. ( If you didn’t have cumin seeds or fennel seeds earlier, feel free to add the same amount ground, now.)
Bring this to a gentle simmer on low heat, uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing all the fragrant spices to infuse the sauce and your home. After 10 minutes it will have thickened slightly – stir in the coconut milk and simmer gently once more for 5- 10 minutes, placing the chicken into the sauce to finish cooking all the way through.
Alternatively you can keep everything separate, allowing people to make their own “bowls” with either chicken or tofu or veggies, over the rice, topped with the fragrant Indian Butter Sauce.
Sprinkle with fresh cilantro if you like.
This recipe is all about the Indian “Butter” Sauce. As you can see you can easily keep it vegan (though the ghee truly does add great flavor). Feel free to serve it over oven roasted veggies and rice, or slow braised lamb. It’s really that versatile. Feel free to freeze half of the sauce for another use, or to freeze it in individual portions- in small ziplock bags for later on down the road. You could even use the sauce in a slow cooker meal. I purposely used coconut milk here instead of the traditional plain yogurt and heavy cream ( to keep it vegan) which you are free to use instead ( 1 cup yogurt, ½ cup cream). FYI: the sauce tastes even better the next day.
Garam Masala Spice can be found at your local super market ( spice section or bulk spice section) and even though it’s kind of an “odd” ingredient, it’s one that I use here on the blog frequently, so perhaps worth investing in. You can also make your own blend….click here!
This recipe is all about the Indian Butter Sauce. As you can see you can easily keep it vegan. Feel free to serve it over oven roasted veggies and rice, or slow braised lamb. It’s really versatile. Feel free to freeze half of the sauce for another use, or to freeze it in individual portions- small ziplock bags for later on down the road.
Another ingredient I use a lot on the blog….are dried fenugreek leaves (not seeds) – they can be hard to track down, but well worth the hunt- they elevate Indian dishes substantially! Asian markets usually carry them or they can be ordered on Amazon.