• Butter chicken with mint yoghurt and pickled onions (China Squirrel)Source: China Squirrel

This recipe is passed down from my father. The curry sauce is pureed then sieved so it's silky smooth, with the addition of butter, cream and milk for richness.






Skill level

Average: 3.4 (417 votes)


Chicken marinade

  • 250 g (1 cup) natural yoghurt
  • 2 tsp finely grated ginger
  • 2 tsp finely grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 4 skinless chicken thigh fillets, cut into 3-4 cm cubes 



  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 green cardamom pods, bruised
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder
  • 10-12 raw cashew nuts
  • 2 medium red onions, coarsely chopped
  • 3 cm piece ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 small green chillies, finely chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • ¼ tsp red chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp masala blend (see Note)
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 75 g butter
  • 125 ml (½ cup) thickened cream, plus 1 tbsp for garnish
  • 250 ml (1 cup) 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp honey (optional)
  • 1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves, crushed
  • 100 g unsalted butter, plus extra to garnish
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves, coarsely chopped 


Pickled onions

  • 1 small Spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) white vinegar
  • 125 ml (½ cup) water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp white sugar
  • 1 pinch red chilli powder 


Mint yoghurt

  • 250 g (1 cup) plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1-2 tbsp thinly sliced mint leaves
  • 1-2 tbsp thinly sliced coriander leaves
  • ½ tsp toasted cumin seeds, roughly crushed
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper


  • cooked basmati rice, to serve
  • warm paratha, to serve
  • fresh sliced cucumber, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time: 30 minutes

For the chicken marinade, preheat the oven to 200ºC (180ºC fan-forced).

In a large bowl, mix the yoghurt, ginger and garlic paste, lemon juice, oil and chilli powder. Add the chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (or preferably overnight).

Transfer the chicken to a baking dish and roast for about 10-12 minutes until it is almost cooked but still a bit pink (as it is cooked further later).

For the curry, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the cardamom, cinnamon, Kashmiri red chilli powder and cashews, and cook for 15 seconds.

Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 2-3 minutes, but don’t allow the onion to brown.

Add the ginger, garlic and chilli and cook for 30 seconds, stirring so they don’t burn.

Add the tomato, red chilli powder, coriander, garam masala, kitchen king and sugar and cook for 5 minutes; if the mixture starts bubbling rapidly, add about 60 ml (¼ cup) water and continue to cook.

Pour the mixture into a blender and blend until smooth, adding a few tablespoons of water to thin if necessary. Strain for a smooth consistency.

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over low heat, add the curry sauce and roasted chicken and warm through until simmering.

Add the cream, milk and honey and stir through.

When the sauce returns to a simmer, add the fenugreek and remove the pot from the heat.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves, some cream and a teaspoon of butter.

Serve with the accompaniments.            

For the pickled onions, combine the vinegar, water, salt, sugar and red chilli powder, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve. Add the onion and mix well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

For the mint yoghurt, combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and serve chilled.


Cook’s notes

• I like to use Kitchen King Masala brand, available at Indian grocers, but you can use any masala blend.


Photography, styling and food preparation by China Squirrel


This recipe is from The Chefs' Line - a brand new series airing weeknights at 6pm on SBS. Can the passion of a home cook beat the skills of a professional chef? Missed all the action? Catch-up online and get all the recipes #TheChefsLine.

This recipe has been edited by SBS Food and may differ slightly from the series.