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Butter Chicken - Chef Recipe by Adam D'Sylva

Butter Chicken - Chef Recipe by Adam D'Sylva



1kg chicken thigh fillets
150g cashews, soaked overnight then simmered in water for 30 minutes. Drain and pound cashews in a mortar and pestle until a smooth paste, or blitz in a blender.


250g plain yoghurt
1 Tbs crushed ginger
1 glove garlic, crushed
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 Tbs cashew paste
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp fenugreek leaf powder
Juice of one lemon
Salt and pepper
2 Tbs vegetable oil

Butter Sauce:

100g butter
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 red onion, sliced
1 bay leaf
1 cardamon pod
Half a cinnamon quill
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 garlic clove crushed
Small knob of ginger, finely chopped
1/4 tsp mace powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp sweet paprika
1-2 Tbs chilli paste
1/4 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp fenugreek leaf powder
1/4 tsp cumin powder
2 x 420g tin of whole peeled tomatoes
Cashew paste
150g butter
250mL chicken stock


Combine all marinade ingredients and add chicken thighs, coating each thigh really well with the marinade.

Allow thighs to marinate in a covered, non-reactive container, in the fridge over-night.

Butter Sauce:

In a large saucepan melt butter with the vegetable oil and allow the butter to come to a high heat. Add the whole spices, stirring often until they are fragrant, then add the sliced onion.

Cook the onions until they begin to colour. To the golden onions, add the crushed garlic and ginger. Stirring frequently to ensure they do not burn, allow the onions and ginger to soften and meld into the onions. Add the remaining cashew paste with the chilli paste and stir through the onions. Allow this to really combine and begin to take on a nutty, deep flavour.

Continue to cook for 5-10 minutes before adding the powdered spices and to cook until the oil begins to split from the solids. Once this happens add the tinned tomatoes and continue to cook on a low to medium heat for one and half hours.

After cooking the sauce, remove the cinnamon and cardamon pod and blend in a high pressure blender until smooth. Return to a clean saucepan, along with the extra 150g butter and chicken stock.

When ready to cook the chicken, cook under a hot grill or on a hot charcoal barbeque. We would normally do this in the tandoor oven at Tonka, however a great result can be achieved on a barbeque.

The chicken needs to be browned with beautiful slightly-burnt, crispy edges. However as the cooking continues in the sauce you don't need to thoroughly cook through.

Remove and slice into rough chunks.

Place chicken into the sauce and finish cooking in the sauce.

Serve with rice and papadums.

Recipe provided by Tonka

Photo Credits: Adam D'Sylva from TONKA Restaurant