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Butter Chicken Recipe from MasterChef SA’s Deena Naidoo

Deena Naidoo plated up in the first episode of Master Chef SA with a Butter Chicken in a Cashew and Almond Sauce with a Garlic and Herb Naan Recipe

Okay I am not going to beat about the curry bush with this one. Butter Chicken is one of the finest dishes around and there is not a man among us who would disagree. When it comes to nourishing comfort food that is quick and easy to make the Butter Chicken stands head and shoulders above most other meals. Murray might contest that with a Lancashire Hotpot but he has English heritage so I’ll give him that.

The art of a good Butter Chicken recipe is in it’s simplicity and the temperate use of spices. This comes naturally to Deena as this is a dish that forms part of his culinary heritage.

We’d definitely recommend you give this a go, if you have the misfortune of never tasting a Butter Chicken recipe before, this is your opportunity.

Serves: 2   Preparation: 15 min   Cooking: 20 min


Onion 1
Yellow Mustard Seeds 1 teaspoon(s)
Cumin Seeds 1 teaspoon(s)
Cinnamon Stick 1
Turmeric Powder 1/2 teaspoon(s)
Chilli Powder 1 teaspoon(s)
Ground Coriander 1 teaspoon(s)
Crushed Ginger 2 teaspoon(s)
Crushed Garlic 2 teaspoon(s)
Cashew Paste 20 ml
Tomatoes 150 ml
Cream 125 ml
Chicken Fillets 300 g
For the Naan Bread
Cake Flour 250 ml
Baking Powder 1 teaspoon(s)
Castor Sugar 1 teaspoon(s)
Salt a pinch(es)
Milk 50 ml
Olive Oil 1 tablespoon(s)
Cumin Seeds 1 teaspoon(s)
Melted Butter 1 tablespoon(s)


For the Butter Chicken

  1. Heat up a little oil in a frying pan
  2. Toast the mustard seeds and cinnamon
  3. Then add the chopped onion and cumin seeds
  4. When the onion is soft and golden add the turmeric, chilli powder and ground coriander
  5. Add the garlic and ginger paste and stir in well
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes and cashew paste (you can also use some almond paste too)
  7. Bring to a simmer and cook for 3 minutes
  8. Remove from the heat and blend
  9. Return to the heat and add the chicken fillets
  10. Cook for 5-7 minutes
  11. Season with salt
  12. Pour in the cream and simmer for 3-4 minutes

For the Naan Bread

  1. Sift the dry cake flour and baking powder into a bowl
  2. Add the castor sugar and a pinch of salt
  3. Pour in the milk
  4. Add the cumin seeds
  5. Mix and then knead into a dough
  6. Cover and rest for 10 minutes
  7. Roll out
  8. Bake in the oven at 200°C for a few minutes until ready
  9. Brush with melted butter before serving and some crushed  garlic

A little wiki about Butter Chicken.

Butter Chicken is one of the mainstay’s of Indian and Pakistani cuisine and has gained in popularity all over the world.

The origins of Butter Chicken have been traced back specifically to the Punjabi region of India where it was introduced by Simon Mahli Chahal in Mareelun, Delhi.

Butter chicken is traditionally served with naan, roti, parathas, roomali roti or rice.

It should not be confused with chicken tikka masala,which originated in the United Kingdom.

It is thought that butter chicken was hastily prepared by a Delhi eatery chef post dinner time for a VIP customer who wanted “some” chicken dish. The chef only had half of a Tandoori chicken which he tossed with liberal amounts of butter, tomato, and garam masalas to improvise for an delicious delicacy he was supposed to make for the ruler of Mareelun. He forgot to buy enough ingredients so he ended up with this dish.

Though various versions exists for the recipe, typically dressed chicken (with or without bones) is marinated overnight in a yoghurt and spice mixture usually including garam masala, ginger, garlic paste, lemon or lime, pepper, coriander, cumin, turmeric and chilli. The chicken is traditionally cooked in a tandoor, but can also be grilled, roasted or pan fried. The sauce, is made by heating and mixing butter, tomato puree, and various spices, often including cumin, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, pepper, fenugreek and fresh cream. Cashew paste can also be added, and will make the gravy thicker.

Of all the spices added to the dish it is dried fenugreek leaves that makes the greatest contribution to the characteristic flavour of the dish. Once the sauce is prepared, the prepared chicken is chopped and cooked until the gravy and chicken have blended. The dish may be garnished with white butter, fresh cream, sliced green chillies and Qasuri Methi.

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Some say he holds the world record for potatoes peeled in a minute. It is believed he set this record as a 6 year old while living at the ANC camp in Tanzania during the 1970's