Healthy Butter Chicken – Friday night “take-in”

df gf butter chicken-001

I get complaints from Mr Thermie if I don’t adhere to this dish on Friday nights!  It’s one I tweaked and converted a la thermie from the Australian’s Women’s Weekly Indian Cooking book.  It’s also the one recipe that I know off-by-heart, despite the long list of ingredients required!  I have a few different ways of cooking, depending on how much and what type of chicken I’m using (eg a whole one, or just fillets or thighs).  I’ve included all of the alternatives, including dairy free tweaks.

Serves 6

1. If dairy free, first make some cashew cream by grinding on speed 9-10 for 10 seconds:

  • 120g cashews
  • 10-20g dates (optional)
  • Pinch salt

Add and whizz up on speed 9 / 1 minute, scraping down the sides and lid after 30 seconds:

  • 120g water


Pour/scrape into a small bowl and set aside for now.

* If not dairy free, you can skip this step and use crème fraiche at the end *

2. Add to Thermomix bowl and chop on speed 7 for 2-5 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

  • 2cm piece of ginger washed and cut into ‘coins’
  • 1 onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 chilli (or ¾ tsp chilli powder)
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick or bark
  • 4 cloves (optional)

Add a little oil or butter (if you wish) and sauté / 100deg / speed 1 / 2 minutes.

Image3. Add and cook on 100deg / speed 1 / 2 minutes.

  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbs white vinegar
  • 80g tomato paste/puree
  • 140g Greek (or natural) yogurt (dairy free could substitute with home-made coconut cream – see notes at end)

Image4. Add and cook on 100deg / speed 1 / 10 minutes:

  • 400g can of tomatoes or fresh tomatoes
  • 1 tbs of Kasoori Methi (see tip at the end) – Crush a tbsp of the leaves through your fingers
  • 180g stock (or water + ½ -1 tbs stock powder/paste)


butter chicken cook

5. Meanwhile, dice up and trim off any skin/fat:

  • 750g chicken fillets/thighs

Once the sauce has cooked, add, then purée, increasing up to speed 9 / 1 minute until smooth:

  • cashew cream made earlier or 250g crème fraiche
  • 2 tsp garam masala

butter chicken curry

Add to the bowl and cook 100 deg / speed 1-reverse / 8 minutes:

diced chicken

Once cooked, transfer to a Thermoserver to keep warm or to a pan on the stove to simmer, whilst you cook your rice …

butter chicken in pan

NB:  For a larger family, catering or to freeze extra portions for another day, you could sauté cook 1-1.2kg chicken in a deep saucepan on the stove top. (I tend to use a little stock, rather than oil for this, but it’s up to you!). Often I add a quartered onion and some different coloured peppers to cook in the chicken juices as well, then add the cooked sauce from the TM bowl, pop a lid on and simmer. 

butter chicken in pan 1

Then you can go ahead and cook your rice … don’t bother washing the bowl – the rice steaming water will soak up the residual curry sauce flavour into the rice.

Add the internal steaming basket to the bowl and weigh in:

  • 280g basmati rice (allow approximately 50-70g per person or so – 280g makes enough for 4 dinners + 2 lunch-time portions for us)

Take out and rinse the rice under the tap.  Let it drain.

Place in the internal steaming basket with rice back into the TM bowl add and set to Varoma / speed 4 / 20 minutes (35 minutes for brown rice)

  • 1000-1200g water

If you wish, you could also steam some extra veggies in the varoma dish on top.

butter chicken rice

Cook extra rice, if you wish, freeze the surplus, defrost it later and steam in the varoma until piping hot to get rid of bacteria.  Lovely and fluffy!

To serve

Serve your tender chicken in a smooth, healthy “non-buttery” sauce with fluffy rice.  Enjoy with a couple of poppadums and maybe some naan bread – this can also be made in the Thermie, if you don’t mind a bit of prep a few hours earlier!

naan breads made with rice and tapioca flour-002

Gluten free naan bread


  1. This dish makes plentiful sauce (just over 1L).  We’re quite a ‘saucy’ family, so it’s not a problem for us, but if you find it’s too much, Lonni has a great tip:  she made the curry; froze the excess and will use for herself and the kiddies when hubby is away.  Just need to dice up the chicken, sauté and cook, add the thawed sauce and heat through.  Pop into a Thermoserver whilst steaming some rice and veggies in the Thermomix at the same time …
  2. A tip from Naina:  Buy a box or packet of Kasoori Methi – the dried leaves of the fenugreek plant from a place in North India called Kasoor.  You could usually obtain them from an Asian/Ethnic grocery store.  Naina advises to crush a tablespoon of the leaves through your fingers when adding the tomatoes to the sauce, and have the kasoori methi cook along with the tomatoes and all the spices, before you blitz it all up into creamy smoothness!
  3. For an extra quick dinner, I pre-prepare the sauce, cool and refrigerate, weigh out and have the rice soaking, and have a whole chicken cooking in the slow cooker all day.  All I then have to do at dinner time is:
  • Heat up the sauce for 10 minutes
  • Pour off any stock from the chicken into a separate bowl, de-bone the chicken (retaining the bones) and pop the chicken back into the slow cooker and add the heated sauce from the TM to keep hot
  • Cook the rice in the steaming basket and some veggies in the varoma (spinach is good, then stirred into the curry).
  • Make a stock/bone broth for a soup.  I use this method,, though I prefer to put the bones into the steaming basket to cook

Dairy free tweaks:

Cashew Cream

See Quirky Cooking’s recipe

I use the date option and it is so yummy.  Too yummy.  Be careful you don’t eat it all before adding to your curry!

Coconut Milk – Quirky Cooking Method

– Grind up 300g dried coconut (shredded or dessicated) for 10 seconds on speed 9

– Add water to reach the 2 litre mark, cook for 20 mins 100C speed 4, then strain.

– Repeat with the pulp for a thin milk, but add less water – to 1.5 litre mark – otherwise it’s a bit too thin

Coconut Cream (Tebasile’s Kitchen)

Soak 60 g unsweetened  coconut flakes ( you can grind them before)  in 180 g water for 5 minutes.

Warm for 1-2 minutes / 37 °C / speed 2 and blend for 1 minute / speed 9-10

Butter Chicken and poppadums

2 thoughts on “Healthy Butter Chicken – Friday night “take-in”

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