Kashmiri Butter Chicken

I’ve been making my way through Sara Lewis’ recipes in her attractively-produced book Ultimate Slow Cooker. (Technically, I purchased this book for my partner, but it was in much the same spirit as when I, as a ten-year-old or so, bought my babcia a cricket set; old habits die hard.) By far the best grub to come out of this collection thus far is the Kashmiri Butter Chicken. Here’s the low down, slightly modified from Lewis’ directions:

Serves 4
Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 5–7 hours
Cooking temperature: Low

2 onions, quartered
4 garlic cloves
6cm fresh root ginger, peeled
1 large red chilli, halved and de-seeded
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 tbsp canola oil
25g butter
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
4 cardamom pods, crushed
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
300ml chicken stock
1 tbsp light muscovado sugar
3 tbsp tomato purée
7 tbsp cream (or 5 tbsp of double cream)
rice and/or naan bread

To garnish
2 tbsp flake almonds, toasted
sprigs of coriander

1) Preheat the slow cooker.
2) Blend the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli in a food processor (or chop very finely).
3) Cut each chicken thigh into 4 pieces. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the chicken, a few pieces at a time, until all the meat has been added. Cook over a high heat until evenly browned. Lift the chicken pieces out of the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate.
4) Add the butter to the frying pan and, when it (i.e., the butter, not the pan) has melted, add the onion paste. Cook over a more moderate heat until it is just beginning to colour. Stir in the crushed seeds, cardamom seeds and pods and ground spices. Cook for 1 minute, then mix in the stock, sugar, tomato purée and salt. Bring to the boil, stirring.
5) Transfer the chicken to the slow cooker pot, pour the onion mixture and sauce over the top and press the chicken below the surface of the liquid. Cover and cook for 5–7 hours.
6) Stir in the cream and serve garnished with toasted flaked almonds, sprigs of coriander, and plain steamed rice and/or warm naan bread.

Stuck for a partnering beer? Try Kingsfisher or Kalyani Black Label or Kings Black Label premium pilsner.

[Note: the image is from Lewis’ book. I’m yet to learn the art of good food photography (which is something that today’s cookbook authors/publishers seem more interested in than in the actual recipes). Furthermore, after I’ve cooked and served, the last thing I feel like doing is farting around trying to take photos while dinner gets cold.]


  1. Great, that’s the idea. As for me and my house, on the menu tonight will be Arnaki me Patates (roast leg of lamb with potatoes), based on a recipe from Aglaia Kremezi’s delightful book The Foods of the Greek Islands, and using one of our own lambs as the main ingredient (alongside our own home-grown spuds). And tomorrow, I’ll be preaching on the good shepherd who leaves the ninety-nine safe sheep (i.e., sheep that you couldn’t get out of heaven with a crowbar) in order to seek out the one sheep who was lost. Sounds like a sheepy weekend.


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