An amazing butter chicken recipe with all the flavour, yet with no cream! Healthy and delicious!

Butter Chicken without Cream (Murgh Makhani)

Author: Dini from The Flavor Bender
An insanely delicious butter chicken recipe, without the cream. So it's a healthier version, but with all the flavour. This will be a family favourite, guaranteed!
Print Recipe



  • 1 lb bone-in or boneless chicken boneless chicken cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3.5 oz of plain yoghurt
  • 2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp of Kashmiri chilli powder this is how you get a red colour that turns orange, but if you cannot find this, sub it with 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp of salt


  • 1 inch ginger sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic sliced or minced
  • 3/4 cup of cashews soaked overnight
  • 1/2 a large onion sliced
  • 1 tbsp of garam masala
  • 300 g of canned diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp of sugar
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder more if you like it spicy
  • 2 tbsp lemon/lime juice
  • 1/2 stick of butter OR 4 tbsp vegetable oil

Cheat's Garam Masala (if you cannot find authentic garam masala powder)

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp of ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 star of anise or 1/4 tsp ground anise seeds


  • Mix the chicken with the marinade ingredients and keep it covered in the fridge overnight. Return it to room temperature before cooking.
  • On very high heat, heat 2 tbsp of butter and add the chicken when the butter is hot (leaving out as much of the marinade as possible - but don't discard the marinade). Let the chicken brown on one side, and only cook partially and leave it aside. (You can also do this on a broiler tray in the oven to mimic a Tandoor oven) - You can opt out of this step of browning the chicken, if you like.
  • Grind the cashews (without the water), onion, ginger and garlic together to form a paste. Set aside.
  • In a saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of butter and add all the spices, and then mix for about 10 secs till you can smell them.
  • Add the diced tomatoes with sugar and salt and cook on medium-high while stirring to reduce the liquid content. You want to cook out the raw tomato flavour as much as possible.
  • When the tomato has reduced and looks thick, add the ground cashew mix and the lemon/lime juice and colouring (if using). Stir until the gravy/sauce becomes thick and smooth.
  • Add the browned chicken (or the uncooked chicken if you skipped step 2) with the remaining marinade and stir through. Let it simmer (covered) for about 20-30 minutes (for big bone-in pieces) or 10-15 minutes (for 1 inch pieces). Add more water if it's too thick.
  • Optional - add another heaping tablespoon of yoghurt and mix it in.
  • Serve while hot, with some whisked yoghurt drizzled on top, and some chopped cilantro.
  • Serve with steamed rice or naan.