Butter chicken, served with rice, salad and naan bread, made using a Kitchens of India spice paste.
#100daysofcooking, Recipes

Day 81: Cheat day with butter chicken

Butter Chicken (made using Kitchens of India curry mix)

There are a few summer rituals that you don’t mess around with.

When golfing within view of the Kokanee Glacier, you drink its namesake beer. When at the fair, you have a corn dog. And on at least one evening of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, you have a heaping plate of butter chicken for dinner.

The glory of that particular moment is a bit coloured by the ambience (the setting, the music, the sunshine, the hunger pangs) but the dish from the India Palace food vendor is as delicious as the long lineup would suggest.

India Palace is a Winnipeg-based restaurant that since the late ’90s hits the festival circuit each summer, bringing its delights to both the Edmonton and Calgary folk festivals. Butter chicken was added to the festival menu in 2007.

Fun fact from the India Palace website:

DO NOT GET DECEIVED: If you are also one of those who think that Butter Chicken’s flavour comes from Butter then you are wrong. The deceiving fact about Butter Chicken is that it is made from marinated Chicken, crushed tomatoes, cream and just a little bit of butter. The flavour of this world-known dish comes from everything that is put in it but Butter.

Prior to the folk festival, I had never eaten butter chicken much less made it. Since then, I’ve become fairly proficient at making curried dishes from scratch but when it comes to butter chicken, I cheat with one of the supermarket pre-packaged spice mixes.

There are lots to choose from and I’ve tested few, including those made by Patak’s and Shan, but the one I’ve settled on is made by Kitchens of India. For my money, it gets the flavour right and its ingredient list is almost entirely recognizable. The package instructions are fairly simple (mix the paste with water, add the chicken, and cook) but I like to jazz it up a bit with more tomatoes  and some vegetables.

Since you are at the supermarket anyway, you might as well go the distance and buy the naan bread to go with it.

It’s not quite the same as what you’ll get at Gallagher Hill. But maybe some experiences just aren’t meant to be wholly replicated in the kitchen.

Kitchen Castoff Used

A half-package of Kitchens of India butter chicken spice mix

Kitchens of India spice paste comes with one packet per box, but I find that is enough for two dinners.
Kitchens of India spice paste comes with one packet per box, but I find that is enough for two dinners.

This is how we did it

I usually to use bone-in thighs for this recipe but boneless, skinless chicken breasts are more typical of what India Palace uses. Check the box for those cooking instructions


  • 3 – 5 chicken pieces (thighs are best, drumsticks are pretty good)
  • 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped into larger-than-bite-size chunks
  • 1/2 green or red pepper, chopped into larger-than-bite-size chunks
  • 6 – 10 fresh mushrooms, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 package Kitchens of India butter chicken paste
  • 14.5 ounces canned, diced tomatoes, run through a food processor
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup water


Heat the butter and olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Brown the chicken thighs, skin side down, for about 5 – 8 minutes, then flip and brown on the other side. Remove to a plate.

You may need to add a little more oil to the pan, then add the onions, mushrooms and red pepper. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender. Scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan as you go.

Add the butter chicken paste and water and stir until the paste is thoroughly mixed in. Return the chicken to the pan, add the tomatoes and stir everything together. You may want to add a little more water, depending on how you like the sauce.

At this point, you can either simmer it on the stovetop for about 30 – 35 minutes, or you can cover and pop in the oven at 325 degrees until the chicken is cooked. The oven method will tend to dry up the sauce a bit, so you may want to add more water as you go.

Serve with rice and warmed naan bread.

Curious about my “Kitchen Castoffs” concept? Here’s the explainer describing my 100-day project.

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