Old Delhi-style Butter Chicken by Vivek Singh

Old Delhi-style Butter Chicken by Vivek Singh from Spice at Home

Vegetarian Option- Old Delhi-style butter roasted cauliflower


2 x  free-range young chickens (poussin), skinned, cut in half along backbone (or 800g boned chicken thighs, halved).  We are going to spatchcock the chickens so that they will roast quickly.  The sauce is made separately and the chicken and roasting juices added later.  We can remove some sauce before chicken is added for vegetarians who will be served roasted cauliflower with the old Delhi style butter sauce

 For the marinade

80g full-fat Greek yogurt

1 tbsp crushed fresh ginger

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1½ tsp salt

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp red chilli powder

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp garam masala

For the sauce

1kg tomatoes, halved or can used canned tomatoes

5cm piece of ginger, half crushed and half finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled

4 green cardamom pods

5 cloves

1 bay leaf

1 tbsp red chilli powder

80g butter, diced

2 green chillies, slit lengthways

75ml single cream

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves, crushed between fingertips

½ tsp garam masala

1 tbsp sugar


 Make small cuts all over the chicken pieces to help the marinade penetrate. 

Mix all marinade ingredients in a deep ovenproof dish. Smear chicken with marinade, cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Cook the chicken for 13-15 minutes. You may need to turn the pieces after eight to 10 minutes to ensure they colour evenly. The chicken does not need to be completely cooked at this point as it will continue to cook in the sauce. 

 Cut the chicken into smaller pieces. Strain off the juices through a fine sieve and set aside.

For the sauce, place the tomatoes in a pan with 125ml water, the crushed ginger, garlic, cardamom, cloves and bay leaf and simmer for about 10 minutes over medium heat until the tomatoes have disintegrated. Pick out the larger spices, then blend with a hand-held blender and pass it through a sieve for a smooth purée. Return the purée to a clean pan, add the chilli powder and simmer for 12-15 minutes. It should slowly begin to thicken.

When the sauce turns glossy, add the chicken pieces and the roasting juices. Then add 200-250ml water and simmer for three to five minutes until the sauce turns glossy and water is absorbed.

Whisk in the butter, a couple of pieces at a time, and simmer for six to eight minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Add the chopped ginger, green chillies and cream and simmer for a minute or two taking care that the sauce does not split. Stir in the salt, fenugreek and garam masala, then check the seasoning and add the sugar. Serve with naan bread or pilau rice.