Sous Vide Butter Chicken: A Modern Twist on an Indian Classic

Butter chicken, also known as murgh makhani, is a popular Indian dish that has won the hearts of food enthusiasts worldwide. This creamy, tomato-based curry features tender, succulent pieces of chicken cooked in a rich, flavorful sauce. Though the traditional method of preparing butter chicken involves marinating and cooking the meat in a tandoor oven, sous vide cooking offers a modern alternative that guarantees consistently tender, juicy chicken with minimal effort. In this article, we’ll explore the advantages of using sous vide to prepare butter chicken and provide a delicious, easy-to-follow recipe that will impress your family and friends.

Advantages of Sous Vide Butter Chicken

Using the sous vide method for cooking butter chicken has several advantages over traditional techniques:

Consistent results: Sous vide cooking involves immersing vacuum-sealed food in a temperature-controlled water bath, ensuring that the chicken is cooked evenly and to the desired level of doneness. This eliminates the risk of overcooking or undercooking the meat, resulting in perfectly tender, juicy chicken every time.

Enhanced flavor: The vacuum-sealed bag used in sous vide cooking locks in the marinade, allowing the chicken to absorb the flavors more effectively. This results in a more intensely flavored dish, with the spices and aromatics fully penetrating the meat.

Minimal hands-on time: Sous vide cooking is a largely hands-off process, freeing up your time for other tasks or allowing you to entertain guests while the chicken cooks to perfection.

Sous Vide Butter Chicken Recipe

Ingredients

For the chicken marinade:

  • 1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)

For the sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

For serving:

  • Cooked basmati rice
  • Naan bread
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, garam masala, turmeric, cumin, paprika, salt, and cayenne pepper (if using). Add the chicken pieces and mix well, ensuring that each piece is fully coated in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight.
  2. Preheat your sous vide water bath to 150°F (65°C). Transfer the marinated chicken into a vacuum-seal bag or a zip-top freezer bag, removing as much air as possible. Seal the bag and carefully submerge it in the water bath. Cook the chicken for 1.5 to 2 hours.
  3. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, ginger, garam masala, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, and cardamom, and cook for an additional 2 minutes, until fragrant.
  4. Add the crushed tomatoes to the saucepan, stirring to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer and let it cook for 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together. Stir in the heavy cream, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low and keep the sauce warm until the chicken is ready.
  5. Once the chicken has finished cooking in the sous vide water bath, carefully remove the bag and cut it open. Drain any excess liquid and transfer the cooked chicken pieces to the saucepan with the warm sauce. Gently stir to coat the chicken evenly with the sauce.
  6. Allow the chicken to simmer in the sauce for an additional 5-10 minutes, letting the flavors come together. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
  7. Serve the sous vide butter chicken over cooked basmati rice, accompanied by warm naan bread. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro for a burst of color and flavor.

Conclusion

Sous vide cooking provides a modern, foolproof approach to preparing butter chicken, ensuring perfectly tender, flavorful meat every time. This innovative technique takes the guesswork out of cooking, allowing you to create restaurant-quality Indian dishes in the comfort of your own home.

By following this simple sous vide butter chicken recipe, you’ll impress your family and friends with your culinary skills while enjoying a delicious, satisfying meal that celebrates the rich flavors of Indian cuisine.

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