No Chicken Butter Chicken Recipe · i am a food blog (2024)

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Chicken is swapped out for nutrient and protein packed tofu and paneer for a vegetarian take on butter chicken.

I spent the holiday hanging out wrapped up in blankets binge watching The Final Table– a Netflix cooking competition show featuring top chefs making signature dishes from around the world. I chose it on a whim to have on in the background while I was doodling on my iPad, but it turned out so binge-able that I went ahead and watched all the episodes in about 3 days. That’s not to say that I thought it was agood show, it was one of those trashy I can’t stop watching and maybe it’s really bad but also kinda good shows.

There was lots of cheesy dramatic music and at the same time, no drama. Every chef is completely respectful and talented and there’s no backstabbing or throwing people under the bus. They take criticism well and take losing even better. I felt inspired by the fact that every time someone lost, they took it as learning experience. Plus, there were plates after plates of pretty food. I especially loved when the contestants had to make their versions of a country’s signature dish. Afterwards I totally wanted to make paella, pasta, and most of all, butter chicken.

I’ve made butter chicken quite a few times now and I’m hooked. But I was intrigued by the no chicken butter chicken concept of the show and wanted to try my hand at it. At first I was going to use cauliflower, but then I thought that a little bit of protein goes a long way so I went with firm tofu. Mike also suggested paneer – Indian cheese that’s similar to halloumi so then I thought, “why not both?”

I whipped up a quickmakhani gravy – the sauce that is used in butter chicken, crisped up some tofu and paneer and popped them into the sauce. It was SO GOOD. Served up with a bit of rice and naan and I didn’t even miss the chicken at all. It was maybe even better than butter chicken?! The best part is you can put in anything you like into the sauce. If you’re feeling cauliflower, roast some then pop it in. Or maybe some sautéed kale? Definitely not traditional, but quick, tasty, and perfect for warming up.

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No Chicken Butter Chicken Recipe
serves 4

  • 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 5 or 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, adjust this to your spice preference
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • oil for the pan
  • 1 package firm tofu
  • 1 package paneer
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), cut into cubes
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Note: You don’t have to crisp up the tofu and paneer, but it does add a nice bit of texture to the dish. If you’re short on time, I recommend crisping up the paneer and skipping out on crisping the tofu. Also, feel free to customize and go for just paneer or just tofu or any other vegetable you love.

In a large saucepan, lightly sauté the garlic, ginger,1 teaspoon garam masala, turmeric, paprika, cumin, cayenne, and salt.

Stir in the tomatoes, bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer gently while you fry the tofu and paneer.

Cut the paneer and tofu into cubes. Heat up a bit of oil in a non-stick pan over medium high heat and fry the tofu and paneer cubes in batches, until golden. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Use an immersion blender and blend the sauce until smooth. Alternately, carefully transfer to a blender and blend until smooth.

When the sauce is smooth, stir in the butter, cream, and the last teaspoon of garam masala. The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Stir in the crispy tofu and paneer. Top with the cilantro and enjoy with rice and naan.


  1. thefolia says:

    January 10, 2019 at 11:29 am

    It’s all about the sauce and naan anyways! Happy feasting!


  2. January 10, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    I always order butter paneer instead of chicken! Love the tofu addition, can’t wait to make!


  3. Lyndsay says:

    January 15, 2019 at 11:59 am

    Look at your little crispy tofu cubes! Teddy would love those. I am inspired, this dish is perfect for our veggie crew! xo


    1. Stephanie says:

      January 16, 2019 at 10:33 am

      ooh yes!!! i think you guys would love it. but tone down the spice LOL


  4. Margaret says:

    October 28, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    Made this almost to exact except added onion to the garlic and ginger. The flavour is fantastic and this is hands down the best indian meal I have made to date. Thank you!!! Used paneer only (not a tofu fan). I noticed that in your directions you reference adding tomatoes twice. I added them after I heated up the onions, ginger, garlic and spices. Trust that was correct?


    1. Stephanie says:

      October 29, 2019 at 10:35 am

      yes to the tomatoes! so happy you loved it and thanks so much for leaving a comment :)


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No Chicken Butter Chicken Recipe · i am a food blog (2024)


Why is it called butter chicken if there's no butter? ›

It was originally created by Kundan Lal Gujral, a chef at Moti Mahal restaurant in Delhi, in 1947. Although murgh makhani translates to butter chicken, its name has nothing to do with butter. Instead, it gets its name from how much yoghurt and butter are used in its recipe (the word makhani means luxurious).

What is healthier butter chicken or tikka masala? ›

Regarding nutrition, Butter Chicken and Tikka Masala are high in calories, fat, and sodium. Butter Chicken has more fat and calories than Tikka Masala due to the use of cream and butter in the sauce. However, Tikka Masala has more sodium than Butter Chicken due to the use of canned tomato puree.

What thickens butter chicken? ›

Yoghurt or heavy cream:

To achieve a creamy, tangy curry sauce, incorporate yoghurt or heavy cream. Stir them in gently, as high heat may cause curdling. These ingredients are ideal for creating a luxurious texture in dishes like butter chicken or tikka masala.

What is butter chicken sauce made of? ›

Water, Tomato, Cream, Unsalted butter, Vegetable oil, Sugar, Modified corn starch, Concentrated tomato purée, Spices, Dried onion, Ginger, Garlic, Salt, Lactic acid (acidulant), Paprika extract, Citric acid (acidulant), Dried fenugreek leaf.

Is butter chicken not healthy? ›

Is butter chicken good for the heart? Both butter and cream are high in saturated fat. High intakes of saturated fat increase blood cholesterol levels and the chance of heart disease. Relying on your recipe, one serving of butter chicken may include about 28 grams of whole fat and 12 grams of saturated fat.

Is tikka masala the same as butter chicken? ›

The main difference between butter chicken and tandoori chicken tikka masala is the level of creaminess; butter chicken is much creamier, whereas chicken tikka masala relies on tomatoes and other spices, giving it its earthy and spicy flavor profile.

What is the healthiest Indian food? ›

Dishes like daal (lentil curry), chana masala (chickpea curry), and rajma (kidney bean curry) are excellent vegetarian options that provide essential nutrients while keeping calorie counts reasonable.

What is the best Indian dish? ›

With endless options for must-have Indian foods to try, we have put together our top picks of foods to try at an Indian restaurant:
  • Papad (also known as Papadum) Papad is an Indian version of a tortilla chip. ...
  • Samosa. ...
  • Chicken Tikka Masala. ...
  • Daal Makhani. ...
  • Garlic Naan. ...
  • Gulab Jamun.
Jan 27, 2023

What to eat at an Indian restaurant when on a diet? ›

Best 5 Lowest Calorie Indian Food You'll Love
  • Tandoori Chicken. A classic Indian dish, tandoori chicken is both low in calories and bursting with flavour. ...
  • Vegetable Biriyani. Vegetable biriyani is a delicious and healthy Indian dish with flavour and low calories. ...
  • Chana masala. ...
  • Raita. ...
  • Aloo gobi.

Why is my butter chicken tasteless? ›

As you have discovered, even a heavily spiced dish can taste bland if there is not enough salt or umami flavouring. In the case of your Butter Chicken recipe, first of all I'd ensure the spices you use are fresh, and clearly have an aroma. Stale spices won't taste of much. Secondly, a good dish is a balanced dish.

Why add cashews to butter chicken? ›

In many recipes for butter chicken, copious amounts of butter and heavy cream supply richness, but we do as we were taught in India and use cashews pureed with a small amount of water until smooth. The nut puree adds creaminess without making the dish heavy.

What is a substitute for tomato paste in butter chicken? ›

You don't have to dash out to the store if you're out of tomato paste; tomato sauce and tomato puree are both an excellent substitute. For every 1 tablespoon of tomato paste needed, use 3 tablespoons of tomato puree or sauce.

What is the best store bought butter chicken sauce? ›

What's the best butter chicken sauce?
  • Nutrition Comment: ...
  • Overall rating: Best – best for nutrition, taste and cost.
  • Overall rating: Second – for nutrition, taste and cost.
  • Overall rating: Third – for nutrition, taste and cost.
Jun 17, 2017

Why does butter chicken taste so good? ›

Butter chicken is made with a spiced tomato and butter sauce, which does in fact give it the sweet, creamy and buttery taste.

Why is butter chicken so orange? ›

The raw chicken is marinated in a mixture of yogurt and the spice tandoori masala. Cayenne pepper, red chili powder or Kashmiri red chili powder is used to give it a fiery red hue. A higher amount of turmeric produces an orange colour.

Does butter chicken contain butter? ›

Unlike most Indian curries where the preparation of the base starts with a blend of onion and a ginger garlic paste cooked in oil, butter chicken uses tomato as a base and is cooked in butter, giving it a slightly sweet flavor.

What is butter chicken called in America? ›

For as far back as I can remember, chicken makhani — or butter chicken as it's more commonly known — has been a premiere dish for Indian cuisine in the United States. Oftentimes, it's the only item that non-Desis can mention by name, and their love for the rich curry runs deep.

How did butter chicken originate? ›

Monish Gujral says his grandfather invented butter chicken while experimenting with ways to freshen up unsold tandoori chicken, which could quickly dry out. "So he wanted to put it in a gravy so it could be served later." He says his grandfather Kundan Lal Gujral created the dish way before he ever came to India.

What do they call butter chicken in England? ›

One of these is a style of chicken which is known as butter chicken in India and chicken tikka masala in the UK. The inventors of these two dishes came from what is today Pakistan. Chicken tikka masala is made of chicken that has been roasted and then served in a rich curry “sauce”.

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