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Curry – Monica's Spice Diary – Indian Food Blog

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken – the celebratory, spice laced comfort dish that satisfies every single time. It’s quite possibly the most famous and popular Indian dish too. The ultimate Butter Chicken requires a perfect balance of creaminess, sweetness & heat. All levels need to sing together harmoniously to create a decadent dish that you want to stick your face in.

So this wasn’t a “passed down” recipe, it’s one I’ve spent a little time perfecting in my own kitchen. After much tweaking, recipe developing and eating, (I’d like to think) I’m now onto a winner!

Interestingly Butter Chicken is not a “home-style” dish – it was created relatively recently (in the 1970’s) in a restaurant in New Delhi as a way or dressing up unsold tandoori chicken. It was an instant hit and over time became the dish most synonymous with Indian food all over the world.

If you missed the live cookery class of me teaching this, but want to catch up and watch, you can do so by clicking here. Also, if you have any dish suggestions for the next class which will be on 24th July, comment below or drop me a message on Instagram or Facebook. I would love to hear from you. In the meantime, happy cooking! x

Butter Chicken

Servings 4 people


  • Food processor (optional)
  • Pestle & Mortar (optional)
  • Heavy bottom pan


For the Chicken Marinade:

  • 500 g skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into small pieces
  • 2 tbsp yoghurt
  • Juice of 1/4 lime/lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic grated
  • 2" ginger grated
  • 3/4 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder/mild paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp oil

For the Butter Masala:

  • 1 good tbsp butter
  • 3 cloves optional
  • 4 green cardamoms optional
  • 3 cms cinnamon stick/cassia bark optional
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder optional
  • 2 onions (approx 175g) finely diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 garlic cloves grated
  • 3" ginger grated
  • 8 tbsp tomato passata/blitzed plum tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp double concentrate tomato puree
  • 2 bird eye chillies 1 finely chopped & 1 halved vertically
  • 12 cashews soaked in hot water for 10 minutes, made into a thick smooth paste (using a food processor)
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/4 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder/mild paprika
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt or according to taste
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp double (heavy) cream
  • 3 good pinches kasuri methi/sun-dried fenugreek leaves

To Finish:

  • 1 black cardamom crushed into a powder (optional)
  • Juice of 1/4 lime
  • Handful fresh coriander finely chopped


  • Turn your grill on at the maximum temperature. Place all "marinade" ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Ideally allow to marinade or 2-3 hours (overnight is best). Then, place the marinated chicken on a foil lined oven tray. Grill for 10-12 minutes or until just fully cooked (the chicken should be white all the way through with a slight char all over). Remove from grill and keep aside.
  • In a pan, heat the butter and allow to melt. Using a pestle & mortar, coarsely crush open the cloves and green cardamoms and add to the pan along with the nutmeg powder and cinnamon. Then, add the onion along with 1 tsp salt. Cook on a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until soft and translucent.
  • Now add the garlic and ginger and mix. Cook for 3-4 minutes until light golden in colour. Add the chillies and mix. Then gradually add the tomato passata and tomato puree. Now add the creamy cashew paste and mix well. Continue to cook for 3-4 minutes on a low/medium heat.
  • Add in half of the fresh coriander now. Then add the garam masala, coriander powder, Kashmiri chilli powder/paprika, turmeric, salt and sugar mix well. Add in 5-6 tbsp water and allow the spices to cook for 1-2 minutes. Now grind the the kasuri methi into a powder using your fingers and then add to the pan and mix.
  • Now add the cream and mix well. When you see the oil begin to separate from the masala paste, at the edges, add the grilled chicken as well as any juices on your grill tray.
  • Add ¼ cup (60ml) water and bring to boil (I like to deglaze the grill tray with water and use that for maximum flavour). Pop a lid on the pan and allow the chicken to absorb the flavour of the masala for 3-5 minutes on a medium heat.
  • Finish with black cardamom powder, lime and fresh coriander. Allow the butter chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes before digging in. Serve with steamed basmati rice or hot and fresh naans!


If you are vegetarian, instead of chicken, use 225g paneer and 2 handfuls of peas. You do not need to marinate the paneer so you will not need the marination ingredients.
Using a good quality tomato passata and tomato puree makes a big difference in this dish!

South Indian King Prawn Thokku

This time last year I was in Chennai. I spent my whole Summer there and it was such a memorable time for me. The cuisine of the South is beautiful and vast. There are so many micro-cuisines within this region. Tamil, Keralan, Chettinad, Managlorian, Karnataka – and that’s just to name a few!

I learnt this dish from a Tamilian chef whilst I was out there and I have now given it a couple of my own tweaks. It’s a little bit special so give it a try. You can use paneer instead of prawns and it still works a treat.

I taught this during yesterday’s live cookery class. If you want to watch the live class again, you can do so by clicking here. Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts and share pictures of your recreations on InstaTwitter or Facebook.

Oh and mark your calendars and join me for my next live cook-along class on 26th June. Keep posted to my social media to see what we will be making.

Happy cooking y’all x

South Indian King Prawn Thokku


  • Non stick pan
  • Wooden spoon


  • 200 g raw king prawns skinless & deveined. If you are veggy you can use 225g paneer cut into cubes.
  • salt
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp yoghurt
  • Oil for cooking
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion 100g, very thinly sliced
  • 20 fresh curry leaves optional (you can add dried but soak in warm water for 10 minutes then drain, ahead of time)
  • 2 cms ginger grated
  • 2 big cloves garlic grated
  • Small bunch of fresh coriander optional, you just need the stems
  • 1 small tomato diced
  • 2 tsp tomato puree
  • 1-2 chillies as per your taste, finely diced,
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • Water


  • Place prawns in a bowl. Add the yoghurt and sprinkle on 1/2tsp salt, 1/2 tsp turmeric and 1/4 tsp chilli powder and mix well. Keep aside
  • Heat 4tbsp oil in the pan. Once hot, add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, 1/2 of the curry leaves and onions. (The spices should sizzle as soon as they go in the pan).
  • Mix well and add ¼ tsp salt. Cook the onions for for 3-4 minutes until translucent.
  • Now add the ginger and garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes. (If you feel your pan is looking dry or your ingredients are catching, add a little more oil or add a little water).
  • Once the onions, ginger and garlic look light golden in colour, add the chopped tomato and chilli. Finely chop the coriander stems and add them to the pan too.
  • Now place the tomato puree in a small bowl and about 1/4 cup (60ml) of water. Mix well to form a watery paste, then add this to the pan.
  • Continue to cook on medium heat – you will see the masala paste thicken. When you notice the masala paste release its oil around the edges, lower the heat.
  • Now add 1/4 – 1/2tsp salt (as per your taste), paprika, coriander powder and sugar and continue to cook for 30 seconds. (Again, if you feel the spices are catching, add a little water)
  • Now add the marinated prawns and increase the heat to medium/high. Mix well and cook for a minute. At this point add 1/2 cup (120ml) of water as well as the remaining curry leaves. Mix again and place a lid on top. After a couple of minutes, mix once again and allow to cook for a further 2 minutes with the lid on.
  • You will see the sauce will have thickened and should look nice and glossy. Once the prawns are completely cooked through, Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
  • Turn the heat off and serve with steamed basmati rice, naan or chapatis.

Palak Paneer

I really enjoyed teaching how to make this dish during yesterday’s LIVE cookery class. It’s such an easy, quick “throw together recipe” which is perfect for a weeknight meal or as part of a more elaborate spread.

As it’s a dry dish, it also works incredibly well as a filling in a wrap or even in a pitta bread! Palak paneer pitta pockets anyone?

I received an amazing response from those who cooked along with me during the live class. If you missed it but want to watch, you can view it right here. Let me know how it goes and don’t forget to share a photo of your recreation on Insta, Twitter or Facebook.

Oh and FYI, I will now be doing live classes every other Friday so my next live cook-along will be on 29th May. I am working on an exciting project in the mean time and am excited to share the details very soon.

Happy cooking y’all.

Palak Paneer


To toast paneer

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 225 g paneer cut into 2 cm cubes
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • salt

To make the palak paneer

  • 3-4 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp butter/ghee optional
  • 1 tsp nigella seeds
  • 3 cloves garlic very finely chopped
  • 2cm ginger very finely chopped
  • 1 small tomato finely diced
  • 3 tbsp tomato pasata
  • 1 tsp salt or according to taste
  • 3/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 300 g fresh spinach washed, dried & finely chopped/shredded
  • 1-2 green chillies finely chopped

For optional garlic tempering

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 clove garlic cut into paper thin slices
  • 3 good pinches dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi) optional


  • To toast the paneer, heat oil in a pan (ideally non stick) on a low/medium heat setting. Once hot add the paneer, cumin seeds and a pinch of salt. Allow the paneer to cook for 10-15 seconds until it is light golden in colour. Then turn over each piece and cook on the other side. (You want just a light golden skin on each piece). Remove from pan and keep aside.
  • In the same pan, heat up oil and butter/ghee. Once hot, add the nigella seeds, garlic & ginger. Keep mixing continuously on a medium heat until light golden in colour. (It won't take long – do not allow it to brown too much as it will burn and become bitter).
  • Now add the chopped tomato and pasata and cook for 2 minutes on a medium heat whilst mixing. Then add the salt and remaining spices.
  • Once you see the oil begin to release at the edge of the tomato paste, add the toastetoasted paneer pieces and green chilli and mix. Now begin to add the spinach a couple of handfuls at a time, mixing as you do it.
  • Once all the spinach is in the pan and has started to wilt, reduce to a low/medium heat and place a lid on top. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring halfway through. The spinach will start to release its water. Keep cooking until all water has evaporated and you have a dry dish where the palak and paneer pieces are both well combined. Taste for salt/chilli and adjust accordingly.
  • For the tempering, heat oil in a small pan. Then add the garlic slivers and dried fenugreek. Keep stirring and as soon as you see the garlic take on a light golden colour, turn off the heat. Drizzle over the paneer palak and serve with your favourite Indian breads.