Butter Chicken: The Quintessentially Malaysian Kind

I learned how to make this dish after realising that I have officially outgrown standing in line for a RM20 plate of Malaysian Chinese-style Butter Chicken from a certain unassuming restaurant in SS15.

I figured it was about time I gave up my spot in the line to make way for other younger, more hopeful people in their early 20s trying to get in on what feels like a rite of passage for anyone who has ever been to that side of Subang Jaya.

Like most people in their late 20s in Malaysia who are struggling to keep their passions alive while being economical and working 2 very unnecessarily demanding jobs, I went home to my dark little den with a bag full of ingredients that I thought might work for me to re-create this dish and went to town.

And no, this is not even remotely similar to the other butter chicken (also known as Murgh Makhani). But it is still a delightful time for everyone at my dining table when I make this.

Butter Chicken

Ingredients (serves 3-4)

For the chicken pieces (A):
2 chicken breasts (cut into bite sized cubes)
1 tbsp Shaoxing cooking wine (you can opt to use white vinegar. I occassionally omit this step completely when I’m out of both.)
1 tbsp paprika powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 egg
Pepper (white pepper, preferably)

For the flour mix (B):
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup corn starch
1 tbsp paprika powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
Cayenne pepper for heat (optional)

For the sauce (C):
2 tbsp butter (salted/unsalted/whatever you’ve got in the fridge. It really does not matter)
450ml evaporated milk ( I usually use the whole 450ml bottle because I LOVE the sauce. But feel free to reduce this if this feels like a little much for you.)
1 tbsp of sugar
4 garlic cloves (minced)
4 bird’s eye chillies cut into small rings (if 4 is too daunting, use half or just 1 of these for flavour’s sake)
1-2 sprigs curry leaves

1. In a bowl, add all the ingredients listed under (A). Mix well, leave to marinate for about 10-20 minutes (or longer, if you’re way more patient than me).

2. In a separate bowl, mix together all the ingredients needed for the flour mix (B). While the chicken pieces sit in the marinate for a little longer, fill a frying pan with just enough oil to deep fry the chicken pieces on medium heat.

3. Dip the marinated chicken pieces in the flour mix until’s fully coated. Dust off any excess flour and drop them into the hot oil and fry until golden (this should take you 3-4 minutes. If your frying pan is too small, do this in batches. Don’t crowd the pieces or it won’t brown nicely). Dish up chicken, drain, set aside. Get ready to work on the sauce.

4. In a separate pan on medium heat, melt 2 tbsp butter to fry the garlic, bird’s eye chillies and curry leaves for about 1 minute until fragrant. Don’t forget to season with a little salt to sweat the aromatics out.

5. Once fragrant, add evaporated milk and sugar. Once everything’s mixed in nicely, do a taste test and add more salt or sugar if needed (or if it’s a little too spicy).

6. Add in fried chicken pieces, mix well. Turn heat all the way down and leave to simmer for about 3-4 mins or until the sauce seems to be slightly thicker (the corn starch in the fried chicken pieces will help thicken up the sauce do don’t worry too much if it looks a little thin).

7. Serve over white rice! Or grain of choice. I’ve actually tried this with quinoa because I ran out of rice the other day and it worked surprisingly well.

Have you tried any of my recipes? Leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you 🙂 Like my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram while you’re at it!

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