India: Butter Chicken

Indian Butter Chicken

I got this Indian Butter Chicken recipe from my friend, Susie, who lived in India for almost a year.  I’ve known her through for a long, long time.  She’s helped out with the forums and blog ages.  I even got to meet her and her family in person in New York City a few years ago, right before she left for India (that’s us below).  Oddly enough, just by chance we were both there on the same day!  If you get a chance, check out her blog series on Mommysavers: The Frugal Foreigner.

Since she said one of her favorite Indian dishes was Butter Chicken, I thought that would be a good one to make for my kids.  Don’t let the sheer number of ingredients in this intimidate you. It’s not hard at all.  Plus, once you purchase the spices you can make lots of other Indian dishes.

India: Butter Chicken
Indian Butter Chicken is a great introduction to Indian cuisine. It's mild enough to appeal to many palates.
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • ¼ white onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 potatoes peeled and diced.
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Saute shallot and onion until soft and translucent. Stir in butter, lemon juice, ginger-garlic paste, 1 teaspoon garam masala, chili powder, cumin and bay leaf. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in half-and-half and yogurt. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.
  3. Cook potatoes for ~10 mins, stirring often to evenly brown. Pull potatoes
  4. out of oil with slotted spoon/spatula, and add to sauce. Add chicken,
  5. and cook chicken until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat,
  6. and season with 1 teaspoon garam masala and cayenne. Stir in a few
  7. spoonfuls of sauce, and simmer until liquid has reduced, and chicken is
  8. no longer pink. Stir cooked chicken into sauce.
  9. Mix together cornstarch and water, then stir into the sauce. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, or until thickened.
  10. Serve with rice.
  11. NOTES: I didn't have garlic ginger paste, so I used chopped garlic and ginger. Also, I didn't have peanut oil so I used sesame oil.

new york 2010

Egypt: Halal Guys Chicken and Rice

halal guys chicken and rice

My Version: Halal Guys Chicken and Rice

halal guys chicken and rice

The Original

Most of you who know me also know I have a passion for NYC.  The first time I visited wasn’t until I was about 35 years old, but since then I’ve been there at least a dozen or more times.  I love the energy, the culture, and especially the food.   I could spend all day going from eatery to eatery stuffing my face.

The thing about New York City is that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get incredible food (more on my favorite Frugal New York Eats).  Food bargains are everywhere.  Some of the best offerings are under $10.  In fact, one of our favorites is the Halal Guys Food Cart on 53rd and 6th.   Their chicken and rice plate is only around $6, and it’s worth the long wait in line.   Every once in a while, I crave it and nothing Mankato comes close.

Their fare is billed as “Middle Eastern” so I tweeted them to see which nationality, specifically, to assign to their yummy food.  I felt really special when they responded to my tweet.  The answer?  Egyptian.  So with that, I cross the first African dish off my checklist.

Egypt: Halal Guys Chicken and Rice
Cuisine: Egyptian
For the Chicken: 2 Tbsp. lemon juice 1 tsp. dried oregano ½ tsp. ground coriander ½ tsp. cumin 3 garlic cloves, minced ¼ C. olive oil Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (the kind in the bag work well) For the Rice: 2 Tbsp. butter ½ tsp. turmeric ¼ tsp. cumin 1½ C. Basmati or Texmati rice 2½ C. chicken broth Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper For the Sauce: 1 C. mayo 2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish ½ tsp. salt ½ tsp. cracked black pepper 1 Tbsp. lemon juice ¼ C. white vinegar 1 C. Ranch dressing ⅓ C. Greek yogurt ⅓ C. sour cream 2 Tbsp. white sugar 3 tsp. dry dill weed
  • For the chicken, whisk together the lemon juice, oregano, coriander, cumin, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Place inside a crock pot and pour sauce over it. Cover and cook until chicken is done (4 hours on high, 6-8 hours on low).
  • For the rice, heat butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Saute the rice for a couple minutes together with the tumeric and cumin, until it begins to brown slightly. Add the chicken broth, cover and reduce heat. Cook 20-25 minutes until liquid has been absorbed.
  • Serve with shredded lettuce, tomato wedges, and pita.


Notes:  The Halal Guys sauce is SO yummy.  It’s a great dip or salad dressing too.  The above recipe makes a whole quart.  Cut it in half if you don’t think you’ll be using it for anything else.  Otherwise, it does keep in the refrigerator for a couple weeks.

halal guys chicken and rice

Thanks to The Gothamist for the sauce recipe

I first posted the Halal Guys Chicken and Rice recipe on