Butter Chicken

Posted by on Jul 10, 2012 in Chicken, featured, Mains, Recipes | 8 comments

Butter Chicken

I’m not sure why, but Indian cuisine is the kind of food that works in any season.  It is warming and full of comfort during wet winter months (as we are now), but somehow a spiced up “kari” served with a cooling salad and yoghurt works just as well during the summer.

We have several Indian restaurants close to our home, one in particular that we have been dropping into for 15 years.  However, we have been less and less over the last few years simply because there aren’t too many dishes on the menu that are made without onion.

Today I want to share a low fodmap recipe for a most well-known Indian dish that has come to me from one of the ladies that attends a Fructose Malabsorption Support Group.  I was sorry to have not made it to the last meeting as I missed out on Renuka’s Butter Chicken cooking demonstration that she has adapted to suit our onion-free diet.  Thankfully the recipe landed in my inbox so I could try it out at home.



There are 3 steps to making the Butter Chicken: marinating and grilling the chicken, making the spiced tomato sauce, and the final cooking of the chicken in the sauce.



If you can, marinate your chicken overnight in the fridge and make the tomato sauce the day before so the flavours have time to develop.  Renuka’s recipe gives you the choice of marinating your chicken in either a mix of spices or a pre-prepared tandoori paste.  I have tried both and have found the spice mix to be quite subtle in flavour, whereas using a tandoori paste provided a fuller flavour.  Just be sure to check the label of a tandoori paste to make sure there is no onion or shallot and garlic if that concerns you.  The original recipe called for only 4 chicken thigh fillets but I found there was a generous amount of sauce so I adapted the recipe to use more chicken, increasing the marinade quantities to suit.

I will definitely be making this dish all year round 😉



Renuka’s Butter Chicken

adapted from Renuka Oakden’s recipe                                 serves 6-8

I have added some suggestions that you will see below in red.  If you need to keep your dish dairy free, stick with the olive oil and coconut milk.  Otherwise you could add a little butter for flavour and use a lactose free cream or yoghurt in the final cooking.  If your supermarket doesn’t have all the spices then try to find an Indian or Asian grocer that does.


1 kg skinless chicken thighs fillets
Tandoori marinade mix:
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder or Cayenne pepper (I used half this amount)
3 teaspoons coriander powder
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon or cardamom
1 tablespoon olive oil (could use galic infused olive oil)
3 tablespoon lemon juice
Or use 3 tablespoons paste (Renuka recommends Ferns or Mother’s Recipe brands)

500g tomatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil (or 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter)
6 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 mace or 1 teaspoon ground mace
5 cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
3 long green chillies, seeds and veins removed, chopped (I used half this amount)

Final cooking:
1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
1 green chilli, finely chopped (omit if you prefer less heat)
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chilli powder (omit if you prefer less heat)
160ml can light coconut milk (or lactose free reduced fat cream or yoghurt)
salt to taste
2 teaspoons fresh coriander leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves, optional


Trim the chicken fillets of fat and cut into 5cm pieces.  Place the chicken into a bowl or plastic bag with the marinade mix or tandoori paste and mix well.  Leave the chicken to marinate for 2 hours or preferably overnight
Bake the chicken at 200°C or grill for 12 – 15 minutes until just cooked

For the sauce cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon, then roughly chop.  Heat the olive oil in a fry pan and add the tomatoes and other sauce ingredients, cooking until soft and pulpy.  Cool mixture then puree until smooth.  Pass the puree through a sieve and set aside.

For the final cooking, heat the olive oil in a large fry pan or pot.  Add the ginger and green chilli if using; sauté for 20 seconds.  Add the tomato puree, Kashmiri chilli powder, salt and cooked chicken.  Bring to a simmer and add coconut milk or lactose free cream or yoghurt, and fresh coriander and fenugreek if using.  Cook over low heat for 6-7 minutes.

Serve with basmati rice.


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I was pretty excited this weekend to get a little mention in a couple of national newspapers…thought the article might interest you :)

The Age

The Sydney Morning Herald







  1. Is peanut butter okay to use. thought I read somewhere that peanuts were a no no on lowfodmap eating. Love the butter chicken recipe.
    One more question: I can occasionally eat banjos ham salad roll with no problems. I stick to lowfodmap quite religiously. Is it the fructose or glucose in breads, the main problem with tum problems.

    • Hi Lynn,
      I have double-checked with Dr Jaci Barrett of Diet solution who has confirmed the peanuts and peanut butter are low FODMAP.
      Wheat and rye, and foods made from these such as bread, contain fructans. Fructans are chains of fructose molecules. Humans do not produce an enzyme to break fructans up and those of us with IBS and hypersensitive guts can react to the presence of fructans in the gut.
      The presence of glucose in amounts equal or greater than fructose can help with the absorption of fructose; note that this is for fructose molecules and not fructans.
      I hope this help clarify.
      Kind regards,

  2. Hi there,
    I was told by my dietician that peanuts are a definite no for a low fodmap diet. this is because peanuts are not actually a nut, they are a type of legume(bean).

    • Hi Alana,
      This week I received the new 3rd edition of Monash University’s booklet, The Low FOMDAP Diet. Monash is where so much of the research and food testing is happening.
      According to the booklet peanuts are fine and peanut butter in serving sizes of 4 tablespoons or less are fine for a low FODMAP diet.

      • Thanks for the update Nat. Am very new to all of this – had first ever dietician appt only 2 days ago! Appreciate the super quick response.

  3. This looks gorgeous! But coconut milk? According to Dr Sue Shepherd it is high fructose and not suitable. Personally I find I tend to react to it :(

    • Hi Miranda,
      Several years back coconut milk and cream used to be listed as high in FODMAPs and to be avoided. It has since been retested and, although it contains low levels of polyols, it is unlikely to be problematic for many people. I have sourced this information from a Monash University researcher;
      see: http://www.lowfodmap.com/c%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%93-fodmap/
      As always if you feel that these foods cause you a problem give them a miss and perhaps try the other option I mentioned above.
      Cheers, Nat

  4. Thanks for sharing this recipe! We made it last night just as directed, and it was so good. Comforting, mild, and fragrant. Husband and I agreed that of the half dozen Indian/Indian-inspired dishes I’ve made, this one was the best! I’m looking forward to leftovers for lunch.

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